The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet is a proven way to lose weight (1Trusted Source).
It also has powerful benefits against type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and may even help treat cancer (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Additionally, it has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920s (2Trusted Source).
Here are 10 graphs that show the many powerful benefits of a ketogenic diet.
Over 20 studies have shown that a low-carb or ketogenic diet can help you lose weight. The weight loss is usually much greater than with a high-carb diet (5Trusted Source).
In the graph above, the ketogenic group in the study lost more weight, despite the fact that their protein and calorie intake were equal to the non-ketogenic group (6Trusted Source).
The ketogenic group was also less hungry and found it easier to stick to the diet.
This suggests that a low-carb or ketogenic diet provides a distinct “metabolic advantage” over a high-carb diet, although this is still being debated (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Bottom Line: The ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss. It is superior to a high-carb diet, and may even provide a metabolic advantage.
Abdominal obesity, or excess belly fat, is a serious risk factor for all sorts of metabolic diseases (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
This kind of stored fat can increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and premature death (12Trusted Source).
Interestingly, a ketogenic diet is a very effective way to lose belly fat.
As shown in the graph above, a ketogenic diet reduced total weight, body fat and abdominal trunk fat much more than a low-fat diet did (11Trusted Source).
These findings were more apparent in men than women, probably because men tend to store more fat in this area.
Bottom Line: A ketogenic diet can help you lose belly fat, which is closely linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and reduced life expectancy.
A ketogenic diet improves your metabolic flexibility and helps you burn stored body fat for energy, instead of glucose (9Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
The graph shows that runners who are adapted to a ketogenic diet can burn 2.3 times more fat per minute during a workout, compared to runners on a low-fat diet.
Over the long-term, an increased ability to burn fat can provide various health benefits and protect against obesity (15Trusted Source).
Bottom Line: A ketogenic diet can drastically boost your ability to burn fat during exercise.
Over the years, high-carb diets and poor insulin function can lead to high blood sugar levels (16Trusted Source).
High blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and premature aging, to name a few (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Interestingly, a ketogenic diet can be highly beneficial for people with diabetes and high blood sugar levels.
As shown in the graph, removing carbs from your diet can drastically lower blood sugars in those who have high blood sugars to begin with (16Trusted Source).
Bottom Line: The ketogenic diet is extremely effective at lowering blood sugar levels, a key marker of long-term health.
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As with blood sugar, your level of insulin resistance is directly linked to your health and risk of disease (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
This study found that a ketogenic diet significantly lowered insulin levels in diabetics, which indicates reduced insulin resistance (21Trusted Source).
The ketogenic group also lost 12.8 lbs (5.8 kg), while the high-carb group lost only 4.2 lbs (1.9 kg). Triglyceride levels decreased by 20% in the ketogenic group, versus only 4% in the high-carb group.
Bottom Line: A ketogenic diet will drastically reduce insulin resistance, one of the most important markers of metabolic health.
Blood triglycerides are an important marker of heart health, and describe the amount of fat in your blood. High levels are linked to an increased risk of heart disease (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
The increased risk can be as high as 30% in men, and 75% in women (26Trusted Source).
This study found that a ketogenic diet lowered fasting triglyceride levels by 44%, while no change was found with the low-fat, high-carb diet (24Trusted Source).
Additionally, the amount of fat in the blood after meals was significantly reduced, as shown in the graph above.
The ketogenic diet also improved other markers of metabolic syndrome. For example, it caused more weight loss, decreased the triglyceride:HDL ratio and reduced blood sugar levels (24Trusted Source).
Bottom Line: Despite a very high fat content, the ketogenic diet can cause massive reductions in blood triglyceride levels.
HDL cholesterol plays a key role in cholesterol metabolism by helping your body either recycle or get rid of it (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
Higher HDL levels are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
One of the best ways to raise HDL is to increase dietary fat intake on a low-carb or ketogenic diet (16Trusted Source).
As you can see in the graph above, a ketogenic diet can cause a major increase in HDL levels (16Trusted Source).
Bottom Line: HDL (the “good”) cholesterol plays a key role in cholesterol metabolism, and is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. A ketogenic diet can cause a big increase in HDL levels.
When dieting, constant hunger often leads to binge eating or quitting the diet completely.
One of the main reasons low-carb and ketogenic diets are so beneficial for weight loss, is the fact that they reduce hunger.
The study above compared a ketogenic diet to a low-fat diet. The ketogenic diet group reported much less hunger, despite the fact that they lost 46% more weight (6Trusted Source).
Bottom Line: Hunger levels play a key role in dieting success. A ketogenic diet has been shown to reduce hunger compared to a low-fat diet.
Since the 1920s, researchers and physicians have tested and used the ketogenic diet for the treatment of epilepsy (2Trusted Source).
As shown in this graph above, one study found that 75.8% of epileptic children on a ketogenic diet had fewer seizures after only one month of treatment (32).
Moreover, after 6 months, half of the patients had at least a 90% decrease in seizure frequency, while 50% of these patients reported a complete remission.
At the start of the study, a large majority of subjects were malnourished and below a healthy weight. By the end of the study, all subjects had reached a healthy weight and improved their nutritional status (32).
One year after the diet, 5 of the 29 participants remained seizure-free, and several of the participants reduced or completely stopped their anti-seizure medication.
Bottom Line: A ketogenic diet can help reduce the frequency of seizures in epileptic children. In some cases, the diet can eliminate seizures altogether.
Medical interventions for brain cancer can fail to target tumor cell growth and often negatively affect the health and vitality of normal brain cells (33Trusted Source).
This study compared a normal diet (shown as SD-UR) to a higher-calorie (KD-UR) and calorie-restricted ketogenic meal plan (KD-R) in mice with brain cancer.
The bars in the graph represent tumor size. As you can see, the two tumors were reduced by 65% and 35% in the calorie-restricted ketogenic group (KD-R) (33Trusted Source).
Interestingly, no change occurred in the higher-calorie ketogenic group.
Other studies in humans and animals show incredible benefits against cancer, especially when it is caught early (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
Although research is still in its early stages, it is likely that a ketogenic diet will eventually be used alongside more conventional cancer treatments.
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