While our ancestors dealt with deadly diseases and infections, such as the black death, poliomyelitis, and smallpox, we are now dealing with a new epidemic – A deadlier epidemic that causes the death of 2.8 million people every year. Obesity and its associated complications, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are taking more lives than cancer.
This promoted the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets among the general population. However, there is still a lot to decipher when it comes to the difference between general low-carb diets and the ketogenic diet.
In this article, we will briefly cover low-carb diets to understand the difference between them. After that, we will detail the benefits of adopting a low-carb, high-fat diet.
The difference between the low-carb diet and the ketogenic diet
The low-carb diet
The low-carb diet is the umbrella term that includes all low-carb, including the ketogenic diet, caloric deficit diet, and the paleo diet.
The major feature of this diet is that it does not have any particular guidelines on the amounts of sugar you can consume per day. It is intended to be a way of living, rather than a short-term fix to lose some extra pounds.
Additionally, some low-carb diets do not encourage people to increase their fat intake, which is not the case for ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet
Unlike the low-carb diets, the ketogenic diet is specifically designed to get you into a metabolic state known as ketosis. This is when the body starts using ketone bodies instead of glucose as a primary energy source.
The amount of carbs allowed is usually restricted to 5-10% of your daily caloric intake.
Some individuals took these guidelines to another level and cut their carb intake altogether. This way, your body has no choice but to use the fatty acids stored in your adipose tissues.
The health benefits of low-carb, high-fat diets
1. Promote weight loss
Limiting your sugar intake forces the body to use stored fatty acids for energy. This is due to a metabolic state called ketosis.
Relative to other eating patterns, the ketogenic diet is superior at inducing weight loss. One study found that following the keto diet causes 2.2 times more weight loss relative to a caloric restrictive diet.
What makes this diet popular is that you don’t have to starve yourself. You can eat whatever you want as long as it’s keto-friendly food. Fortunately, the high intake of protein and low carbohydrate consumption will promote feelings of satiety. This was confirmed in a recent study.
In order to experience all the benefits of the keto diet, you need to place your metabolism in the ketosis state. For that to happen, modifying your macro ratios becomes indispensable.
2. Help with diabetes
Researchers found that the ketogenic diet aids diabetics to control their blood glucose levels. What’s more impressive, however, is that keto can prevent the disease in people with prediabetes.
To understand this mechanism, we need to briefly cover the risk factors of diabetes:
The nature part
This category includes any factors that you cannot control. Examples include a family history of diabetes and genetic predisposition.
A 2012 study found that family history boosts the risk of diabetes by 2.5-fold.
The nurture part
The nurture part is the primary area where you can act. It includes the following risk factors:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Chronic blood hypertension
- Dyslipidemia (e.g., high LDL, low HDL)
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Obesity is by far the most important risk factor, especially when adipose tissues are located around the abdominal region.
Scientists believe carbohydrate-rich meals desensitize the cells to the action of insulin. This is due to the endless cycles of glucose and insulin spikes.
From this list of risk factors, the ketogenic is able to modify obesity, chronic blood hypertension, high LDL, and low HDL. Consequently, the risk of diabetes plummets.
As for diabetic patients, the keto diet also helps with controlling glucose levels in the blood.
In one study, scientists conducted a 24-week clinical trial with three groups of participants. The first group followed the keto diet (less than 20 g of carbs per day), the second group adopted a low-carb diet (more than 20 g of carbs per day), and the third group was on a low-glycemic, reduced-calorie diet (less than 500 calories per day).
After analyzing the results of the study, researchers found that individuals on the keto diet had significantly lower blood sugar levels compared to the other two groups. They also noted that these patients needed fewer pharmacological drugs to control their blood glucose.
3. Optimize heart health
Similar to type 2 diabetes, the ketogenic diet addresses the risk factors of heart disease in order to improve the patient’s status or prevent the ailment altogether.
The primary risk factors targeted by the keto diet include:
- Chronic blood hypertension
- High LDL
- Low HDL
Additionally, following the ketogenic diet will unintentionally render you more conscious about the health choices you make, which eventually results in a more active lifestyle, better dietary choices, and excluding unhealthy foods from your meals.
Overall, this leads to a drastic decrease in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (e.g., coronary artery disease).
Aside from disease processes, the ketogenic diet showed impressive results in optimizing athletic performance.
In a 2019 study, researchers found that both aerobic and resistance training athletes may significantly benefit from being on the keto diet, especially during the first 3 to 12-week period.
These findings confirm that the keto diet is not exclusive to one group of people, as it’s a good choice for healthy and sick individuals.
While low-carb diets and the ketogenic diet are different, they share several similarities. Adopting these diets will undoubtedly optimize your organ systems and prevent an array of health issues.
Hopefully, this article managed to highlight the primary differences between low-carb diets and the ketogenic diet, as well as the benefits of this way of eating.