Based on what we know from the available research, is the keto diet safe? The evidence is clear that the KD can reliably help to treat obesity and improve insulin resistance, but the long-term impact of the KD on cardiovascular risk factors, liver disease and glucose tolerance is more controversial. Experts agree that genetics seem to play a role in how different people respond to the KD, meaning some may be more likely to thrive on very low-carb diets, while others are more susceptible to developing side effects.
And it’s not just this study, either. Several other studies have found that keto leaves rodents unable to process carbs, leads to insulin resistance, and, more long-term, causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is when your liver accumulates lots of fat and begins to shut down. Triglycerides and inflammation go way up, too.
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“If someone with diabetes is [taking insulin or oral type 2 meds in the sulfonylurea or meglitinide class and is] following this diet, they need to know that their blood sugar can drop really quickly, so it’s critical that they check it more frequently,” says Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, CDE, author of Diabetes Meal Planning & Nutrition for Dummies. “Don’t wait for it to happen. Meet with your doctor or diabetes educator in advance so that you can troubleshoot exactly what to do if your blood sugar drops.” If it’s an infrequent occurrence, you may be advised to treat with fast-acting glucose. But frequent lows may require medication adjustments or the addition of more carbs to your eating plan.
Regarding keto diets specifically, studies have proven this method to be more effective than moderate protein diets in lowering blood glucose, promoting weight loss and lowering HbA1c in patients with Type 2 diabetes. A growing number of clinicians now agree that low-carb diets can effectively treat this disease. The fact remains: these diets remain controversial and contradict dietary guidelines, so they are not very often discussed or recommended in the clinical setting.
For people with Type 1 Diabetes, you probably have heard of their diabetic emergency, diabetic ketoacidosis, also referred to as DKA. This can be life threatening condition for people with Type 1 diabetes and Certified Diabetes Educators spend many hours teaching preventive care for DKA. This condition should not be confused with nutritional ketosis, the fat burning state reached when following the Ketogenic diet. The two conditions are quite different.
On keto, I’ve adjusted my basal rates and I barely need to bolus at all. My blood glucose numbers have definitely improved and what I find really extraordinary is that I’m needing about 60% less total daily insulin, than I did before starting keto. What’s even more fascinating to me is seeing a steady straight line across my pump for 6, 12, and even 24 hours – no crazy spikes or dips in my blood sugar.
Participants completed take-home food records (4 consecutive days, including a weekend) collected at baseline and at weeks 2, 8, and 16 during the study. Participants were given handouts with examples of how to complete the records. A registered dietician analyzed the food records using a nutrition software program (Food Processor SQL, ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, OR).
The benefits of a ketogenic diet have been well documented for those living with Type 2 diabetes. Not only does the diet help manage blood sugar but it promotes weight loss as well. The results for those living with Type 1 are less conclusive. Many studies tend to address low carb diets like paleo and Atkins, which focus more on types of low carb food to eat, unlike a keto diet, which pays close attention to macronutrients and staying in ketosis. There seem to be fewer studies exploring the latter, but there is observational information that seems to indicate the diet offers a way to manage A1C levels and glycemic control. Many people with diabetes who abide by the keto diet have found that they significantly reduce their use of insulin.
I am confused by this statement, as there are many wonderful “white” substitutions that taste great, and don’t make me feel like i am missing out. One of the things I thought I was just going to die if I couldn’t ever have it again, was waffles with peanut butter & maple syrup. Guess what….there is a sub for that! I am T2D, and my doctor, who specializes in diabetes, told me to stop eating sugar, carbs and she said that in a perfect world, I would stop eating fruit, as it contains sugar. That’s when I found Keto, on my own. I’ve been on it for a little over a month or so, and have lost 12lbs, but more importantly, BS levels that were averaging in the 200’s are now lower than the 90’s, consistently… The highest number I’ve tested was 97, after I ate dinner & had a satisfying bowl of Keto ice cream. I’ve been diagnosed Diabetic for approx 4yrs, but am certain I was diabetic for probably 3 yrs prior to that. I’m not over weight, and did not have the hope of “losing weight and getting off meds”. This has been my answer, and I truly think that if we did live in a perfect world, more things like this would be taught to those of us who need better choices than medications. There are so many other things in the world that are suppressed due to greed of Big Pharma & Government. Let’s start helping our fellow man be healthy & heal….
Financial disclosures: There were no conflicts of interest reported except for Dr Bernstein who has received royalties for books on the management of diabetes (which were used by members of the online social media group surveyed in this study). Dr. Hallberg who holds stock options and receives research support from Virta Health, and consulting fees from Atkins. Dr. Rhodes is the site principal investigator in clinical trials for pediatric type 2 diabetes that are sponsored by Merck and AstraZeneca. Dr. Westman has an ownership interest in companies using low-carbohydrate principles, and he receives royalties for books related to low-carbohydrate diets. Dr. Ludwig has received royalties from books on nutrition and obesity; and Dr. Galati is author of Eating Yourself Sick: How to stop obesity, fatty liver, and diabetes from killing you and your family (2018).
The side effects of extreme low-carb diets are still a mystery. "The first major drawback is the fact that we really don't have any long-term research about how keto followers fare 10, 20, 30 years down the line," Turoff says. "What will the results look like? Will they regain the weight? Will they suffer health consequences? We also thought smoking and diet pills were a good idea, until long-term studies showed us that we were wrong."
This type of information has also been on the Internet. When I first saw what the consequences could be if this is planned by the person following the Keto diet as being for a lifetime thing, I immediately sent the article to my brother & his wife . They’ve been on this for some time & have lost weight on it. All good, but may not be well for my brother, who has one kidney. It was removed because it was no longer functioning at full capacity.
That makes a lot of sense. Keeping up insulin pathways when you aren’t eating carbs would be like keeping the lights on when it’s daytime outside — it’s a waste of energy. You aren’t using insulin on keto, so your body probably downregulates your insulin pathways. As a refresher, insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that tells your cells to absorb glucose to use as fuel. When you eat carbs, insulin production begins. In the absence of carbs, there’s less need for insulin.
“Certainly, the quality of fat counts,” says Yawitz. “There’s a big difference nutritionally between bacon and almonds. As much as possible, people set on the keto diet should emphasize plant-based, unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado, which have even been shown to protect the heart.” If you have high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease, you should speak with your doctor before beginning the keto diet. This is because the diet may — but doesn't have to — include large amounts of saturated fat. Some studies have shown increases in cholesterol and triglycerides in people following the diet, while other research reveals that the keto diet may actually decrease heart disease risk as well as saturated fat intake.
The main role of the gallbladder is to store bile (which is made in the liver), and in turn, the role of bile is to digest fat. People assume eating a lot of fat is somehow linked to an increased risk of gallstones, which are solid deposits of cholesterol and bile that can form in the gallbladder. But most of the cholesterol in the bloodstream is made inside the body (as part of a tightly regulated process inside the liver), not derived from the diet.
Eating a keto diet can have some short-term health perks. But in the long run, it also has the potential to create some serious health problems. That’s why many experts say you shouldn’t attempt it on your own. “In general, if a person follows a ketogenic diet, they should only do so for a brief time and under close medical supervision,” says Hultin.
More and more studies show that low-carb diets are an effective way to lose weight: A 2018 report out of Framingham State University found that after five months on a low-carb, high-fat diet, overweight adults burned about 250 more calories daily than people who ate a high-carb, low-fat diet. The keto diet in particular has a number of famous adherents, including Halle Berry, Katie Couric and Gwyneth Paltrow. Kourtney Kardashian blogged about doing keto, calling it “a really positive experience.” And keto-friendly recipes, snacks and meal plans have proliferated in the past few years.
I take thyroxine 150mgs for my underactive thyroid issue. My dose does need to be adjusted regularly. I have gradually put weight on despite eating healthily & generally avoiding fats, because of a raised Cholesterol level. I can’t take Statins either because it causes muscle problem! All in all I am at a loss. I really want to lose my excess weight (28pounds). I have started the keto diet now & it’s a way of eating totally alien to me! I’m eating foods I never eat! I’m only a week in & am having dizzy episodes but am taking the steps to stop these but now I have read that having thyroid issues I should not pursue it. I’m really devastated. Can I get around this?
The good news is, it is not necessary to stay on a ketogenic diet at all times to reap this benefit. Our ancestors went through fast and feast cycles and the body is designed for flexibility. We may be able to reduce cancer risk, prolong life, improve brain function, and benefit from ketosis otherwise by being in ketosis or fasting a few days a week.
If you’re wondering why iron is at risk on a meat-based diet, hear me out. Many grain foods provide a considerable amount of iron, because wholegrains naturally contain iron in their inner layer called the ‘germ’. Another reason is that some grain products can have iron added to them during manufacturing. So, once you cut grains out, your iron status could suffer, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms like tiredness and lethargy. It can even compromise your immune system.