Can the Keto Diet Improve Your Skin?

Losing unwanted weight is synonymous with eliminating carbs and sugar from the menu on a ketogenic diet, and we have experienced more than that at Konscious Keto. There are many other benefits also offered by increased ketones, and improved skin health and vibrancy are common among them.

Improved skin health is a symptom of a low-carb, high-fat, diet, mostly the result of the enhanced function of body and brain that occur when in a state of metabolic ketosis—in the absence of refined sugar in the diet.

Reduced inflammation, increased hydration, and eating a diet rich in healthy fats and dark leafy greens can all aid in improving vitality and providing a supple and youthful look to the skin.

The following tips are the ideal way to improve your skin on a keto diet.

Eating Keto-Friendly Vegetables

Contrary to the perception of the misguided, eating lots of low-glycemic vegetables are permitted and even encouraged on a standard ketogenic diet.

Eating a low-carb, high-fat diet can best promote optimal health when healthy fats and quality proteins are heavily paired with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables abundant in rich phytonutrients.

While all vegetables provide a unique profile of nutrients, some are particularly ideal for those looking to keep the carbs low and nutrition high.

Here is a list of excellent vegetables to eat on a ketogenic diet:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green beans
  • Olives
  • Avocado 
  • Bell peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini

There are a wide variety of veggie options on the lower end of the glycemic index, and within this spectrum is a plethora of vitamins and nutrients all geared to facilitate healthy and glowing skin.

The veggies noted above are great options to support healthy skin, and that's due to their unique nutritive make-up. The following are some more foods that are essential to a flawless complexion on a ketogenic diet:

Olive Oil:

In addition to providing lots of monounsaturated fat, olive oil offers a guard against UV ray damage, something that can accelerate the appearance of age and even lead to cancer, if left unmanaged.

Eggs:

Many seeking to curb the carbs rely on affordable foods like eggs, as they're packed with healthy fat and protein, but eggs are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin—two antioxidants that shield your eyes and skin from harmful UV rays.

Go figure, adding a few extra omelets to your weekly meal plan can go a long way to keep you within your macronutrient targets, on budget and prevent wrinkles, lines, brown spots, and even skin cancer.

Seafood:

Like most disorders and disease, the root of most skin issues is inflammation. Fortunately, omega-3-rich, wild-caught fish, and other seafood are excellent options to keep you feeling satiated while supporting skin integrity.

Furthermore, a recent study found that the consumption of seafood sources that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps prevent acne and support the sustenance of a glowing complexion.

Nuts:

Whether adding buttery texture to salads or as a critical ingredient in a keto trail mix, low-glycemic nuts are a fantastic food option on a ketogenic diet.

Almonds, pili nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, and walnuts are all tasty additions to ensure adequate fat and protein, as well as helping to lock moisture into the skin, then leading to the skin looking youthful and supple.

Leafy Greens:

Again, dark leafy greens are a champion to those following a ketogenic diet as they are delicious, help curtail carbs, and are abundant in key nutrients. Vitamin A (a.k.a. retinol) is a primary ingredient in the majority of the facial creams and treatments on the market, thanks to its ability to aid in cell turnover which facilitates improved circulation as well as plump and supple skin.

Check out our recent post featuring quick and easy 10-minute keto meals sure to please the entire family, keto or not, along with our free keto meal plan, here.

Moving into a Healthy BMI  

Our body mass index (BMI) is an essential indicator of health and is calculated by comparing the ratio between your weight and height.

A healthy BMI is vital as elevated levels may lead to an increased risk of high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer.

Most attention regarding the topic of BMI health is focused on those with numbers tipping the higher end of the index, but those who are underweight and ranking low on the index, due to an insufficient intake of calories, may be susceptible to an increased risk of conditions associated with malnutrition.

Underwater weighing or bioelectrical impedance are excellent methods to get an accurate calculation of BMI, but some may not have access to these more expensive methods. Here's how to calculate your BMI for free, in the comfort of your own home.

You can determine your BMI with the following formula:

  • Weight (in pounds) / [Height (in inches) x Height (in inches)] x 703.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use BMI to identify a universal range for what constitutes a healthy weight or obesity as follows:

  • Underweight: BMI below 18.5
  • Average weight: 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight: 25.0 to 29.9
  • Obese: 30.0 and above

Certain lifestyle factors like smoking, working in a sedentary profession, and a lack of regular physical activity can contribute to an increased risk of disease, even if your BMI is within the normal range.

Conversely, positive lifestyle choices like remaining physically active and maintaining balanced glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can further improve ones' health outlook, along with the benefits of having a normal-range BMI.

A ketogenic diet has a positive impact on achieving an ideal BMI, as nutritional ketosis aids in accelerated fat loss and appetite suppression, a powerful tool to reduce weight and bring us into the range best suited for our height.

In addition to the simple equation mentioned above, you can use free online calculators to determine your BMI to set the goal post for your weight-loss efforts.  

While a healthy BMI is an important indicator of health, it only provides part of the complete picture. Consult your physician to evaluate your current state of health before beginning a ketogenic or any other diet plan.

Losing Abdominal Fat

If you're on a mission to shed the pounds, you may be happy for a loss regardless of the type of fat, or its location, but not all fat is created equal.

Our body contains subcutaneous fat, that sitting under your skin, and visceral fat, which accumulates in your abdominal area and is typical for most overweight men or over-stressed and obese women.

While subcutaneous fat is pesky as it is associated with the dimpling we've all come to know as cellulite, it's relatively harmless. However, visceral fat is dangerous as it tends to lodge and plaque around the organs.

Excess visceral fat can prove problematic as it is linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance and inflammation, which can manifest in symptoms like a rash or other skin issues.

Furthermore, the majority of the weight released on a low-carb diet comes from the abdominal cavity, a great way to reduce inflammation and prevent chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Losing a significant amount of abdominal fat is an excellent method to avoid metabolic problems and further support holistic health.

Lowering Triglycerides

Everyone seems excited about increasing ketone levels in the body on a ketogenic diet because of the reported reduction of triglyceride levels. Excessive triglycerides—a fat molecule—in the blood have been known to increase the risk of heart disease.

Many with excess levels of triglycerides in the blood have the abundance of carbohydrates and refined sugars in their diet, mainly fructose, along with a sedentary lifestyle.

Interestingly, a low-carb diet is shown to significantly and rapidly reduce blood triglyceride levels while low-fat diets resulted in increased triglycerides—likely due to followers relying more on sugar and carbs to restrict fat intake.

Heart health, proper circulation, and correct triglyceride levels in the body all contribute to a highly-oxygenated body and youthful skin.

Improving Good Cholesterol

Cholesterol has gotten a bit of a bad reputation over the past decade, demonized as the culprit in an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, but like fat, not all cholesterol produces a similar effect in the body.

Surely you've heard of the binary sides of cholesterol, either termed as 'good' cholesterol (HDL) or 'bad' cholesterol (LDL). Well, a ketogenic diet encourages eating an abundance of healthy fats and proteins, which facilitate 'good cholesterol' levels, which in turn mitigates the negative impact of LDL.

Managing cholesterol is vital because elevated levels of LDL, especially in the absence of an abundance of HDL, can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.

Enjoying some grass-fed, fatty rib-eye steak, and creamed spinach is an excellent way to achieve satiety while helping to keep bad cholesterol at bay. Reducing carbs and sugar, while increasing lean protein and healthy fat, will help create an ideal HDL-LDL balance to help mitigate chronic disease.

Reducing Insulin Levels  

Balanced insulin levels are essential to the proper function of the body and brain, and breakdowns in performance impact all other systems in the body.

Fortunately, a ketogenic diet improves insulin regulation and stabilizes glucose levels as carbs, and refined sugars are eliminated and replaced with healthy fats and proteins.

Studies show that drastically reducing carbs and sugar can significantly lower blood sugar as well as insulin levels—a hallmark experience for those following a ketogenic diet.

Some following a ketogenic diet and suffering from type 2 diabetes may find the need to reduce their insulin intake by as much as 50% once in a ketotic state and properly processing and using this vital hormone.

Furthermore, eating an abundance of healthy fats and proteins are known to contribute to the turnover and maintenance of healthy hair, nails and skin!

Lowering Inflammation

Inflammation is at the root of virtually all manner of disease and reducing it in the body by way of dietary or lifestyle changes can prove highly beneficial along your wellness journey.

Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates all contribute to increased levels of oxidative stress and the presence of free radicals, which can lead to an increased risk of disease.

A ketogenic diet by its very nature helps to reduce inflammation and therefore mitigate the risk or symptoms of many diseases.

What's more, we can significantly impact our health for the better by following a ketogenic diet, even if doing so on a budget—no expensive or damaging medications required for significant results.

One recent study, observing people with type 2 diabetes, found that 95% of the participants were able to reduce their glucose-lowering medication within six months of beginning a low-carb, high-fat dietary protocol—pretty incredible. 

Reducing carb and sugar intake is the most effective and non-invasive way to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels to aid in mitigating inflammation, which leads to disease.

Consult your physician if you plan to drastically reduce carb intake and are currently on insulin-regulating medication, as your dietary changes may directly impact your needed dosage.

Keto and Acne

You may know that keto flu or keto rash are phases people may experience during their transition to ketosis, but ditching the carbs and sugar can have another side effect: acne.

While the process of entering metabolic ketosis, three-to-seven days for most, results in an enhanced nutritional state where the body is teeming with fat-burning ketones, any significant dietary change poses a level of stress on the body.

While nutritional ketosis can lead to increased energy, accelerated fat loss and even enhanced mental sharpness, the growing pains of becoming fat-adapted can throw the body out of whack temporarily during the period of adjustment. This may result in everything from bad breath to constipation and fatigue.

Also, the charge to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes, vitamins and minerals, is common for those following a ketogenic diet and for a good reason. When we deplete our glycogen stores by eliminating sugar and most carbs on keto, our body begins to release more water weight along with electrolytes, vitamins and minerals, requiring more frequent replenishment.

Once in ketosis, the increased release of body fluid can shrink skin cells, and lead to dry, crepey, irritated skin. Furthermore, increased levels of fat, especially if low-quality forms of fat like trans fat, can increase inflammation along with sebum in the skin, which may result in acne, psoriasis or eczema.

An underlying medical problem may cause some skin issues experienced after starting a ketogenic diet, so it's crucial to consult your doctor if symptoms persist or worsen.

Here are some simple tips to help keep your complexion bright and radiant while capping carbs on keto:

Reduce Lactose Intake:

Whey and lactose-based foods have been linked to an increase in acne and other skin outbreaks. Reduce or eliminate lactose and its derivative products for a period to see whether that improves your skin.

Stay Hydrated:

We've touched on the importance of drinking hydrating beverages on a ketogenic diet, primarily because of the increase in the fluid release that occurs in ketosis, and its significance is worth stating again.

Make a BPA-free bottle of water your sidekick while in ketosis, to keep hydrated and your skin cells supple and nourished while cutting the carbs.

Update Your Skincare Routine:

Our hormonal state, the foods and drinks we consume, and our lifestyle changes all contribute to our skin health.

You may find that cancelling carbs may result in problematic patches, rashes or pimples, and this may require switching up your cleanser, exfoliator, or skincare routine to support our body's ever-changing needs.

Keep a close eye on how your skin responds to even former holy-grail products to determine whether it's time to make some changes to support your skin's current needs.

See a Dermatologist:

Again, our bodies are complex inter-related systems, and a skin condition can result from different triggers.

Consider consulting a dermatologist if your skin shows signs of inflammation after starting a ketogenic diet to rule out other underlying medical issues that may be the cause of your trip back to proverbial puberty in your adulthood.

Check out some of our recent articles for a more detailed look at the causes of the keto flu and keto rash, as well as how to prevent them, to avoid the most commonly-experienced and pesky challenges folks face when starting a ketogenic diet.

Summary 

A ketogenic diet can provide a variety of health benefits that help the brain and body function properly. Hydration, balanced nutrition and staying active all work together to produce supple and glowing skin, even as we age.

While staying hydrated and eating a nutrient-dense diet contribute to producing vibrant skin, adding a quality supplement can prove helpful to ensure adequate nutrition, even if your diet isn't always spot-on.

Focus on eating a meal plan that intersects in a nutritional sweet spot that maintains ketosis and aids in skin vitality. 

Make sure to get the nutrients that aid in glowing skin and which keto-friendly foods are chock-full of the key vitamins. 

Vitamin D is one of the best vitamins for your skin, as well as vitamins C, E, and K. Here are some excellent, keto-friendly foods to eat to support optimal skin health:

Vitamin D:

Taking a 10-minute stroll every day can provide an essential dose of vitamin D, but there are also many food-based sources you can enjoy throughout the week that are tasty and help to maintain ketosis.

Try adding foods like pastured egg yolks, sardines or mackerel to your meal plan to provide the body a boost of this therapeutic vitamin.

Vitamin C:

Vital to the health and strength of bones and joints, vitamin C is best acquired from low-glycemic vegetables. The hard part is staying away from the higher glycemic vegetables and knowing which are which.

Fortunately, there are an endless variety of low-glycemic veggies to choose that help promote healthy skin, while keeping ketones high. Add foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, cauliflower and cabbage, to your meal plan to fortify bones and teeth.

Although skin outbreaks may be part of the process of fat-adaptation, there may be other reasons for skin inflammation once on a ketogenic diet.

Consider some of the best practices noted above if you experience skin challenges as you transition to ketosis, and seek professional guidance if issues persist.

The many incredible and extensive health benefits of a ketogenic diet are a great aid in overall health, but there can be some growing pains as you move away from sugar and processed foods.

No worries, although some unpleasant symptoms like the keto flu, keto rash or the emergence of acne may feel troublesome and discouraging, stay active and remember that these conditions are usually short-lived, while the benefits of ketosis can last a lifetime.

Be patient and trust the process; the benefits are well worth the journey.

Sources

  1. Egli, L., Lecoultre, V., Theytaz, F., Campos, V., Hodson, L., Schneiter, P., . . . Tappy, L., (2013). Exercise Prevents Fructose-Induced Hypertriglyceridemia in Healthy Young Subjects. Diabetes, 62(7), 2259-2265. doi:10.2337/db12-1651
  2. E.j.*, P. (2002). Dietary carbohydrates effects on lipogenesis and the relationship of lipogenesis to blood insulin and glucose concentrations. British Journal of Nutrition, 87(6), 247-253. doi:10.1079/bjnbjn/2002544
  3. Mcbride, P. E., (2007). Triglycerides and Risk for Coronary Heart Disease. Jama, 298(3), 336. doi:10.1001/jama.298.3.336
  4. Parks, E. J., (2001). Effect of Dietary Carbohydrate on Triglyceride Metabolism in Humans. The Journal of Nutrition, 131(10). doi:10.1093/jn/131.10.2772s
  5. Strandberg, T. E., (2013). Low carbohydrate diets increase saturated fat consumption. BMJ, 346(Feb13 1). doi:10.1136/bmj.f812
  6. Westman, E. C., Yancy, W. S., Mavropoulos, J. C., Marquart, M., & Mcduffie, J. R. (2008). The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & Metabolism, 5(1). doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-36
  7. Wood, R. J., Volek, J. S., Liu, Y., Shachter, N. S., Contois, J. H., & Fernandez, M. L. (2006). Carbohydrate Restriction Alters Lipoprotein Metabolism by Modifying VLDL, LDL, and HDL Subfraction Distribution and Size in Overweight Men. The Journal of Nutrition, 136(2), 384-389. doi:10.1093/jn/136.2.384

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