Low carb diets used to be quite the craze in the 1990s, but concerns were raised regarding whether avoiding carbs and increasing fat intake could result in health problems such as cardiovascular disease.
A lot of research has been done since then, and a number of benefits have been confirmed.
1. Take Control of Your ‘Bad’ Cholesterol While Raising Your Levels of ‘Good’ Cholesterol
If you have ever worried about the health of your arteries, heart or overall cardiovascular system, you’ve likely heard the terms “LDL” and “HDL.”
These two terms define the two types of cholesterol present in the human body, with HDL being considered the “good” kind of cholesterol and LDL being the “bad” cholesterol.
Despite past fears that a low-carb diet could cause damage to your heart, more recent studies have shown that a long-term low-carb diet can, in fact, raise your HDL (1), or “good” cholesterol levels.
Simultaneously, these same results show that a high-fat, low-carb diet will likely increase the size of your LDL particles (2); smaller sized LDL particles correlate to higher heart disease risk.
2. Lower Triglycerides by Reducing Your Carbohydrate Intake
Triglycerides are fat cells that your body uses to store energy. While they are essential, having a level of triglycerides in your blood can lead to an increased risk of heart disease (3).
It is generally assumed that a low-fat diet as prescribed by the American dietary guidelines would help with reducing triglycerides levels. But when you lessen the fat in your diet, the energy you need has to come from somewhere else.
The easiest source is then carbohydrates, which are known to increase the number of these circulating triglycerides (4).
In fact, carbs might even be the most common source of high triglyceride levels in adults.
By controlling our intake of carbohydrates, we also reduce our triglyceride levels.
3. Manage Your Blood Sugar by Going Low-Carb
The importance of maintaining a safe level of blood sugar cannot be over-stated. Low blood sugar, a condition called hypoglycemia, can cause numerous health issues including blurred vision, shakiness and extreme hunger (5).
Too much sugar in the blood, called hyperglycemia, can be the culprit behind headaches, dizziness and frequent urination. If this goes on too long, hyperglycemia can cause damage to your vision, kidneys and nervous system (6).
The three primary nutrients found in food are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. For those who have diabetes, carbohydrates can cause a big problem. They affect your blood sugar more than fats and proteins do.
Counting the carbs in your diet can significantly help in reducing symptoms of diabetes, as fewer carbs equal less glucose being broken down into your blood (7).
In fact, carb reduction can even help in reversing type-2 diabetes (8).
4. Ditch the Bloat When You Ditch Carbohydrates
Bloating is caused by an abundance of liquids, gas or solids in your digestive system. This can cause an uncomfortable feeling and make your stomach look larger.
Water retention, a form of bloating, can be caused by the consumption of refined carbs.
How does this happen? As we discussed previously, increased amount of carbs leads to a higher amount of insulin in the body. When this happens, your kidneys retain more sodium (9). This leads to an increase in fluid volume inside of your body and the feeling of being bloated.
5. Control Your Appetite When You Reduce Your Carb Intake
A diet low in carbohydrates can reduce feelings of hunger (10) and therefore help you to lose weight. It is commonly believed that increasing protein in place of carbs is a cause of this (11).
Lessened food cravings can also reduce bloating caused by over-eating.
If you’ve struggled with weight loss in the past due to over eating, a low-carb diet may be the exact thing you need to reach your weight loss goals! (12).
6. Boost Your Mood with a Low-Carb Diet
Those who have diabetes might already have personal experience with how carbs affect our mood due to the glucose that they bring into our bloodstream. Blood sugar crashes that can cause poor moods can be avoided by reducing your carbohydrate intake (13).
In fact low carb ketogenic diets have been found to regulate mood (14).
7. Ketogenic Diet Manage Symptoms of Epilepsy
The Epilepsy Foundation recommends a ketogenic diet for those who suffer from epilepsy. This diet is also referred to as the “long-chain triglyceride diet,” and recommends 4 grams of fat to every 1 gram of carbohydrates in one’s diet (15).
When the presence of fat is much higher than carbs, your body will produce more ketones. Ketones are created when the body burns fat instead of carbs for energy (16).
When this diet is followed strictly, some individuals can even experience a complete disappearance of their epilepsy symptoms (17).
8. Fight Alzheimer’s with a Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet is known to help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and provide symptom relief by helping the transmission of glucose across the blood-brain barrier (18).
A condition known as Glucose transporter type I deficiency syndrome or GLUT-1DS is known as a cause to Alzhemer’s. A ketogenic diet is seen as the most effective, if not only, treatment for GLUT-1DS (19).
If not treated, GLUT-1DS can cause irreparable damage to the brain.
In patients treated with a ketogenic diet, caregivers have noted increases in brain function, including speech, appetite and vision.
The ketones caused by this dietary treatment are neuroprotective. This means that they help to protect your brain from degeneration (20).
9. And Parkinson’s Disease, Too!
One of the main effects of Parkinson’s Disease is the accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein. The Michael J. Fox Foundation believes that the additional ketones produced by the ketogenic diet help to fight the buildup of this protein (21).
One way that a ketogenic diet is known to help those suffering from Parkinson’s is to mend neurons that have been damaged by the disease (22).
Though extensive studies have yet to be conducted regarding the relationship between ketogenic diets and Parkinson’s, smaller studies have already shown a positive improvement in patients who have followed this strict diet (23).
An increase in motor functions is the primary result scientists are looking for, and they hope to be able to create larger, more comprehensive studies based off of the smaller studies done already.
The infographic in the link by AuthorityDiet.com lists 12 health benefits of low-carb ketogenic diets.
A ketogenic diet can be the key to triumphing over numerous neurological conditions and defects that afflict the human brain.
While these high-fat, low-carb diets have been seen as a fad trend to reduce unwanted belly bloat and overall body weight, there are virtues to this diet that are still being studied with promising results.
Whether your goal is overall body wellness, or to improve the condition of your mind, it seems worthwhile to attempt a low-carb diet to help remedy a host of problems.
Leo Tat is an evidence-based nutrition blogger at AuthorityDiet.com where you can find nutritional articles backed by science journal citations. By having the evidence at hand behind the claims, you can come to an informed decision on what to eat and when to eat for optimal health. Follow Leo on Facebook and Twitter for article updates.