Why is the keto diet good for you?
1. Supports weight loss
The ketogenic diet may help promote weight lossTrusted Source in several ways, including boosting metabolism and reducing appetite.
Ketogenic diets consist of foods that fill a person up and may reduce hunger-stimulating hormonesTrusted Source. For these reasons, following a keto diet may reduce appetite and promote weight loss.
In a 2013 meta-analysisTrusted Source of 13 different randomized controlled trials, researchers found that people following ketogenic diets lost 2 pounds (lbs) more than those following low fat diets over 1 year.
Similarly, another review of 11 studiesTrusted Source demonstrated that people following a ketogenic diet lost 5 lbs more than those following low-fat diets after 6 months.
2. Improves acne
Acne has several different causes and may have links to diet and blood sugar in some people.
Eating a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates may alter the balance of gut bacteria and cause blood sugar to rise and fall significantly, both of which can adversely affect skin health.
According to a 2012 studyTrusted Source, by decreasing carb intake, a ketogenic diet could reduce acne symptoms in some people.
3. May reduce risk of certain cancers
Researchers have examined the effects of the ketogenic diet in helping prevent or even treat certain cancers.
One studyTrusted Source found that the ketogenic diet may be a safe and suitable complementary treatment to use alongside chemotherapy and radiation therapy in people with certain cancers. This is because it would cause more oxidative stress in cancer cells than in normal cells, causing them to die.
A more recent studyTrusted Source from 2018 suggests that because the ketogenic diet reduces blood sugar, it could also lower the risk of insulin complications. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar that may have links to some cancers.
Although some researchTrusted Source indicates that the ketogenic diet may have some benefit in cancer treatment, studies in this area are limited. Researchers need to carry out more studies to fully understand the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet in cancer prevention and treatment.
For more science-backed resources on nutrition, visit our dedicated hub.
4. May improve heart health
When a person follows the ketogenic diet, it is important that they choose healthful foods. Some evidence shows that eating healthful fats, such as avocados instead of less healthful fats, such as pork rinds, can help improve heart health by reducing cholesterol.
A 2017 reviewTrusted Source of studies of animals and humans on a keto diet showed that some people experienced a significant drop in levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, and an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.
High levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. A keto diet’s reducing effect on cholesterol may, therefore, reduce a person’s risk of heart complications.
However, the review concluded that the positive effects of the diet on heart health depend on diet quality. Therefore, it’s important to eat healthful, nutritionally balanced food while following the keto diet.
5. May protect brain function
Some studies, such as this 2019 reviewTrusted Source, suggest the ketones that generate during the keto diet provide neuroprotective benefits, which means they can strengthen and protect the brain and nerve cells.
For this reason, a keto diet may help a person prevent or manage conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
However, more research is necessary into a keto diet’s effects on the brain.
Find out more about Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Potentially reduces seizures
The ratio of fat, protein, and carbs in a keto diet alters the way the body uses energy, resulting in ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process during which the body uses ketone bodies for fuel.
The Epilepsy Foundation suggest that ketosis can reduce seizures in people with epilepsy — especially those who have not responded to other treatment methods. More research is necessary on how effective this is, though it seems to have the most effect on children who have focal seizures.
A 2019 reviewTrusted Source supports the hypothesis that a keto diet can support people with epilepsy. The ketogenic diet may reduce epilepsy symptoms by several different mechanisms.
7. Improves PCOS symptoms
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorderTrusted Source that can lead to excess male hormones, ovulatory dysfunction, and polycystic ovaries. A high-carbohydrate diet can cause adverse effects in people with PCOS, such as skin problems and weight gain.
There are not many clinical studies on the ketogenic diet and PCOS. One pilot study from 2005Trusted Source examined five women over 24 weeks. The researchers found that a ketogenic diet improved several markers of PCOS, including:
- weight loss
- hormone balance
- ratios of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
- levels of fasting insulin
A different review of studies from 2019Trusted Source found that a keto diet had beneficial effects for people with hormonal disorders, including PCOS and type 2 diabetes. However, they did also caution that the studies were too diverse to recommend a keto diet as a general treatment for PCOS.