I wanted to talk a little bit about the benefits of a ketogenic diet. Many of us are drawn to it for the weight loss aspects. I also wanted to clarify that when I talk about a keto diet, I mean any version of a low-carb, high fat diet that induces a state of ketosis (remember, there is more than one way to skin a cat). Disclaimer: No cats were harmed in the research for this blog, or for any other reason..;-). So, what else is keto good for?
Well, the original research was in the treatment of epilepsy, as a result of that research, it has been shown benefit for Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, and dementia. Migraine sufferers have reported improvement of symptoms. The average Joe without any of these disease processes, often reports more mental clarity and focus. A small caveat is that in the initial stages of keto, while the body is transitioning, many report the exact opposite of these things. Instead complaining of mental fog, headache, and fatigue. These symptoms sometimes labeled the “keto flu” often can be reversed by understanding how the body is changing. For instance you may need some electrolyte replacement due to increased urination, more hydration, or a change in your sleep pattern.
Helps to prevent heart disease. I am not putting may help in front of this one, because there is enough accessible research demonstrating that glucose is the key driver in heart disease, not fat. The most recent research demonstrates that sugars and starch drive a rise in our triglycerides.
Lowers blood glucose. Again this is well documented to be the case. By reducing carbohydrates from the diet, blood glucose levels go down. This is a really big deal in this age of the diabetes pandemic. Although, I recently watched (they are in the resources) a video explaining why we should worry more about our insulin levels, than blood sugar, in order to prevent reaching the capacity of our bodies to produce enough insulin to deal with the current traditional processed, sugar and starch overload diet. Metabolic syndrome (also called insulin resistance) affects the majority of individuals way before they are diagnosed as having actual diabetes.
May help to fight cancer. There is research that indicates that some cancer cells have difficulty or are unable to utilize ketones as an energy source, therefore, it shows promise as an adjunct therapy to cancer treatment (I am not a medical doctor and this in no way is meant to be medical advice or encourage someone not to head their doctor’s advice about cancer treatment. If you have cancer, the research is available to provide you information about what types of cancers it showed benefit for, and whether or not it shows promise in human trials or just animal studies. Information is power, do your homework, then talk to your doctor).
Improves sleep patterns. Our sleep cycles are a complex process involving multiple biochemical factors, including hormones. For example too much cortisol can cause insomnia, not enough you can’t stay awake. The research hasn’t provided an exact why, that ketogenic diets seem to improve sleep. But the speculation is that it has to do with the brain using ketones, instead of glucose as a fuel source.
Reduces Inflammation. Why is this important? Because it may help people suffering from the effects of inflammatory diseases such as acne, psoriasis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, eczema, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. This is an area where I have personally experienced improvement. I have shared in other posts how I was stricken by a rare autoimmune reaction, that has affected my nerves, and as a result muscle control. I am personally seeing improvements in these areas. Now, this is what is called anecdotal evidence (meaning, I am not part of a research study that is eliminating all other possible factors in the improvements I am seeing). I also, have changed more than my diet, so, as someone that values the science of things, I can’t say that keto is 100% responsible for my improvements. But, I will declare that I believe it is a very important contributing factor (again, these claims are not meant to be medical advice or encourage you to go against medical advice. Why do I keep repeating this, because, we live in a litigious society and I don’t wish to be sued for trying to share with others, something that I found transformational for myself, and hope it helps them too).
May help with kidney stones and gout. Again this fact comes with a caveat. In the first few months of ketosis, uric acid levels will actually go up. However, the research shows that unlike a diet high in sugars (especially fructose) these levels start to go down and stay down, as long as the individual continues to maintain a keto lifestyle.
The final one I will mention is women’s health issues. A ketogenic lifestyle has shown promise in fertility studies, Polycystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOS), and prolonged cycles.
If you are interested in learning more about other benefits, I am posting a link and a diagram taken from that link that basically goes into more detail and evidences for the benefits of the ketogenic lifestyle. I will also add it to the resources page.
The point is, that in many cases, a ketogenic lifestyle is a non-harmful intervention, that may improve your health and wellness (before, making any lifestyle change, you should talk to your healthcare provider, as there may some people, to whom a ketogenic lifestyle would prove harmful, yes many disclaimers today. But, as a retired healthcare professional, I have to be careful about what I say not being construed as medical advice. This blog is my opinion, based on my understanding of the available research and my own, friends, and family’s experiences).
The recipe I am going to post today can be used one of two ways. You can make a nice (if somewhat crumbly) granola bar, or mine and hubby’s favorite as a granola cereal. Again, going to point at the science. The only cereal type (one article I read called it breakfast candy) that showed any signs of reducing the risks of obesity was muesli (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618177/). Even with the fortifications and reductions in added sugars, cereals can be a major pitfall in the fight against obesity and diabetes. But, it is also a major comfort food for many of us, so, here is a cold cereal that I hope you will love as much as we do.
Keto Granola Bars/Cereal
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut shredded or flaked
- 1 1/2 cup nuts and/or seeds chopped
- 2 1/4 cup Keto Hot Cereal Mix
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup butter melted
- 1/3 cup keto friendly sweetener
- 2 Tbsp cocoa nibs may use cocoa powder
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup berries optional
Preheat oven to 350° F. and prepare a 13x9" baking dish by greasing or spraying (could try lining with parchment, though I didn't try this).
In mixer bowl add dry ingredients and mix well.
Add eggs and mix again.
Add berries if using.
in a microwave save dish melt butter (about 30-60 seconds on high)
Add butter to mixture and mix thoroughly, it will be the consistency of a thick cookie dough
Press dough until evenly distributed in the prepared baking dish.
Bake about 25-30 minutes or until center is cooked. It will be like a cookie bar. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before cutting into bars.
Remove bars carefully from baking dish and place on parchment baking sheet or dehydrator trays.
Dry bars in oven or dehydrator at about 150° F. for 6-8 hours (when bars are completely dried and slightly crumbly). You may want to stop at this stage and use them as a granola bar, or crumble them up and use as granola cereal.
I store these in the refrigerator even though they are dried, due to the use of hemp hearts and flax seeds, which can become rancid tasting if not refrigerated (not sure if this is necessary).
total fat 46.5 g
net carbs 4.3 g
protein 8.7 g
Keto Hot Cereal Mix
- 3 cups hemp hearts
- 3 cups nut or seed flour
- 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut macaroon coconut works well
- 1 1/2 cup flax seeds ground
- 1 1/2 cups chia seeds
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 12 scoops Vanilla MCT powder with Stevia Optional-you can simply add 2 Tbsp keto friendly sweetener instead
- 1 cup freeze dried berries Optional
- 1 cup chopped nuts Optional
In a very large bowl add all ingredients.
Mix until thoroughly blended. Place in gallon air tight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer (flax seeds, and hemp hearts will turn rancid once exposed to air if not kept in refrigerator or freezer).
To make hot cereal mix 1/2 cup of the mix, with 1/2 cup water and microwave on high for 2 mins.
Serve with nut milk and butter, or plain.
total fat 37.9 g
net carbs 3.4 g
protein 10.1 g