What Was the Keto Diet Originally Used For? It Wasn’t Weight Loss

It’s the diet everyone is itching to try. A high-fat eating plan that can help you lose weight sounds almost too good to be true. In many ways, it isn’t. It really can work.

The keto diet isn’t about eating copious amounts of butter and coconut oil, though. You can actually lose a significant amount of weight — if you’re willing to change your eating ways and tolerate the side effects, that is.

But did you know keto wasn’t always meant for weight loss? It was first developed nearly 100 years ago to treat a disease that had nothing to do with metabolism. Here’s why that changed.

How a low-carb diet can treat epilepsy

Brain scan

Brain scan | iStock.com/utah778

The diet was originally developed in the 1920s in response to the belief that fasting could reduce or even stop seizures. It mimics the effects of starvation without putting a person in medical danger.

Doctors still recommend the keto diet for children whose seizures don’t respond to normal treatment. Many children with epilepsy who go on the keto diet while continuing to take medication experience a reduction in the frequency of their seizures.

The keto diet forces the body to use fat as its primary fuel source instead of carbs. Even though it’s almost a century old, doctors still aren’t sure why the diet has this effect. But its impact on metabolism does have other health benefits — which may explain how it became a weight loss fad.

The keto diet and metabolic diseases

If you follow the keto diet line by line, a few things will definitely happen: you will eat fewer calories, consume less sugar, and all but eliminate junk food from your diet. It may have originally been designed to fight one specific disease, but it has the possibility to prevent many more.

Obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes are all considered metabolic diseases. Most of the time, food plays a major role in their development. They share common risk factors that following keto just happens to lower if followed properly.

It’s considered a low-carb diet, which means it can lower or stabilize insulin levels and keep blood sugar within a normal range. Taking in massive amounts of carbs can cause blood sugar spikes in the short term and insulin resistance over time.

Eating fewer processed foods and fueling your body with more nutritious options on the keto diet can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Keto is a popular weight loss diet because people who follow it restrict their calorie intake and often eat higher-quality foods. Whether or not it’s effective for that purpose depends on the individual.

Keto diet for beginners: Is it really worth it?

ketogenic diet

ketogenic diet | ThitareeSarmkasat/iStock/Gety Images

Is the keto diet an effective weight loss tool, even though it wasn’t originally designed for it? The short answer is: it can be — for some people.

On the keto diet, most people eat more protein than they otherwise would. They also eat healthier fats and fewer “bad” carbs. The average keto diet incorporates a variety of food groups, including vegetables, fish, some fruits, and certain grain-based products.

When you eat mostly healthy foods and eliminate junk foods high in carbs and unhealthy fats, weight loss often occurs naturally. You can give it a name and a few rules and call it is own diet, but the basic principles are almost always the same: eat less junk, eat more nutritious food, and get moving.

For some people, it’s more complicated than that. But weight loss always starts with small changes and takes time to achieve.

If keto helps you start making positive changes that can last a lifetime, then it’s the right diet for you. If you’re hoping to lose weight fast and keep it off, it might not be.

Trying it probsbly won’t hurt. But always choose a diet you can stick to for the long-term that does what it promises — even if it takes months to start seeing results.

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