There are seemingly endless options to curate a diet to meet every notion or need. However, those living with diabetes may find that these diets don’t always work to balance glycemic control and blood sugar. So what about the ketogenic diet? Is it a fad that will one day be supplanted by the next newest way to eat, or will the science behind it ensure it keeps a lifelong and loyal following? And if the latter, what role can it play in the lives of those living with diabetes?


In the present study, 83 obese patients (39 men and 44 women) with a body mass index greater than 35 kg/m2, and high glucose and cholesterol levels were selected. The body weight, body mass index, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, urea and creatinine levels were determined before and after the administration of the ketogenic diet. Changes in these parameters were monitored after eight, 16 and 24 weeks of treatment.
For some, ketosis can cause more negative than positive side effects. Dorena Rode, a 52-year-old author, and speaker from Occidental, California, tried the diet for a month and experienced heart palpitations and dizziness. Unlike Drew, Rode says her cholesterol increased from 192 to 250 mg/dL after she introduced more fat into her diet. (Less than 200 mg/dL is considered desirable, while anything over 240 mg/dL is considered high.)
“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”

“You can spend two hours in the gym but ruin it with a bad meal,” said Sowers. “Incorporating all the food groups in proportioned sizes throughout the day is the best way to not only lose weight, but to also control appetite. Restaurants are also making it easier to eat healthier with calorie counts on the menu. Now people are able to make mindful choices when they go out to eat.”


The diet that I’m calling ‘keto’ here, and is designed to put the person in ketosis (where we’re getting the ‘keto’ from), is called the ‘Modified Atkins Diet’ in most medical literature. In the Modified Atkins Diet (MAD) the benefits of the body being in a state of ketosis are seen, and it is thought that the unrestricted protein and calories will prevent the children’s growth from being stunted. (source)
Celebrity endorsements is the WORST reason to start a diet. And yes, it is a diet. Why? Because it’s not long term sustainable. Anyone can lose weight; ask an overweight person. They’ve lost weight hundreds of times. Keeping it off is a whole other ballgame and depriving yourself of carbs can lead to kidney damage. Educate yourself on the dangers of high protein diets that were largely debunked in the 70’s. Get with the program, girl!
Ketogenesis has existed as long as humans have. If you eat a very low amount of carbohydrates, you starve your brain of glucose, its main fuel source. Your body still needs fuel to function, so it taps into your reserve of ketones, which are compounds the liver creates from fat when blood insulin is low. This process is known as ketosis: It’s like when a hybrid car runs out of gas and reverts to pure electricity.
The Keto diet versus Plate Method study triggered some challenges and a bit of criticism. In an editorial, Andrew Reynolds, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Otago, New Zealand, suggests that the much better results in those on the ketogenic diet may be due not to the diet itself but to the lifestyle changes and ongoing support that keto diet group received.5
But what I think is funny is that the keto diet has been staring us in the face forever. Look at Inuit tribes that survived off of blubber in a region that grows next to nothing most of the year. Yet their people didn’t die out or show signs of metabolic disorders or heart disease until introduced to the modern western diet that prioritizes carbohydrates over fat. Here is an interesting link, however I find the conclusion disheartening and frankly more than a little suspicious. (Basically the people in charge decided to drop the study and introduced a bunch of “what about…” questions to obfuscate a clear pattern in observation across many indigenous people from across the face of the planet and decided the outcome “wasn’t enough” to introduce into public policy…)
The Keto diet versus Plate Method study triggered some challenges and a bit of criticism. In an editorial, Andrew Reynolds, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Otago, New Zealand, suggests that the much better results in those on the ketogenic diet may be due not to the diet itself but to the lifestyle changes and ongoing support that keto diet group received.5

Over the past century, ketogenic diets have also been used as natural remedies to treat and even help reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairments, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s symptoms, manic depression and anxiety. Research shows that cutting off glucose levels with a very low-carb diet makes your body produce ketones for fuel. This change can help to reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairment, including inducing seizure control. The brain is able to use this alternative source of energy instead of the cellular energy pathways that aren’t functioning normally in patients with brain disorders.
Klein S, Sheard NF, Pi-Sunyer S, Daly A, Wylie-Rosett J, Kulkarni K, Clark NG. Weight management through lifestyle modification for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes: rationale and strategies. A statement of the American Diabetes Association, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80:257–263. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
And what benefit you will have with “moderate” diets that let you eat bread and others carbohydrates but high insulin ? remember that it is critical to not only look after glucose levels on blood, it is very very important to reduce your intake of insulin to avoid a lot of diseases including metabolic syndrome for high insulin and insulin resistance.
It wasn’t until my waist started pushing 35 inches that I decided I needed to do something. That something just happened to be a slight change in life style. I gave up eating processed carbs, i.e. cereals, bread, rice, pasta, pizza, beer (yes pizza And Beer!), and continued eating such things as meat, nuts, cheese, vegetables. Foregoing the processed carbs is really not that much of a loss when you consider the benefits. The impact of processed food industry didn’t hit America til the early part of the 20th century. And I dare say that it had anything to do with increasing longevity. I’ve been living a ketogenic life style for about six months and plan to continue. But for those of you thinking that its a quick fix, I’m inclined to say that, in my case, your wrong. This wasn’t exactly quick a fix. It took all of those six months to reduce my waist size to a leaner 33 inches. I’d like to think that I’m not done yet. I drink half my body weight in ounces of water (nothing to do with the ketogenic life style, but thought i’d mention it). I’m far from hungry, don’t see a down side to this, and I’m looking forward to my yearly physical and blood work results. I’m glad that I stepped outside the normal dieters box.
As with any diet, precautions need to be taken. Pregnant women and those with kidney disease are not good candidates for this diet, and some people with diabetes may find that the diet increases their insulin resistance. Dairy can often spike blood sugar, so avoiding the dairy in a keto diet and taking a Vitamin D supplement might be a better option for some people. It’s important to pay attention to the way your body responds and realize that no diet is a one-size-fits-all model.
Such great info. Husband has been seizure free 11 months. Was having 2-3 per month. Learning new and great awesome recipes. There is one side affect, I have lost 40#, our daughter, has lost 70#. However, my husband has not lost any weight. His body was at the correct weight before we started. My goal is not weight loss, that’s just lagniappe, my goal is better health. This is such an awesome journey.

Thank you for your objective review of the Keto Diet. I am not overweight but decided to try the Keto lifestyle because I have a lot of inflammation issues, including asthma and osteoarthritis. I had also been experiencing uncomfortable intestinal issues. I have been following the Keto lifestyle for 4 1/2 weeks, and I feel so much better- especially my stomach! I am eating a ton of leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower. I am also enjoying Brussel sprouts, whole avacados and zucchini. I think the reason this is working well for me is because my body chemistry loves all the vegetables, good fats and protein. I also think that taking away sugar has had a big impact on how I feel. I’m just not eating grains and sugar. lots more veggies, berries, and consciously incorporating healthy fat. My stomach is flat again, and I have no more bloating or constipation. I have only lost 5 pounds, but I think my system is clean and operating better than it has in years. My point is that every person’s body chemistry is different. The Keto lifestyle seems to be what My body needed to feel my best. I did experience “the Keto flu” about a week into it, but it was short lived. I think that to be successful it is really important to eat a wide variety of veggies and good fats every day.
Well… what are many people on a Keto diet trying to do? Lose weight right?  I would guess that prior to discovering the Keto diet many of these people were caught in the trap of low fat dieting.  This lead to months or years of low fat intake and consequentially low gallbladder activity.  The gallbladder wasn’t needed to digest fat and so it sat idle and stones were more likely to form.  Once they made the shift to a ketogenic lifestyle and their fat consumption increased upwards of 1000%, the gallbladder kicked into high gear.  If the previous period of low fat dieting had caused stone formation they are going to have to deal with flushing those stones out now while on a high fat Keto diet. 

I agree!! I too..have /had Diabetes II..at age 66 and retired RN, we were taught for so long the WRONG way to eat and I taught that way, the high carb, grains, etc, way to eat. KETO saved me. Dropped my A1C and I feel great. The author of this page is wrong when saying 5-10 percent of our diet, carb eating, should be root veggies like ‘carrots”…so wrong. For goodness sakes, get KETO right by educating yourself, Tammy Shiflet~ Horribly wrong! There are so many studies and physicians, brain scientists, etc out here who understand what this diet is about. Read, and educate yourself….Please! Diabetes is a symptom of the Government’s education mistakes. Sugar, Wheat, Grains…horrible for us. Get with it, we live in 2018 and the information is out there; if you need a list, just ask.

Registered dietitian Julie Stefanski is based in York and has specialized in the ketogenic diet for more than a decade. She also advocates for anyone starting keto, especially individuals who have not seen a doctor in more than a year, to first see a physician and/or registered dietitian to have their lab work checked and monitored. She also notes there are certain medications that cannot be used while on a ketogenic diet.  
There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >
That's certainly the case with the ketogenic diet—a very low-carb meal plan—based on the findings of two recently published studies.1,2  Dr. Saslow and her team report that the individuals with type 2 diabetes who followed the keto diet lost significantly more weight than those on the low-fat diet espoused by the American Diabetic Association.1 These dieters also were able to get their hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) below 6.5%, suggesting that some may have reversed their type 2 diabetes.1
When in ketosis, the body begins to burn stored fats for energy, and this results in the build-up of acids, known as ketones, in your blood. A person following the keto diet aims to burn unwanted fat by actually pushing the body to rely on fat, not carbohydrates, for energy. This process occurs when there isn’t enough glucose available to burn, so the body turns to stored fats instead.

In 2009, Drs. Eric Westman and Bryan Kraft published a case study and a review of the literature for a 70-year-old woman with life-long schizophrenia. Diagnosed at age 17, she had experienced daily visual and auditory hallucinations (skeletons that urged her to hurt herself) since the age of 7. She also had obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension, and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) among a number of other health issues. After only 8 days on the ketogenic diet, the voices and hallucinations stopped. At the time of publication she had continued the ketogenic diet for more than a year, with no return of hallucinations, and had lost more than 10 kilograms (22 lbs).
Sleep improvements are a bit more of a mystery. Studies have shown that ketogenic dieting improves sleep by decreasing REM and increasing slow-wave sleep patterns. While the exact mechanism is unclear, it likely is related to the complex biochemical shifts involving the brain’s use of ketones for energy combined with other body tissues directly burning fat.

In the present study, 83 obese patients (39 men and 44 women) with a body mass index greater than 35 kg/m2, and high glucose and cholesterol levels were selected. The body weight, body mass index, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, urea and creatinine levels were determined before and after the administration of the ketogenic diet. Changes in these parameters were monitored after eight, 16 and 24 weeks of treatment.
MCTs are natural sources of essential healthy fats for energy. They are easily digestible and absorbed by the body, providing instant but lasting energy. Including MCT oil in the keto diet can stabilize blood sugar levels and enhance the production of ketones. Since that is the goal of your keto diet, optimal blood ketone levels, MCT Oil is a no-brainer.
Resistant starches can be included as part of a ketogenic diet or as a supplement because it has minimal effects on blood sugar, so it doesn’t disrupt the state of ketosis. Resistant starches not only feed good bacteria in the gut but can also get fermented into substances that are beneficial for health. (Read this post to learn more about the health benefits of resistant starches and how to use them.)
There are several medical studies — such as two conducted by the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center for the University of Iowa, and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, for example — that show the ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for cancer and other serious health problems. (12)
I must tell you when looking at this link they say the American Diabetes Association Guidelines call for 60-75 carbohydrates per meal and that is simply not true. The ADA has recommended since 2013 we use our best clinical judgement in recommending a low carbohydrate diet for people with diabetes, recognizing it needs to be individualized. 60-75 grams is the carbohydrate amount I would give to a very tall, large boned man or perhaps an active teen or young adult. I would never recommend that many carbohydrates for an average size man who was trying to lose weight; he would get 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and 15-30 grams for snacks. A women trying to lose weight would get 30-45 grams of carbohydrates per meal and 15 grams for snacks. 

Dr. Cabeca came up with the concept of combining an alkaline diet with a keto diet after weighing the benefits of very low-carb eating on one hand, with some of the negative feedback she was receiving from clients on the other. Although many of her clients experienced weight loss quickly and reliably while reducing their intake of carbs, many also reported dealing with side effects like nausea, fatigue and constipation due to the keto diet.
To see where you stand on the ketosis scale, you can test your ketone levels with a blood meter or with urine strips, the latter of which works similar to a pregnancy test and generally costs less than a dime a piece. Recent research shared in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, however, found that breath monitors (typically $200 to $300) provide the most accurate readings. Dozens of meters of all three formats are currently available on Amazon.
Good article. A friend at work is stating this diet and of course being new at it, he is quite the Zealot. I have been into nutrition and exercise for over 40 years (57 years old now). I have tried s few different eating philosophies (I never use the word the word diet. Negative connotation and dieting isn’t good the way most practice it.). Eating Keto style and the logic behind it aren’t too different than some others. And you pointed out many of the misconceptions about cholesterol and triglycerides ect. For about the last 20 plus years I have pretty much followed a “Zone” type diet. 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein. And I always get weird looks at the 30% fat part. Well, I’m 57 with 7% body fat. Not bad for and old guy. I work out and I supplement with protein as I lift weights. It’s worked well. The ratios may be different, but the emphasis on vegetable carbs and good fats are the key to either way to eat. There were only a couple things that kinda struck me as something that made me go hmmmmm. Using the Inuit people isn’t a good example really. They have evolved some different physical features over hundreds of years than we have. And there is no evidence if ketosis occurring in examination. And somehow when you mention eating large amounts of animal fat, just hit me as counterintuitive. It’s a much different fat than an avocado. Finally, and this is just me, I love fruit. True it’s probably less efficient, but its good, sweet, and beats the hell outta donuts for your health. It fulfills the reward need many of us have. I also feel if God put it on the earth naturally, it’s got a place in our food source. I’ve had a philosophy about excersise that’s served me well. What’s the best exercise? The one that you’ll do regularly. Get up and move and find out what works for your own body. It applies to good too. If you feel deprived or for various reasons can’t stay on the supposed best food program, what good is it? But if you stay with more natural and Balanced foods that usually leads to more energy then more and regular excerise. Check in. It looks like it’s been 2 years since you wrote this. I’d live to hear how your doing.
Type 2 diabetes is normally defined as a chronic and progressive condition resulting from the insufficient production of natural insulin, causing high blood sugar in many patients. Upon receiving an official diagnosis, most patients are told they will need to take medication for life and that there is no cure for diabetes. However, many scientists, clinicians and dieticians disagree with this prognosis, claiming that diets such as the ketogenic (keto) diet have the potential to support the reversal of Type 2 diabetes.
Circulating ketone bodies make the blood too acidic, which will draw calcium from the bones as a buffer response. While there are relatively few studies on long-term (more than 6 months) effects of a non-therapeutic keto diet, studies of children on the diet show high calcium levels in the blood, increased bone demineralization and increased risk of kidney stones.
A ketone body (KB) is a byproduct formed during the conversion of fatty acids to fuel. Some fatty acids are oxidized by the liver for energy production. Others can be partially oxidized to form the substrate acetoacetate, which is then converted to beta-hydroxybutyric acid; collectively, these are termed ketone bodies. Ketones can be used by all tissue containing mitochondria, which includes muscle and the brain.
Difficulty. Many experts question how long a person can realistically give up carbs. “This is a very restrictive diet that requires a drastic change in eating behaviors and even taste,” says Sandra Arevalo, MPH, RDN, CDE, a certified diabetes educator and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It isn’t very practical or easy to maintain, for people both with and without diabetes.” That’s not saying you can’t stick with it, but before you commit, make a plan and set measurable goals to help you stay on track. Being prepared with the right foods can also help. Urbanski recommends making a shopping list that focuses on a few basic keto-friendly meals and snacks, so you’ll always have the right foods on hand to ensure success.
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