By switching to a ketogenic low-carb diet, you are essentially transitioning yourself from a water-retaining diet, to a water-flushing diet. There are a variety of reasons for this, including reduction of inflammation (water tends to be bound up in inflammation) and the depletion of glycogen stores (glycogen retains water) in your liver and muscles.
Type 1 diabetes is not caused by insulin resistance, but it still makes sense to lower the need for insulin. Because type 1 diabetics hardly produce any insulin, they rely on external insulin when following a standard high-carb diet. Through carb restriction, a ketogenic diet decreases the need for insulin. In some type 1 diabetics, their insulin production is sufficient when following a ketogenic diet. Others still need to inject insulin, but much less than on a high-carb diet. Overall, it is much easier to control blood sugar levels with injected insulin on a ketogenic diet because blood glucose raises only mildly after meals.
Glucagon is on the other side of the spectrum; it is insulin's antagonistic hormone. Glucagon is also secreted by the pancreas when glucose levels fall too low. This usually happens when a person skips meals, or does not consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates for an extended period of time. When this happens, glucagon is secreted by the pancreas to break down stored glycogen in the liver into a more usable form, glucose.
Ketoacidosis occurs mainly in people with type 1 diabetes if they do not take insulin. In diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), blood sugar and ketones rise to dangerous levels, which disrupts the blood’s delicate acid-base balance. People in ketoacidosis feel extremely ill and experience profound dehydration, vomiting, abdominal pain, and weakness. DKA requires hospitalization so that IV fluids and insulin can be given to gradually and safely lower blood sugar.
An article published in the New York Times in 2018 explores the use of a keto diet and diabetes type 1. The article points out how many diabetes experts will not recommend low-carb diets for type 1 diabetics, especially if they are children, due to concerns over hypoglycemia as a result of carb restriction and the possibility of this having a negative effect on a child’s growth.
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]
“Rapid, significant weight loss is a common side effect of the keto diet because of the water losses that occur as carbohydrate stores are depleted,” says Clark. In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, obese men following a modified version of the ketogenic diet, with high protein and low carbs, lost about 14 pounds in one month, compared with the control group, which lost about 10 pounds on a high-protein, medium-carb diet.
A ketogenic diet also has been shown to improve blood sugar control for patients with type 2 diabetes, at least in the short term. There is even more controversy when we consider the effect on cholesterol levels. A few studies show some patients have increase in cholesterol levels in the beginning, only to see cholesterol fall a few months later. However, there is no long-term research analyzing its effects over time on diabetes and high cholesterol.
That doesn’t mean keto causes diabetes; it’s amazing for most diabetics. However, if your cells are great at processing fat, but suck at processing glucose or carbohydrates, you won’t be able to run at full power, and parts of your body that prefer glucose over fat — like the glial cells in your brain that handle immune function and synaptic pruning — don’t work as well over time.
It may seem unusual that a diet filled with fats could be a positive for your heart, but that’s exactly what Dr. Phinney suggests. “In the one-year study, 22 of 26 cardiovascular risk factors significantly improved. Most notably, these patients experienced a mean fasting triglyceride reduction of 24 percent, an 18 percent increase in good HDL cholesterol, and significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.” For all of these findings, Dr. Phinney notes that research into the benefits of keto is still in its earliest stages. “The fact is, there is not yet any long-term, peer-reviewed data that connects some of these improvements to nutritional ketosis,” he says. Read more about the 11 hidden dangers of the keto diet.
Increases in cholesterol levels need discussion too. We do see temporary increases in cholesterol levels often as individuals transition onto a ketogenic diet. However, when you examine lipid particle size (a more important way to look at the cardiovascular risks), the risk pattern doesn’t seem to increase with a ketogenic diet. Harvard Health has written about lipid particle size here before: http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/should-you-seek-advanced-cholesterol-testing-
So yes, the ketogenic diet is safe for diabetics. However, they still need to be closely monitored because diabetes medications including insulin, blood pressure, and beta blockers will have to be adjusted down when following a ketogenic diet. Therefore, the diabetic should do this with supervision from a doctor who is up to date with the nutritional literature.
The ketogenic diet is usually something that’s prescribed by a registered dietitian. For example, Jessica Lowe, a Keck School of Medicine of USC ketogenic dietitian, said she might prescribe it to a patient who has epilepsy, since there’s research that shows it can help control seizures. There’s also growing interest in whether high-fat diets could help with brain injuries or neurodegenerative diseases, Lowe said. For the everyday dieter, Lowe said, it’s important to consult a registered dietitian.
Here’s another controversial yet promising area of study: Research suggests that when patients with diabetes take on a low-carb diet (like keto), they experience improvements in insulin sensitivity by up to 75 percent, as well as a reduction in blood sugar control medications. What we aren’t sure of, however, is whether these improvements are due specifically to the effects of ketosis or to weight loss in general, so similar results could theoretically be found with any successful diet.
Your body uses the carbohydrates you eat for energy, so if we restrict how many carbohydrates we eat, the body has to get its fuel source from fat. A byproduct of this fat burning state are ketones which are produced; this is called nutritional ketosis. You can determine if you are in this fat burning state by purchasing urine ketone testing strips from your local pharmacy.
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Thanks Dr. Jockers…very informative article. Im into pure keto diet almost a week now but started illiminating sugar and carbs 3weeks ago and the side effects that i’ve encountered are frequently urinating and light headache only. Is it good or not? I’ve never consult a specialist before doing keto diet but i do my research, is it okay? As of now i’ve loose almost 11lbs. Im just curious how can i get the percentage of fats, protein etc in my meals? Do i need to measure it all? How can i measure the percentage of foods that i need to eat?is there any ways?
Another small but very important benefit of the ketogenic diet is that when in the state of ketosis, ketones, along with a high protein intake, seem to suppress appetite. A high-carbohydrate diet, on the other hand, increases hunger levels. Because you have to consume a lot of fat on a ketogenic diet, which hold 9 calories per gram, you are not getting much food volume. It's not mandatory to be hungry on a reduced-calorie diet.
There are different types of ketogenic diets that you may choose from depending on your specific needs. Dr. Mercola usually recommends the standard ketogenic diet (SKD) for most people. It’s highly effective and involves allotting around 70 percent of your diet to healthy fats, 25 percent to high-quality protein and only 5 percent to carbohydrates.
Our body needs some time to get used to ketones being elevated in the blood stream to begin using them effectively and efficiently for cellular energy. By consuming an exogenous ketone supplement, you get the body adapted to ketones faster and using them as an energy source before the body has built the metabolic machinery to produce its own ketones effectively.
This is a condition typically seen in type-1 diabetics, where ketones and blood sugar levels are both dangerously high (ketone levels at 20+ mM). The key factor in the development of ketoacidosis is a lack of insulin. The cells cannot shuttle in glucose from the bloodstream for energy use and the body has no signal to stop releasing fats (which are converted into ketones).15 Those who have even a small amount of insulin secretion or signaling do not often reach this metabolic state.
While a ketogenic diet helps normalize blood sugar (glucose) levels and can help you maintain or reach a healthy weight, an alkaline diet is beneficial for its anti-aging effects— especially lowering inflammation, boosting detoxification, and promoting hormonal balance, immunity and more. Traditional ketogenic diets usually miss the important factor of restoring alkalinity. For many patients the key is to reach an alkaline pH first before beginning keto in order to prevent feeling agitated, anxious, uncomfortable or overly hungry.
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that affects the nervous system, and some people believe that a ketogenic diet may slow the progression of the disease or control its symptoms. The ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, and high in fat. There is currently not enough evidence to recommend it for everyone with multiple sclerosis.
Low carb, high fat diets have been used for centuries by doctors when working with obese patients. William Banting published the widely popular booklet titled ‘Letter on Corpulence Addressed to the Public’ in 1863. In this booklet he explained how he had slimmed down by eating a diet high in fat void of carbs. The Banting diet was used for decades by individuals looking to lose weight.
Since carbohydrates do increase insulin and insulin is a storage hormone many people have made large leaps of logic to point the finger at carbohydrates as the primary cause of fat gain and obesity as opposed to overall caloric intake. They also point out that in a keto diet, carbohydrates are not being used as fuel hardly at all whereas fats become the primary fuel.
"Most of the work in this field is still pre-clinical, meaning it's been conducted in animal models," Angela Poff, a research associate in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida, told U.S. News & World Report. "It's been done in various cancer types, but most of the work has been done in brain cancer specifically. But there's very little clinical data all around. There's some case reports and very small preliminary clinical studies in small groups of patients, usually very late-stage patients with various types of cancers. So in the clinical realm, which is the most important in telling us whether this is going to be useful, we have a long way to go."
To say that the keto diet has become one of the most popular diets of recent years is a complete understatement. Case in point: There are more than one million searches on Google every month for the keto diet. It’s unique because the fad diet has captured the interest of people who want to lose weight — and there’s no shortage of reported success stories to be found.
I’ve been type 2 for about 15 years was pretty stable with diet and Metformin for 10 years. But eventually started trying more aggressive treatment like Victoza and without fail in 4 years I was on slow acting insulin. I lost weight lowered carb intake to 40mg or less in the morning my breakfast has been no carbs. People need to realize every diabetic is different you must manage it how it keeps you with good A1C levels. I myself got off insulin for a year and half but my fasting levels slowly increased again. Reversing diabetes is not possible. Reducing the effects is possible and more likely the better you monitor yourself and do what you need to do. Depending on medications or diets or counting carbs will all help but not cure the diabetes. These all are things that reduce its ability to affect your health negatively.
If you’re wondering about the difference between ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis, you’re not alone. “The word ketone is scary for most people with type 1 diabetes because they relate ketones to diabetic ketoacidosis,” says Patti Urbanski, MEd, RD, CDE, a certified diabetes educator with St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. “But with the ketogenic diet, we’re talking about a much lower level of ketones.”
It’s only dangerous to not get enough carbs at each meal if one is taking too much meds or insulin for the amount of carbs they are eating! Restricting carbohydrates doesn’t lead to hypoglycemia unawareness, but having lots of lows and lots of highs will (and decreasing insulin and carbs leads to way fewer highs and fewer lows, or at least it can). On the other hand, being in ketosis does make low blood sugars less negative as an experience. I still feel my lows just fine, but they are less of an emergency because my brain still works (feeding on ketones) and by body doesn’t freak out and release tons of adrenaline that then makes me want to eat a house. Mind you, I still wake up and know immediately if I’m low, I know from experience and how it feels in my head and body but without the crazy shakes. This is not unawareness but it is less reactive.
Glucose is stored in your liver and released as needed for energy. However, after carb intake has been extremely low for one to two days, these glucose stores become depleted. Your liver can make some glucose from amino acids in the protein you eat via a process known as gluconeogenesis, but not nearly enough to meet the needs of your brain, which requires a constant fuel supply.