While it may take time for the body to enter a state of stable ketosis, once it does you are likely to experience a number of benefits. Generally speaking, once the body becomes keto-adapted, you will notice improved energy levels and mental focus, improved blood sugar control, suppressed hunger and reduced cravings, as well as weight loss (primarily from fat). It has also been shown to benefit serious and chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Improved Energy and Mental Focus
In a state of ketosis, the body is able to burn fats for energy – this process is much more efficient than the process of metabolizing carbohydrates. A more efficient source of energy enables the body to run at its optimal level which improves energy levels as well as mental focus. Though there may be a brief adjustment period during which you experience fatigue and mental fog, once the body becomes keto-adapted those symptoms disappear and everything begins to work better.
When it comes to improved energy, it all comes down to keto-adaptation. When ketones become the primary source of energy for the body, the muscles adapt to converting acetoacetate into beta-hydroxybutyric acid, a highly efficient source of fuel for the brain. Anything that cannot be utilized is excreted from the body as waste.
Another metabolic process that contributes to improved energy and mental focus on the ketogenic diet is called glucogenesis. Glucogenesis is the process through which the body synthesizes or produces glucose from non-carbohydrates sources. This process primarily takes place in the liver where glucose is produced from glycerol and protein as well as other substances like lactate and pyruvate. Glucogenesis is an essential piece of the ketogenic puzzle because it ensures that organs like the brain which still require a small amount of glucose get what they need in the absence of dietary carbohydrates.
Improved Blood Sugar Control
A carb-centered diet is typically rife with blood sugar spikes and crashes. When you consume high-carb foods, the body breaks the food down very quickly which causes a sudden increase in blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar triggers the production of insulin in the pancreas to enable cells to absorb and utilize glucose from the blood stream. As blood sugar drops, insulin production decreases and everything normalizes.
The problem with the typical Western diet is that it is so focused around high-carb foods, that blood sugar often remains elevated for longer than is normal – this can cause the body to develop a diminished response to insulin or to produce less of it. This is known as insulin resistance and it is a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
By largely removing carbohydrates from the equation, ketosis prevents the dangerous cycle of blood sugar spikes and crashes. Take for example the results of a 24-week study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism in 2008. In this study, 84 volunteers with both type 2 diabetes and obesity were randomly split into two groups based on diet – a low-carb ketogenic diet (LCKD) and a low-glycemic, calorie-reduced diet. At the end of the study it was revealed that both groups experienced a reduction in fasting glucose and insulin levels, but the low-carb ketogenic group showed greater improvements. In fact, in 95% of participants in the LCKD group were able to reduce or eliminate diabetes medications.