Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is dangerous. But it’s usually limited to people with type 1 diabetes, striking when their glucose levels rise due to illness or a missed insulin dose. Without insulin, cells can’t take in glucose, so they burn fat for fuel instead, producing exceptionally high ketone levels—much higher than the amount generated by the keto diet. That, in combination with high blood glucose levels, essentially poisons the blood. “It’s very easy to tell the difference between nutritional ketosis, which has no negative symptoms [aside from ‘keto breath,’ which can smell like nail polish remover], and dietary ketoacidosis, which is an illness that requires hospitalization and causes lethargy, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, and lack of appetite,” says William Yancy, MD, program director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Healthy fats are crucial on a ketogenic diet, but people who have been following the official dietary advice don’t know what healthy fats are. In short: all natural fats that you find in fish, meat, nuts, olives, coconut, and full-fat raw dairy products are healthy for diabetics. On the other hand, oxidized seed oils and the trans fats in margarine should be avoided. Learn more about good fats vs bad fats here.
And while some fats can be healthy, there’s a risk that in following a high-fat diet, you’ll increase your intake of unhealthy trans and saturated fats. These “bad” fats are found in things like red meat, poultry skin, cheese, and butter, and can lead to an increase in LDL, or “bad” cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease. (14) This is a controversial issue, as some experts do recommend adopting a low-carbohydrate diet to lower heart disease risk. If you’re at risk or have heart disease, it’s important to speak with your doctor first about your health needs.
Keto diets, like most low carb diets, work through the elimination of glucose. Because most folks live on a high carb diet, our bodies normally run on glucose (or sugar) for energy. We cannot make glucose and only have about 24 hours’ worth stored in our muscle tissue and liver. Once glucose is no longer available from food sources, we begin to burn stored fat instead, or fat from our food.
Hi Eric, nice to see you. Some do well on whey instead of protein powders. They do have carbs so be careful. I have learned every little change helps and no beating up allowed. Every improvement helps. It takes 2 weeks to get sugars out of the body. Then cravings will be gone. Good foods also lessen the craving. Apples are great, lol. Good health to you.
A related clinical diet for drug-resistant epilepsy is called the medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, in which MCT oil is extensively used because it’s more ketogenic than long-chain triglycerides. (13) Another dietary therapy for epilepsy called Low Glycemic Index Treatment (LGIT) was developed in 2002 as an alternative to the keto diet. LGIT monitors the total amount of carbohydrates consumed daily, and focuses on carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index.) (14)
She adds that the research supports the safety and effectiveness of following a keto diet even in older adults with obesity as it seems to help improve body composition and improve metabolic health.6 “We saw significant reduction in body fat while lean mass was preserved and significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and the lipid profile in response to a ketogenic diet when compared to a standard ‘balanced’ diet,” Dr. Goss explains.
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Diarrhea can also be due to a lack of fiber in the diet, says Kizer, which can happen when someone cuts way back on carbs (like whole-grain bread and pasta) and doesn’t supplement with other fiber-rich foods, like vegetables. It can also be caused by an intolerance to dairy or artificial sweeteners—things you might be eating more of since switching to a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle.
Dr. Campos, it is unfortunate that you retain the medical community’s negative stance on the ketogenic diet, probably picked up in medical school when you studied ketoacidosis, in the midst of an obesity and type II diabetes epidemic that is growing every year, especially among populations who will never see the Harvard Health Letter. The medical community has failed in reversing this trend, especially among children, and the public is picking up the tab, in the form of higher health insurance premiums to treat chronic metabolic diseases which doctors cannot cure. The ketogenic diet does not bid its adherents to eat unhealthy processed meats, and the green leafy vegetables that it emphasizes are important in a number of nutritional deficiencies. People lose weight on the ketogenic diet, they lose their craving for sugar, they feel more satiety, they may become less depressed, their insulin receptors sensitivity is improved, and these are all the good outcomes you fail to mention. There is a growing body of research which demonstrates the neuroprotective effects of the ketogenic diet to slow cancer progression, as well as diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for which there are no effective medical treatments. Please respect your patients by providing them with evidence-based medical outcomes, not opinions.
The same is true for meat. You’ve probably been told to avoid red meat when in fact you should not. Meat is an integral part of any diet including the ketogenic diet. There is no reason to avoid it (OK you’re excused if you’ve been bitten by a lone star tick!). The ketogenic diet reduces cardiovascular risk factors and improves the lipid profile by increasing HDL and lowering triglycerides [9,10].
He also told me that I was in horrible shape, that I would need a lot of medication, and that because I was T2, insulin would do nothing for me. I still remember walking out of the building after. I felt like shooting myself. My brother had just gone blind from retinopathy 2 months earlier. There was no hope for me. High numbers were inevitable. Complications were inevitable.
“I’m no longer on insulin, and I have cut down my medications due to keto. I never had to deal with trying to find a spot to inject or having to deal with bruises on my belly,” she says. “I know this may sound silly, but I have a picture of my old insulin syringes in my wallet. I look at it to remind me of what I had to do before keto. It grounds me, and when I have days of self-doubt, I remind myself how far I’ve come.”
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We have all heard of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and essential amino acids (EAAs), but have you ever heard of essential carbohydrates? No. The human body is capable of burning fat for fuel. If the body can burn fat for fuel, why would you ingest a substance (carbohydrate) that raises your blood sugar, raises your insulin levels, and makes you sick? Why would the ADA advocate the very diet that made us sick in the first place? When are they going to admit they’ve been wrong and start doing what is in the best interest of diabetics?
I’m in ketogenesis now – 3 weeks in. Lost over 10kg. Protein shakes. Great. But what I wanted to add was that i’m Diabetic (2) and quite badly so. I was Injecting insulin twice a day – Novomix (part immediate, part slow acting). But since I went into keto, my blood sugar has been steady between 5-9, normal range. No injections needed. And no hypo attacks either – that occurs below a reading of 4, for me. This is NOT a cure of course – it’s directly related to low carb intake. But I do wonder if discontinuing insulin is partly responsible for my improvement in alertness, activity level and so on. Magnesium tabs, 1000 units twice a day, have also been helpful – I suffer leg and foot cramps due to spinal arthritis – but they had worsened until I upped the dose.
Also, be aware that, while diet can be an extremely powerful tool to regain control over many aspects of health, diet by itself remains insufficient for full health. Just as filling up the gas tank of your car with quality gasoline helps your car run well, but other aspects of your car need attention over time (change the oil, tune-ups, new tires on occasion, etc.), so it goes with diet. We must also pay attention to vitamin D and iodine status, the potential for common endocrine disruptions such as thyroid dysfunction, efforts to cultivate bowel flora, and other issues. Focus on diet as a start, not as an end.
Carbs turn into glucose (aka sugar) in the body. Eating too many carbs causes your blood sugar to spike. When you switch from carbs to fat for energy, you stabilize your blood sugar. Keto can be particularly beneficial for diabetics, who have high blood glucose levels. The keto diet may even cure diabetes — many diabetics are able to come off their medication when switching to keto. Find out more about keto and blood sugar here.
As for individuals with type 2 diabetes, Dr. Galati says, "a very low carbohydrate diet could be tolerated, albeit with extreme caution. Transitioning to a ketogenic diet will require several lifestyle changes as well as careful monitoring of both your food intake and glucose levels and adjustments to your medications. Also, you should increase your water consumption."
But there is evidence that low-carb diets may increase metabolism, according to a paper published November 14 in BMJ. Researchers found that overweight adults who lowered carbohydrates and added more fat into their diets burned about 250 calories more each day than people on high-carb, low-fat diets. The study is impressive because it's the largest, most expensive, and controlled study of its kind.
Also, diabetics should not undertake the diet without medical supervision. “Trying a ketogenic diet has the power to drastically and quickly lower blood glucose levels,” says Santos-Prowse. “If a person with diabetes is taking blood glucose-lowering medications, their doctor needs to be on board to help with adjusting or stopping the medications as needed.”
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 researchers hypothesized that the positive effects that the ketogenic diet has on migraines are due to how ketone bodies inhibit neural inflammation and enhance brain mitochondrial metabolism. The ketone bodies do this by blocking high concentrations of glutamate (commonly found in both migraine and epilepsy sufferers) and reducing oxidative stress.
Type 1 diabetics, for now, nearly always need some insulin. How much they need and how effective the exogenous insulin is at controlling their blood sugars largely depends on how well they followed a well-formulated low-carb or ketogenic diet. What it comes down to is that the diet allows you to deal with the easier task: covering your basal insulin needs. Off the diet, people are faced with the harder task: covering basal insulin needs + those arising from carby foods.
While many health care providers aren’t comfortable recommending the keto diet for people with diabetes, there’s a substantial body of research indicating that it can help with weight loss, reduce the need for medication, and even lower A1C into the non-diabetes range. It’s so effective that when researchers assigned 349 volunteers with type 2 diabetes to follow either a keto diet or a traditional diabetes eating plan (the makeup of that plan wasn’t defined in the study) for one year, they observed some powerful results. While the people on the “diabetes diet” didn’t experience any positive movement in their A1C, body weight, or medication requirements, those on the keto plan reduced their A1C from 7.6 to 6.3 percent, shed 12 percent of their body weight, eliminated their need for sulfonylurea medication, and lowered or reduced their need for insulin by 94 percent. The results were published in 2018 in the journal Diabetes Therapy.
Early humans probably were on an LCHF diet. But when did humans become the “intelligent” species that they are? Can that be related to invention of agriculture? When humans began settling down on river banks to grow their crop, be it rice or wheat or maize, may be the rich alluvium, elevated mineral contents and higher glucose levels associated with grains might have given them increased brain activity leading to their cultural and intellectual development. My only worry is, this”new found” ketogenic diet shouldn’t push us back to stone age, though on a positive note, that might save our planet from anthropogenic destruction!