The ketogenic diet has been a hot topic for a while now, but what exactly is this low-carb, high-fat diet good for? Aside from being able to eat butter, cheese, and meat, going keto also comes with plenty of positive effects. However, it's not recommended to continue on this diet in the long run. Clinical nutritionist Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, typically limits his clients to only 30 to 90 days of keto and then advises them to switch to carb cycling to maintain results. Following the keto diet as recommended in the short term can yield the following benefits, though.
1. Weight Loss
Many report weight loss as a result of going on the keto diet, and we've seen plenty of transformations as proof. According to Molly Devine, RD, LDN, keto can be highly effective for weight loss because it naturally curbs your hunger and cravings for sugary foods. You may even experience a loss of water weight in your first two weeks on keto thanks to the decrease in your carb intake. Whether you're looking to shed pounds or not, sticking to this "true-keto" formula will likely result in weight loss: 75 to 80 percent of calories from fat, 10 to 15 percent from protein, five percent from carbohydrates.
2. More Energy
When your body reaches a state of ketosis, it shifts its energy source from glucose to fat. With fewer carbs in your system, your body begins to burn fat for fuel without the crash (for now), thanks to the lack of carbs and therefore sugar in your diet. In addition to an increase in energy, Devine says you may also experience more mental clarity as a result.
3. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Going on keto can be especially beneficial to those with diabetes. Your cutting out sugar and replacing carbs with a large source of dietary fat can supply you with more energy while also regulating your insulin and glucose levels. Since a large component of keto requires eating a low-carb diet, it can help you avoid those spikes in glucose.
4. Higher Sex Drive
On top of naturally aiding your libido by boosting your energy, reducing your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars provides more hormonal stability, Devine said. Weight loss and decreased bloating may also make you more inclined to get it on as you're likely to feel more confident and comfortable in your skin. Excess insulin has shown to increase mood swings and irregular cycles in women, which can be largely avoided by sticking to keto-approved foods.
5. Better Muscle Recovery
When your body's transitioned into ketosis, fat can fuel your muscles and brain, according to Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD. Your muscles are then more likely to grow and repair better. However, keep in mind that combining all three macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) is most effective for muscle recovery with protein being the most crucial.
Other benefits that may come with going on the keto diet include better sleep, better mood, and even improved skin. While all of this may sound great, remember that it may not be the safest lifestyle.
"Overall, I consider it healthy but not sustainable for the long term, since it requires eliminating some high-antioxidant foods and other health-promoting foods like sweet potatoes and most fruits," Dr. Axe told POPSUGAR.
In addition to potentially experiencing symptoms of the dreaded keto flu — including headaches, muscle weakness, and dizziness — there are more serious side effects to consider. Dr. Axe warned that a rare but dangerous reaction called ketoacidosis can occur, causing adverse reactions like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and confusion. Ketoacidosis is most common among people with type one diabetes. Additionally, those who have gallbladder disease, impaired fat digestion, kidney disease, impaired liver function, alcoholism, porphyria, or impaired insulin production or have had gastric bypass surgery for weight loss should not attempt the keto diet.