Scientific research continues to point toward the benefits of fasting to lose weight and improve your health. Intermittent fasting has becoming increasingly popular and has been shown to induce weight loss, improve immune regulation and slow the aging process. (You can read more about my take on intermittent fasting here.) But for those who find it difficult to commit to a full-on fast, here’s something new to consider.

Read more

Have you tried every diet in the book, spent hundreds — or even thousands — on weight loss products, specialized foods and fitness products, only to find you’re right back where you began? Maybe you lost a few pounds here and there, but never found a diet plan that really worked for you, and eventually gained back any weight you’d lost.

Read more

You may have seen the recent USA Today article, Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy, based on a statement released by the American Heart Association advising Americans to replace saturated fat (as is found in coconut oil) with omega-6 rich polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils. The article quickly went viral on social media, causing a panic among natural foodies, crunchy moms and those who’ve used coconut as a substitute for vegetable oil and other cooking oils.

But here’s why I don’t want you to panic about coconut oil. Coconut oil is an absolutely healthy fat especially when eaten on a low carbohydrate diet.

When coconut oil is added to a healthy whole foods-based, low-carbohydrate diet, you will see an improvement in your lipid profile over time.

The USA Today article calls coconut oil out for raising the LDL (a.k.a. “bad”) cholesterol levels in seven out of seven controlled trials. But the reality is that on their own, high cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of cardiovascular risk. In fact, the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee no longer considers dietary cholesterol a nutrient of concern, given that there is "no appreciable relationship between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol or clinical cardiovascular events in general populations,” so cholesterol content should not deter you from consumption of saturated fat. (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015)

Low cholesterol has also been indicated as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, suicide, homicide, accidental deaths, and morbid depression. Other research has shown that women with a total cholesterol below 195 mg/dL have a higher risk of mortality compared to women with higher total cholesterol. (Petrusson, Sigurdsson, Bengtsson, Nilsen, & Getz, 2012).

Saturated fats are only a concern when eating with highly refined carbohydrates as in the Standard American Diet.

The saturated fat in coconut oil isn’t all bad for you, either. In fact, recent data in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which compiled data from 21 studies including more than 340,000 people who were followed for an average of 14 years, concluded that there is no clear relationship between the consumption of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. (Siri-Tarino, Sun, Hu, & Krauss, 2010)

A high-fat diet may actually reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. A trial published in the American Journal of Nutrition in 2016 showed that eating a high-fat diet improved biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk and insulin resistance. (Veum et al., 2016) Replacing proteins and carbohydrates (sugar, wheat, etc) with healthy fats, including coconut oil, may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. There is little evidence that a low-fat-high-carb diet aids in the prevention of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes or obesity. (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015)

The consumption of extra virgin coconut oil has been demonstrated to significantly reduce body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference and produce significant increases in concentrations of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in patients with coronary artery disease. (Cardoso et al., 2015)

While coconut oil certainly isn’t as unhealthy as the USA Today article claims, it must be consumed in moderation with an otherwise healthy diet. If you simply add coconut oil into your Standard American Diet, you will not see the potential health benefits coconut oil has to offer.

Read more about coconut oil and its benefits here.

Read more

Too much stress in your life doesn’t just affect your mental well being, it wreaks havoc on your body and could lead to symptoms mirroring those of hypothyroidism.

Types of Stress

Stress comes in a number of ways, some impacting us more than others and at different times in our lives. At some point in time, most of us will experience stress in some (or all) of these forms:

  • Financial stress

  • Relationships

  • Schedules

  • Commutes

  • Raising children

  • The stock market

  • Skipping meals

  • Living a “western” lifestyle

There are other factors not commonly considered when people think of “stress” which also burden the adrenal glands. Fluctuating blood sugar is the most common way that adrenal dysfunction and high or low cortisol can wreak havoc on the body’s metabolism by causing hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Other common factors that stress the adrenals are dysbiosis, food intolerances (especially gluten), chronic infections and autoimmune issues, environmental toxin and inflammation.

Stress and Your Body

The adrenals are two glands that are about the size of your thumbnail that sit atop the kidneys. They secrete hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for our body’s response to stress. Adrenal fatigue is the name given to a poorly working adrenal gland in response to mental, emotional or physical stress.

Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up

  • Mood swings

  • Frequent illness and susceptibility to colds and flues

  • Irritability or lightheadedness between meals

  • Sugar and caffeine cravings

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Eating to relieve fatigue

  • Dizziness when moving from sitting or lying to standing

  • Gastric ulcers

Poor functioning adrenals can cause hypothyroid symptoms without any problem in the thyroid gland itself. In such cases, treating the thyroid is both unnecessary and ineffective and addressing the adrenals themselves is the key to improving thyroid function. Many times, people, especially women, have been treated with thyroid hormones only to have no relief of their symptoms of weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, insomnia, etc.

Adrenal stress can also impact thyroid function more direct ways, including the following five mechanisms:

Promotes Autoimmunity by Weakening Immune Barriers — The digestive tract, lungs and the blood-brain barrier are the primary immune barriers in the body. They prevent foreign substances from entering the bloodstream and the brain. Adrenal stress weakens these barriers and promotes poor immune system regulation. When these immune barriers are porous large proteins and other antigens like lipopolysaccharides are able to pass into the bloodstream or brain where they don’t belong. The immune system gets keyed up and we become more prone to autoimmune diseases.

Disrupts the HPA Axis — Studies have shown that the inflammatory cytokines (messengers) IL-1 beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha, which are released during the stress response, down-regulate the HPA-axis and reduce levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). So your body doesn’t make as much thyroid hormones.

Reduces Conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone) — 93% of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland is T4, in inactive thyroid hormone that must be converted into T3 before it can be used by the cells. The inflammatory cytokines from adrenal stressors disrupt the hypothalmus-pituitary-adrenal gland (HPA ) axis, they also interfere with the conversion of T4 to T3 in peripheral tissues such as the liver and the gut. Inflammatory cytokines have been shown to suppress the conversion of T4 to T3. In fact, inflammatory cytokines have been shown to suppress thyroid receptors on the cells making the thyroid hormones ineffective at increasing cellular activity. While there’s no practical way to measure receptor site sensitivity in a clinical setting, the research suggests thyroid receptor messaging is decreased in autoimmune and other inflammatory conditions.

Causes Other Hormonal Imbalances — Cortisol is released by the adrenals during the stress response. Prolonged cortisol elevations, caused by chronic stress, decrease the liver’s ability to detox excess estrogens from the blood. Excess estrogen increases thyroid binding globulin (TBG), the proteins that thyroid hormone is attached to as it’s transported through the body, making the hormone inactive. TBG is like a cab that drives the hormone around. When it is not functional, the thyroid hormone cannot get out of the cab. Other drugs can also increase elevated TBG including birth control pills and estrogen replacement.

What Do You Do If You Have Poor Adrenal Function?

Adrenal stress is caused by many factors from diet, lifestyle and psychological stress to immune issues, dybiosis and inflammation. When these conditions exist, they must be addressed or any attempt to support the adrenals directly will either fail or be only partially successful.

General guidelines for adrenal health:

  • Stabilize blood sugar via a balanced paleo or ketogenic diet

  • Practice stress management and relaxation techniques

  • Avoid dietary causes of inflammation – food intolerances, Omega 6 fats, processed foods

  • Have fun, laugh and make pleasure a regular part of your life

  • Take adequate intake of Omega 3 fats DHA & EPA

  • Additional nutritional supplementation of phosphatidylserine and adaptogenic herbs like Siberian ginseng, Ashwagandha, Rholdiola and Holy basil leaf extract are also helpful in supporting the adrenal glands

Read more

I have to admit for several years now, I have been resistant to personally doing intermittent fasting. I have a fairly stressful, fulfilled life as a nutritionist in practice and as a CEO of two companies. To be honest, I felt that intermittent fasting would be too hard on my cortisol and leptin control. But, I am also a body hacker and often use my body as the N=1 experiment so I decided to give intermittent fasting a trial run.

First, I dug into the research of Dr. Varaday and alternate day fasting. (Click here to read about the different types of fasts.) In her experiments, Varady’s subjects did alternate day fasting in which they ate a 500-calorie meal for lunch on one day — the fast day — and then the next day ate what they liked and continued on this one day fasting, one day feeding pattern. This pattern then was repeated.

Then I combed over the work of Valter Longo and his colleagues on intermittent fasting for periods of five days at 500 calories with several days of refeeds. In their research, the participants followed specific caloric and macronutrient restrictions for five days and then went back to normal eating for up to one month with positive after effects of weight loss, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammation, aging and cancer.

My First Intermittent Fasting Protocol: Week One Results

First Five Days: Each fasting day, I ate one 200-calorie meal at lunchtime and then one 300-calorie meal at dinner time. This was to allow for time at the table with my husband while he was eating. I did find myself hungry on days three to five after dinner. I think it would work better to do one meal at 500 calories one time in the day around lunch. The combine values of meals consisted of 70 percent of the calories from fat, 10 percent from carbs and 20 percent from protein. Example: Two ounces of chicken thigh, one small avocado, one cup of spinach — garnish with lemon and salt for the day with lots of water. I also allowed one cup of Organo Gold coffee with MCT oil in the morning.

After the five days, I found I had great energy and my clothes were loose. I had lost 5lbs in five days. After the first two weeks of refeeding, I kept the weight off and still felt good.

So looking at the work of Valter Longo, this result, albeit short, mimicked what they saw in their research — all inflammation markers improved.

Next I am trying alternating fasting days with refeed days. Below is my modified alternate fasting day plan. After this experiment, I will let you know how it goes. This time I am doing lab work before and after to track inflammatory marker changes.


• Each fasting day, eat one 500-calorie meal (women) or one 600-calorie meal (men) ideally at lunchtime. This meal should consist of 70 percent of the calories from fat, 10 percent from carbs and 20 percent from protein. Example: Two ounces of chicken thigh, one small avocado, one cup of spinach — garnish with lemon and salt. Have hot tea or one cup of coffee with one tbsp of MCT oil at breakfast to keep the catecolamines reduced.

• On fast days, exercise moderately in the morning with a brisk morning walk.

• Have hot beverages with no sugar in them between meals on fast days. Drinking a warm beverage tricks the body into thinking you have had a small, warm meal. I prefer bone broth during the day and a warm tea like chamomile tea at night.

• Eat enough protein on non-fast days.Adequate protein intake is associated with fullness and satiety. If you are maintaining a ketogenic diet, your ratio of 70 percent fat, 10 percent carbs and 20 percent protein would still be a goal without any calorie restriction. If you don’t want to stay ketogenic, you can eat a modified ketogenic diet at 60 percent fat, 20 percent carbs and 20 percent protein. I am going to stick to a 70/20/10 ketogenic diet for the refeeding days.


• Exercise in the evening on fast days, or you may want to eat more and you may have more insomnia.

• Keep your weight lifting and more intense workouts to your refeeding days. Refeeding days with more calories are the ideal days to work hard with more fuel available for HITT exercise and anaerobic exercise.

• Break up your meals on fast days. For most people, having a MCT oil laced breakfast beverage, plenty of water and a 500-calorie lunch on fasting days with bone broth and tea over the evening work better than having three 150 calorie meals.

Read more

Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. As mentioned in my previous blogs on this topic, those with adrenal fatigue and poor insulin control cannot jump into intermittent fasting overnight. It takes a skilled plan to move you from feeding frequency to control blood sugar — the often quoted three meals and two snacks a day to insulin sensitivity and then reducing the number of meals you have to three per day with no snacks and no crashes between meals. This must be done before embarking on intermittent fasting or you most likely will not get the benefits you desire from intermittent fasting.

But there is a darker side to intermittent fasting — It can lead to orthorexia, a disordered eating pattern where one becomes obsessed with eating what one deems “healthy food.” This just like any other eating disorder can become destructive. If a dietary regimen has strict guidelines, it can feed into the control mechanism that is often at play in disordered eating.

On the other side, hunger induced by the fasting can lead to binging above and beyond what would be considered a healthy refeeding cycle. That hunger physically may result in a feeling of fullness but the brain and emotional centers may not get the right message to stop feeding at the full signal. Or even worse, we might rationalize the over eating due to the fasting that preceded it.

Danger Signs to Watch For While Intermittent Fasting:

• Becoming obsessive, down to the minute, with the fasting and feeding time window.
• Feeling overly full from the large meals causing the desire to restrict intake.
• Rationalizing larger meals than what is prescribed after a fast.
• Dodging family friends and events to control your exposure to foods during fasting periods.
• Consuming large amounts of caffeine to kill your appetite between feeding.

There can be a “dark side” to intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is fine for some, but not for all. The studies show also that men tend to handle it better than women from a body chemistry and hormones standpoint.

According to Stafani Ruper’s, Paleo for Women, a review of the evidence on intermittent fasting, Ruper found that sex differences on studies with rats suggest a heightened sensitivity to starvation in females as opposed to males, in particular in terms of the adrenal stress response, which is harmful to reproductive systems and sleep cycles. One of these studies (Martin et al. 2007) suggests that this kind of physiological response in women may be a clue to the higher prevalence of anorexia in women than men.

Common symptoms of starvation including of elevated hunger and heightened cognitive and motor activity, along with the accompanying reproductive shutdown, may increase female survival in periods of famine (see also Hoyenga and Hoyenga 1982), but may also represent an evolutionary basis for women’s greater vulnerability to anorexia thanks to its distinctive cognitive-physiological accompaniments. This means fasting may be more likely to act as a dangerous trigger for eating disorders in women than in men.


Intermittent fasting can be used for weight loss and several hundred studies over the years show that in addition to inducing weight loss, it can improve immune regulation, slow the aging process and induce autophagy (degradation) of decayed and damaged cells. Intermittent fasting may work for some but there are caveats to starting a program that involves extending fasting.

First, you must also understand that intermittent fasting does not mean fasting for a period of time then eating off-the-rails the rest of the time. For intermittent fasting to work, you must eat healthy and appropriately on the non-fasting days to see the effects, especially if your goal is to lose weight. You also need to have good adrenal reserves —meaning if you have low energy and also feel weird and tired, this may not be the best thing for you. Adrenal fatigue is real and it’s impact on hormones and fat storage can be made worse by fasting. So if you are not sure about if you may have adrenal fatigue, you may want to get fully checked out before starting on a fasting program.

If you are considering intermittent fasting, here is a breakdown of the various methods to consider:

The 16/8 Method

  • Fasting every day for 14 -16 hours — restricting eating to a 8-10 hour window daily.

  • Created by Martin Berkhan.

  • Usually not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.

  • For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals.

  • Women are recommended to only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.

Alternate Day Fasting

  • Fasting either with a complete dietary fast of no calories every other 24 hours, or fasting with less than 500 calories every other day.

  • Many labs testing the efficacy of intermittent fasting have used this method.

  • Most proponents fast from a dinner one day to the dinner the next day, allowing for one meal over the 24-hour period.

  • This may be the hardest plan as it takes quite a bit of will power later in the day.

The 5/2 Method

  • Fasting on a low-calorie protein, sparing fast of 500-800 calories two different days a week.

  • Created by British journalist Michael Mosley.

  • Usually not eating anything for breakfast and reducing calories two days a week while eating regularly throughout the rest of the week.

  • For example, Tuesday and Thursday women would eat 250 calories for lunch and dinner and a man would eat 400 calories for lunch and dinner.

  • Women are recommended to only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.

  • No real studies on this particular type of intermittent fasting.

Eat, Stop, Eat

  • Fasting one to two times a week — restricting all foods on restriction days to non-caloric foods, then eating normally during the rest of the week.

  • Created by Brad Pilon.

  • Most proponents fast from a dinner one day to the dinner the next day, allowing for one meal over the 24 hour period.

  • This may be the second hardest plan behind the every other day fasting as it takes quite a bit of will power later in the day.

The Warrior Diet

  • Fasting during the day and eating a huge meal at night.

  • Created by Ori Hofmekler.

  • Most proponents fast with a little vegetable or fruit during the day and then have a larger, Paleo meal at dinner.

  • Food choices are key to this diet — one cannot eat processed foods and attain the goals of intermittent fasting.

Fasting Mimicking and Enhancing Dietary Programs

  • Protocol born out of more than 20 peer reviewed clinical studies that are being conducted at the University of Southern California and in other leading US and European university hospitals.

  • Fasting enhanced diet of caloric restriction with reduced carbohydrate and protein macronutrients with adequate fat for 5 days — calorie count of 500 calories that day.

  • Food choices quite specific and controlled during the five days — meal kits are coming to the market from L-Nutra in the near future.

  • Fasting is repeated as often as one time a month to one time every six months as needed.

Varady Alternate Day Fasting

  • Fasting day of a reduction in calories of 75%.

  • Protocol born out of studies at University of Illinois, Chicago.

  • Fasting calorie count of 500 calories that day.

  • Fasting is repeated every other day.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It is not something that anyone needs to do; it is just another tool in the toolbox that can be useful for some people.

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as men because of the hormonal impact to leptin sensitivity in women.

Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?

If you think a method of intermittent fasting could greatly simplify your nutrition, then maybe you should give it a try.

And please keep in mind, no method/nutrition approach will produce the results you want if you’re miserable and fall off the wagon. You need to find a method you enjoy and that you can stick to long term.

Read more

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is the practice of alternating intervals feeding and fasting. The most popular method of intermittent fasting will be discussed in a later article, but for now, it’s enough to mention that there are differences between fasting methods, length of time of the fasting window and the placement of meals. The fasting period on specific plans can range from 14 hours to 36 hours. Though there are different fasting methods, each specific plan has benefits.

The exception for most people is the time in which we are asleep. When you’re sleeping, you’re fasting. Most people maintain a regular fasting period of six to eight hours per night until their first meal in the morning. The name “breakfast” literally refers to the “break” in the overnight “fast.”

What are the benefits of fasting?

It is commonly taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A study conducted in 2008 suggests that people who eat a calorie-dense breakfast will lose more weight than those who don’t eat breakfast. Authors of the study assumed that eating more calories in the morning results in less snacking during the day, and a reduced daily caloric intake overall.

First, there’s the improved insulin sensitivity that comes with fasting, especially when paired with exercises. More study evidence seems to support the notion that eating breakfast results in a slimmer waistline. There are some epidemiological studies that show a connection skipping breakfast and higher body weight. In fact, insulin sensitivity has shown to be better in those who eat breakfast in studies. I believe this has more to do with adrenal function, stress and hormone balance than the idea of fasting.

There are also hormonal benefits that lead to improved body fat to muscle ratio or body composition. Growth hormone has been shown to increase during intermittent fasting and may offset the effects of cortisol, which can lead to belly fat storage because it increases insulin resistance and fat storage.

This brings us to an interesting question about intermittent fasting. If insulin sensitivity isn’t higher just in the morning and it is really just higher after the eight to 10 hour fasting periods, then insulin sensitivity is higher when glycogen levels are depleted after a fast regardless of the timing of that fast if the liver glycogen will be somewhat depleted.

Generally, intermittent fasting does result in eating less frequently, which tends to result in eating fewer calories overall.

There is also a fascinating anti-aging mechanism of intermittent fasting. When you force the body to use another fuel other than glucose and fat, the body will use its own damaged cellular proteins for energy. When you eat again the cell will use the new nutrients to repair and replace the damaged proteins. This process occurs in short periods of times so the net effect is that the body cleans up cellular debris during a short fast.

But there is a caveat to intermittent fasting. For women, intermittent fasting may not be the panacea that we have all dreamed about. Many women find that when they intermittent fasting leads to sleeplessness, insomnia, anxiety and irregular periods, among a number of other symptoms and disruption of hormones due to the impact of fasting on starvation hormone regulation of leptin, cortisol, ghrelin and insulin. Additionally, women are more finely tuned to respond with physiological changes in relation to perceived starvation.

Intermittent fasting can be a mechanism to assist with optimizing health but it needs to be individualized to each person based on his or her hormonal and physiological stress levels.

Stay tuned for our next article in which we will discuss the different types of intermittent fasting.

Read more

We are full of fat, as an interesting review article published last year in The European Journal of Sport Sciences points out. The article, “Rethinking Fat as a Fuel for Endurance Exercise,” notes that even the leanest marathon runner has more than 30,000 kilocalories of fatty tissue in reserve — enough fat to fuel multiple marathons.

Carbohydrates, stored in the muscles as glycogen, is generally what athletes focus on as fuel because dietary fat is not as readily available as glycogen, which is easy to liberate and burn from the muscles. Before it can be used as fuel by the muscles, fat must first be broken down into fatty acids and other component. It’s this step that makes dietary fat less accessible and less efficient as a fuel, especially during intense exercise.

So, theoretically, being able to burn fat as fuel even in the most prolonged and strenuous exercise may aid in recovery from that exercise by reducing inflammation and muscle damage and improve performance.

According to Dr. Burke, the head of sports nutrition at the Australian Sports Commission, there has been no study that has shown ketogenic diets to be effective at “enhance sports performance,” only that they increase fat burning rates in elite endurance athletes. And the same studies generally show that high-fat diets inhibit performance during high-intensity sprints, which demand fast-burning glycogen stores.

Should you decide to try fat-loading your diet, bear in mind that the switch is likely to disrupt your training in the beginning. Performance actually declines dramatically during the first several weeks. The body runs low on glycogen before it becomes well-adapted to using fat. Low glycogen may leave you feeling fatigued, heavy-legged, nauseated and even ill for up to a month.

What the research shows:

In the first study to profile elite athletes eating very low-carbohydrate diets, researchers studied 20 ultra-endurance runners age 21-45 who were top competitors in running events of 50 kilometers or more. Ten athletes ate a low-carb diet consisting of 10 percent carbs, 19 percent protein and 70 percent fat. The other group of athletes consumed a high-carb diet, getting more than half their calories from carbs. The athletes were similar: in other aspects, such as elite status, age, performance, training history and maximum oxygen capacity.

During an endurance run, the two groups showed similar ratings in oxygen consumption, perceived exertion and calorie expenditure. However, fat-burning rates were about twice as high in the low-carb athletes. Scientists reviewed the athletes’ maximum oxygen intake to gauge carb- and fat-burning rates.

The high-carb runners were very healthy, and were great at burning fat by conventional standards, yet their peak fat burning is less than half that of endurance athletes eating low-carb diets.

Another key finding: Despite their low intake of carbs, these fat-burning athletes had normal muscle glycogen levels — the storage form of carbohydrates — at rest. That means they broke down roughly the same level of glycogenas the high-carb runners during the long run, and made the same amount of glycogen in their muscles during recovery as the high-carb athletes.

Read more

Since the 1920s, very-low-carbohydrate diets or ketogenic diets have been used as a therapy for epilepsy and can, in some cases, completely remove the need for medication. Beginning in the 1960s onwards ketogenic diets became widely known as a common treatment for obesity.

A ketogenic diet isn’t just beneficial for weight loss. A high-fat, low-carb diet reduces body fat percentage and improves numerous health markers. In the last decade, research has provided evidence of the therapeutic potential of ketogenic diets in many conditions, such as: diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, neurological diseases, cancer and the improvement of respiratory and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

In one study on the long-term benefits of a ketogenic diet, researchers observed 83 obese patients with high glucose and cholesterol levels, after 24 weeks on a ketogenic diet, LDL decreased, HDL increased, level of trigylcerides (fat found in the blood) decreased and blood glucose levels significantly decreased.

Here are some of the proven health benefits of a ketogenic diet:

Reduces dangerous belly fat. Not all fat is the same. Visceral fat in the abdominal cavity tends to lodge around the organs and can cause inflammation, insulin resistance and may be a driver of metabolic dysfunction. A ketogenic diet is effective at reducing harmful abdominal fat, drastically reducing risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Lowers triglycerides. Triglycerides are fat molecules found in the blood. Fasting triglycerides — a test of how many triglycerides are in the blood after an overnight fast — is a strong risk factor for heart disease. Elevated triglyceride levels are caused by carbohydrate and fructose consumption. By cutting carbs, you can dramatically reduce blood triglycerides.

Increases HDL. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL carries LDL (“bad” cholesterol) away from the body to the liver where it can be reused and excreted. The higher your levels of HDL, the lower your risk of heart disease. Eating healthy fats is one of the best ways to increase HDL levels. A low-carb diet effectively lowers triglycerides while raising HDL levels, improving the triglycerides:HDL ratio, which is a strong predictor of heart disease.

Changes pattern of LDL cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. People who have high LDL levels are more likely to suffer a heart attack. Not only is the amount of LDL in the blood important, scientists have found that the size of LDL particles also matters in assessing one’s risk of heart disease. People who have mostly small LDL particles have a higher risk of heart disease. Low-carb diets such as a ketogenic diet turn the LDL particles from small to large, whole reducing LDL cholesterol in the blood stream.

Reduces blood sugar and insulin levels. Carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars (mostly glucose) in the digestive tract. Once they enter the bloodstream, they cause blood sugar levels to increase. Insulin is produced by the body to minimize blood sugar spikes, but people who are overweight or obese often experience insulin resistance, which means the body is less effective at managing blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes. Reducing carbohydrate consumption is a very effective way to treat and possibly even reverse type 2 diabetes.

Lowers blood pressure. Increased body fat forces the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, resulting in elevated blood pressure levels. Elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is a risk factor for a number of health concerns, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Because a low-carb diet reduces body fat, it can lead to a reduction in blood pressure, therefore reducing risk of many common diseases.

Treats metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition associated with the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is a collection of symptoms including: abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, high triglycerides and low HDL levels. A ketogenic diet reduces each of these symptoms individually, thereby treating metabolic syndrome as a whole.

Read more about the basics of the ketogenic diet here.

Learn more about how ketosis can help you lose weight here.

Read more