Many people who follow the ketogenic diet (aka keto) are obsessed with its ability to help you lose weight quickly—and keep it off. Now, new research has found that the low-carb diet may have one especially huge perk going for it: It might burn 10 times more fat than a standard American diet.
That’s the major finding from research published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews. For the study, scientists took 30 adults who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a group of health conditions that increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
They then randomly put them in three groups: One group ate a ketogenic diet but didn’t exercise, another ate a standard diet and didn’t exercise, and a third that ate a standard diet and exercised for 30 minutes a day for up to five days a week.
Here’s what they found: In 10 weeks, the group that was on the ketogenic diet had “significant” changes in their weight, body fat percentage, BMI, hemoglobin A1c (a test that measures a person’s blood sugar), and ketones (the result of your body burning fat for energy).
Once they reached dietary ketosis, their resting metabolic rate, which is the rate that your body body burns energy when you’re not doing anything, was more than 10 times that of people who ate a standard diet. “All variables for the ketogenic group out-performed those of the exercise and non-exercise groups,” the researchers wrote in the study.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that encourages followers to get a moderate amount of protein. Carbs are generally replaced with fats, and it’s thought that this shifts your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
The keto diet generally shuns sugar, processed foods, low-fat foods, grains and gluten, high-carb fruit, and vegetable oils. Instead, followers are encouraged to eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, lean meats and fish, full-fat dairy, and nuts and seeds. It’s worth pointing out that this study is small and it focused on people with a health condition—not otherwise healthy people. The diet can also hard to stick to long term and isn’t for everybody.
Still, the findings are definitely worth thinking about if you’ve been mulling over going keto.
By Korin Miller