Hi there! Welcome to part 2 of the Keto Diet Masterclass. During part 1, we discussed what the ketogenic diet is and why it’s quickly becoming America’s top diet plan for weight loss. Whether you’re already convinced the ketogenic diet is the right fit for you, or if you’re still on the fence, it’s important to have a clear understanding of both the benefits and side effects of keto before moving forward. So that is exactly what we’re going to cover today.
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10 BENEFITS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
Promising appetite suppression, diabetes reversal, and disease prevention— the ketogenic diet almost sounds too good to be true. However, with keto trending, more studies are cropping in support of this ultra-low-carb diet.
1. ENHANCES FOCUS, CLARITY, AND CONCENTRATION
No one will argue the role that DHA and omega-3 fatty acids play in improving focus and concentration— it’s well documented.1 However, when it comes to ketones and brain health, the consensus isn’t as clear.
How do Ketones Benefit the Brain?
Remember our discussion about ketones during part 1 of the Keto Diet Masterclass?
Allow me to refresh your memory.
Glucose is the brain’s primary source of fuel. During ketosis, the brain is essentially starved of glucose. In the absence of glucose, the liver generates ketones from fat stores. It’s these ketones that serve as fuel for the brain and body. To understand how the ketogenic diet benefits the brain, we need to examine how ketones specifically affect brain function. The following are 3 ways in which ketone bodies benefit the brain.2
- Ketones are a neuroprotective antioxidant. Ketones have been found to act as an antioxidant in various animal models, preventing harmful reactive oxygen species from damaging brain cells.3
- Ketones are a more efficient energy source than sugar. Ketone bodies (beta-hydroxybutyrate in particular) are more efficient at generating fuel than glucose. Burning ketones may be an essential part of maintaining the health of aging brain cells because brain cells tend to lose their ability to efficiently fuel from glucose over time.4
- Ketones increase mitochondrial efficiency and productivity. The ketogenic diet causes a coordinated upregulation of mitochondrial and metabolic genes. Essentially, ketones enhance the capacity of brain cells, protecting them from strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.5, 6, 7
2. IMPROVES MOOD AND SOCIAL WELLBEING
There’s no denying it— blood sugar levels have a dramatic effect on mood.8 Aside from the science, you’ve probably experienced the effects of blood sugar fluctuations firsthand. In fact, plummeting blood sugar levels is commonly experienced as “hanger.”9
The ketogenic diet aims to balance blood sugar by promoting low-glycemic foods, reducing carbohydrate intake, and eliminating added sugars.
How do Ketones Improve Mood?
What’s more, research shows that balanced blood sugar has been linked to diminished depression and improved social wellbeing.10 Identifying how mood is affected by the ketogenic diet requires an understanding of the neurotransmitters involved.
Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter within the mammalian nervous system. Now glutamate has several fates. It can become GABA (inhibitory) or aspartate (excitatory). Both GABA and aspartate are necessary neurotransmitters, but too much excitement in the brain means neurotoxicity. And neurotoxicity can manifest in various forms such as depression, bipolar disorder, migraines, ALS, and dementia.11
The ketogenic diets seem to favor glutamate becoming GABA rather than aspartate. The reasons are unclear, but it’s suggested that it’s due in part to how the ketones are metabolized.12
3. PROMOTES GUT HEALTH
There’s a lot of talk about gut health and “healthy gut bacteria,” but what does it all mean exactly?
The Importance of Gut Health
Internationally recognized Gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz states, “All health starts in the gut. It’s not just about digestion. In recent years, the immune system, metabolism, hormonal balance, mood, brain function, and even genetic expression have all been connected to the health of our gut.13 When people take proper care of their guts, their health tends to follow.14 Disease gets reversed—or, better yet, prevented—and the body functions the way nature intended. You feel energized and strong, and you’re basically living your best life.”
Of course, Dr. Bulsiewicz isn’t the only one drawing the connection between gut health and diseases. Beyond Hippocrates, there’s a whole slew of doctors backing the notion that hundreds of chronic conditions are directly linked to the health of our gut.15
Keto and Leaky Gut Syndrome
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The gut is responsible for digestion as well as the absorption and expulsion of food. 90% of digestion and nutrient absorption occurs in the small intestines. A healthy small intestine maintains a semi-permeable membrane, inhibiting harmful materials such as gluten, proteins, bad bacteria, and toxins from leaking into the bloodstream. In individuals with leaky gut syndrome, the small intestines develop larger holes or passageways for these harmful substances to enter the bloodstream 16.
What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
On a positive note, these holes or passageways in the intestines don’t develop on their own. There are two main causes of leaky gut syndrome— an imbalanced gut microbiome and harmful compounds such as gluten, sugar, and alcohol.17
Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Conditions
Leaky gut poses a major problem within the body, specifically for the immune system. The reason being, the majority of the immune system lives within the gut.18 And a compromised immune system can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions such as lupus or multiple sclerosis.
Although some doctors write off leaky gut as an illegitimate condition, others are convinced of its legitimacy and connection to autoimmune conditions.19 Various well-respected medical journals such as the Frontiers in Immunology and the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology have published articles suggesting that leaky gut is directly linked to autoimmune diseases.
Can Keto Heal the Gut?
Science is certain the composition of the gut microbiome is influenced by nutritional and environmental factors.20 Unfortunately, the uncertainty lies in determining which foods promote optimal nutrition. Various studies have observed the potential of a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation and reshape gut microbiota. However, due to limited research, the relationship between keto and gut health remains a hot topic of debate.21
By design, a clean ketogenic diet eliminates many dietary compounds that contribute to leaky gut syndrome.22 Therefore, keto has got something right in the way of gut health.
4. RELIEVES CHRONIC PAIN
Research is mounting to suggest that a ketogenic diet can effectively reduce or even eliminate chronic pain.23 Dr. David Seaman states, “Eating a pro-inflammatory diet over a long period of time increases one’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and pain syndromes. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet can help reverse some of these conditions and reduce pain and inflammation.”
Dr. Seaman is certainly not alone in his suggestions. In fact, many doctors agree that eating an anti-inflammatory diet helps reduce or even eliminate chronic pain.
When properly formulated, the ketogenic diet is an anti-inflammatory diet.24 Keto eliminates well-known inflammatory foods such as sugar, trans fats, vegetable and seed oils, processed meats, and refined carbohydrates.25
5. STABILIZES BLOOD SUGAR
One of the most recognized benefits of the ketogenic diet is its ability to stabilize blood sugar and fight against type 2 diabetes.26
How Does Keto Fight Against Type 2 Diabetes?
After consuming carbohydrates, the body begins breaking them down into glucose for fuel. This process causes a rise in blood sugar. In fact, eating ANYTHING will cause blood sugar to rise— so carbohydrates aren’t the problem per se. The problem occurs when you eat too many carbs.
After consuming a heavy load of carbs, the body responds to the rising blood sugar by filling its cells with glucose. Once the cells are filled, excess glucose lingers in the bloodstream. Over time, excess glucose can cause insulin levels to rise— contributing to weight gain, clogged arteries, and inflammation.27
Worse yet, consistently high insulin levels cause cells to stop responding to insulin altogether. This is known as insulin resistance. And insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.28
Because the ketogenic diet calls for an ultra-low carbohydrate intake (generally 30 grams or less per day), many individuals report improved insulin and even disease reversal.29
6. COMBATS CANCER
First things first— not all cancer is created equal. Considering the human body is composed of trillions of cells, it’s no surprise that there are more than 100 distinct types of cancer.30,31 Cancer is complex— and there’s still a whole lot to learn. Regardless of its complexity, all forms of cancer share some basic characteristics. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.”
What do Cancer Cells Eat?
Although different forms of cancer vary in behavior and response to treatment, they all share one commonality— cancerous cells need to be fed if they’re going to proliferate. Healthy cells have the ability to feast on glucose (sugar and carbs) OR ketones (fat stores). Cancerous cells don’t have this luxury.32 Cancerous cells are dependent on glycolysis— meaning they’re glucose-dependent.33 Cancer cells have not yet evolved to utilize ketones for fuel.34
Dr. Jockers breaks down this process simply by stating, “Cancer cells need glucose to thrive. Carbs turn into glucose, which then feed all cells, including cancer cells. Instead of the cells using glucose for energy, they absorb ketones. By cutting the carbohydrates out of your diet the cancer cells starve.”
7. INCREASES ENERGY
In my early 20s, I spent 6 months living in Alicante, Spain. One of the things I appreciated most (aside from the rich culture and dynamic geography) was the daily siesta. Following lunch, businesses, schools, and residences would collectively close shop for a snooze every single day. I’m not sure about the origin of the siesta, but I could assume it has something to do with blood sugar.
Afternoon fatigue is typically related to post-lunch hypoglycemia, meaning low blood sugar.35 As we discussed in part 1 of the Keto Diet Masterclass, carbohydrates are quick-burning fuel. This means your body utilizes glucose quickly and becomes fatigued when the glucose stores run out. By switching your fueling system from carbohydrates to healthy fats, you’ll virtually eliminate dramatic drops in blood sugar. And energy levels improve when blood sugar is regulated.36
8. LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE
According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure can lead to several life-threatening conditions such as stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure.37 Considering this, it’s understandable that many doctors turn to meds to lower blood pressure as quickly as possible.
Alternatively, if you’d rather not jump to meds, there are ways of lowering your blood pressure naturally. High blood pressure has many manageable risk factors, such as stress, alcohol and tobacco use, and obesity.38
Obesity is a major risk factor for high blood pressure because the more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Essentially, less weight means less pressure on your artery walls.39
9. PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS
To understand how a high-fat diet promotes weight loss, we need to understand what causes weight gain in the first place.
Basically, our body can make use of two types of fuel. The first type is glucose. Glucose is primarily derived from sugar or carbohydrates. And we can compare glucose to regular gasoline— less expensive, quick-burning, and a little dirty.
The second type of fuel is known as ketones. Ketones are derived from fat (either stored or dietary fat). And we can compare ketones to premium gasoline— more expensive, clean-burning, slow, and sustainable fuel.
By cutting back on either fueling system, you WILL lose weight.
For instance, Weight Watchers generally promises results by reducing fat intake. Physique competitors and models often take this approach as well.
Alternatively, the ketogenic diet focuses on cutting carbs to lose weight. In fact, low-carb diets such as Atkins, Keto, and Carnivore have been popularized in recent years due to their overwhelming effectiveness at slimming the waistline.42
10. PROVIDES SYMPTOMATIC RELIEF FROM EPILEPSY
Studies involving ketogenic therapy as s successful means of treating epilepsy date back to the 1920s.43 A growing number of published studies have even reported its success amongst epileptic infants (2 years and younger). In fact, the European Journal of Paediatric Neurology published guidelines for the use of such dietary therapy.44
Beyond that, Scientific American takes it a step further suggesting, “Keto may be therapeutically used in many neurological disorders including headache, neurodegenerative diseases, sleep disorders, bipolar disorder, and brain cancer— and here’s the kicker— with no apparent side effects.”45
Wait, whaaat?! No apparent side effects?
Welllllll, that may be a bit of a stretch. The ketogenic diet does have its share of potential side effects. But not to worry. The majority of side effects are due to a short-lived adaptation period. This adaptation period is when you’re likely to experience side effects known as the keto flu.
What is the keto flu?
The keto flu is essentially a reactionary period of withdrawal. It occurs when the body is shifting from a sugar-burning machine to a fat-burning machine. Some claim that keto flu symptoms feel similar to withdrawing from an addictive substance. This makes sense considering sugar IS an addictive substance. Others report typical flu-like symptoms such as the ones listed below.46
12 Common Keto Flu Symptoms:
- Sugar cravings
- Brain fog
- Stomach pains
- Poor focus and concentration
- Muscle soreness
- Sleep disruption
How Long Does the Keto Flu Last?
The length and severity of the keto flu really depend on the individual— some skate by side-effect-free while others report serious side effects for the first month or more. Generally speaking, you can expect to feel pretty lousy on your first week of keto.
What Causes the keto flu?
Even though our body is fully equipped to burn fat for fuel, it could use some help restoring this dormant metabolic pathway. To aid our body through this transitional period, we need to understand what’s causing the keto flu symptoms in the first place.
According to Dr. Jockers, “Although there are a variety of symptoms that can arise during keto adaptation, they mostly manifest from the same three underlying causes. While these three causes are seemingly different, they are actually all related. When becoming keto-adapted initially, your body has been running on sugar for years. When you suddenly switch to fats, your body has to essentially build the cellular machinery necessary to generate and utilize ketone bodies as a fuel source.”47
3 Common Causes of Keto Side Effects
- HPA Axis dysfunction
- Electrolyte imbalance
Let’s break down each cause one-by-one.
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is the first underlying cause of side effects during keto-adaptation. This is because the body is still learning how to burn fat for energy. Keto flu is a classic manifestation of hypoglycemia.48
3 Tips to Combat Hypoglycemia
- Eat every 3-4 hours. When beginning the ketogenic diet, eating frequently will help to balance blood sugar and keep you satiated. However, I wouldn’t recommend eating so frequently once you’re beyond the keto flu stage.
- Consume mineral-rich food. During the keto-adaptation phase, it’s common for your body to undergo mineral deficiency. Adding mineral-rich foods such as celery, cucumbers, seaweed, and spirulina helps to restore mineral levels and reduce the severity of keto flu-related side effects.
- Hydrate with mineral-rich beverages. If you’re not interested in eating the minerals try drinking them instead. Drinking organic bone broth or taking a high-quality electrolyte supplement will help ease you through the keto flu.
2. HPA Axis Dysfunction
The second common cause of keto side effects is HPA axis dysfunction. HPA stands for hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenals. The HPA axis is comprised of these three glands. And it’s these glands that are primarily responsible for regulating stress response within the body.50
When we experience hypoglycemia, the brain is prompted into starvation mode (because the body is still learning how to burn fat for fuel). In response to the threat of starvation, the adrenals release cortisol. And unfortunately, the release of cortisol prompts hypoglycemia.
This is where the HPA axis dysfunction can cause heightened hypoglycemia-related issues such as intense sugar cravings, heart palpitations, and sleep disruptions.
Most times, the HPA axis will eventually correct itself. However, there are a few things you can do to nurture your adrenals and minimize the side effects.51
2 Tips to Combat HPA Axis Dysfunction
- Consider taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium offers powerful support for the HPA axis. I would highly recommend Magnesium L-threonate due to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.
- Introduce your body to adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogenic herbs not only benefit the HPA axis but also aid in immune function, weight management, and stress relief.
6 Adaptogenic Herbs to Consider
- Holy basil
- Milk thistle
- Licorice root
Most of these herbs can be found in liquid or pill form at your local natural foods store.52
3. Electrolyte Imbalance
The third common cause of keto side effects is electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes and minerals serve to regulate adequate hydration throughout the body. During keto-adaptation, an excess of minerals is excreted through the urine due to HPA axis dysregulation. This can cause issues such as frequent urination, constipation, diarrhea, and muscle cramps. Again, I have a few tips to help ease you through this period of electrolyte imbalance.53
- Hydrate like a beast. Keep in mind that switching from a sugar-burning machine to a fat-burning machine is similar to detoxing. Your body will be purging toxins. And the number one way to purge toxins effectively is to flush them out with tons of water.
- Swap table salt with Himalayan sea salt. Pink Himalayan sea salt contains 84 essential minerals required by the human body. Consuming Himalayan sea salt will effectively add sodium and other important minerals back into your body.
- Aid your body with an electrolyte supplement. I’m a BIG fan of Superieur electrolytes. Their products contain Himalayan sea salt, zero grams of sugar, and they taste delicious!
Now that we’ve made our way through the most commonly experienced keto side effects and symptoms, let’s briefly address a commonly asked question.
Are There Health Risks Associated with Keto?
Now, I’m not gonna lie— there are plenty of ways of going about keto all wrong— and that’s exactly why I’ve put this series together—because I want to be sure you’re doing keto right!54
And I’ve got you covered! During part 3 of The Keto Diet Masterclass you’ll receive the exact blueprint necessary to put yourself on a successful ketogenic diet. But before getting started you should know that the ketogenic diet is not for everyone. The following is a list of conditions or age groups that should be cautious of keto.55
The ketogenic diet may not be appropriate for
- Individuals suffering from kidney disease
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Women experiencing irregular menstrual cycles
- Individuals suffering from adrenal fatigue
- Individuals with poor thyroid function
- High-level athletes
- Children or teenagers
Though keep in mind, this list is not definitive. I’ve worked with numerous type-2 diabetes that had great success on keto. Beyond that, many women have reported that the ketogenic diet has actually improved their menstrual cycles, and I’ve personally had a positive experience while breastfeeding on keto.
The bottom line, diet is not a one-size-fits-all. As with any other dietary regimen, the ketogenic diet will not work for everyone— AND it’s always wise to consult your doctor before taking on any sort of extreme dietary change.
With that in mind, if you’re ready to cash in on ALL the hulk-like benefits coming your way, join me for part 3 of the Keto Diet Masterclass to learn how to get started with the ketogenic diet today!
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- What to eat on a CLEAN ketogenic diet
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Whether you’re well-versed or brand spankin’ new to keto life and looking for some help, you should check out Katie’s coaching program. Coach Katie lives keto all day, errryday. She keeps up to date on the latest science, so you don’t have to. But more importantly, she addresses your specific goals to help you achieve ultimate success on your keto journey. And it’s always better to have someone in your corner, guiding you along. So if you’re ready for total life transformation and ultimate keto success, schedule your FREE keto strategy sesh today!
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Katie Rodriguez nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.