The bottom line? If you’re thinking about trying the ketogenic diet, run it by your doctor first — regardless of any preexisting health conditions. And consult a registered dietitian nutritionist (find one at EatRight.org) to find a nutrition professional who can work with you to create a meal plan you can stick to. People with kidney disease or a history of disordered eating should avoid the diet, and people with type 1 diabetes may want to avoid it, as well. If you have risk factors for heart disease, you’ll want to speak with your doctor before considering the diet.
In a second study,2 a Harvard-led research team evaluated the benefit of a ketogenic diet in both children and adults with type 1 diabetes despite concerns about a possible negative effect on growth and development in children following such a restricted diet. These researchers report "exceptional" glucose control with little adverse effects. However, the participants were recruited from a closed Facebook group, TypeOneGrit, for people who follow a diet and diabetes program based on the recommendations in the Diabetes Solution,3 a book by Richard K Bernstein, MD, who devised this program to manage his own type 1 diabetes.
Earlier in this article, I briefly mentioned how consuming too much sugar can impair brain function and cause plaque build up in the brain. Many studies on Alzheimer’s disease patients agree with the biochemistry as well. In fact, A group of scientists reviewed the literature and concluded that “high carbohydrate intake worsens cognitive performance and behavior in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.” This means that eating more carbohydrates cause more problems in the brain. Will the opposite (eating fewer carbs) improve brain function?
Fat accumulation in the liver is commonly associated with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. In serious cases, fatty liver disease can damage the liver. Doctors test for the condition by measuring levels of liver enzymes using blood tests. “These enzymes were significantly reduced after one year in the clinical patients, indicating less risk of developing fatty liver disease,” Dr. Phinney says of the diabetes study. If you’ve been told you’re at risk for fatty liver, you may want to give this diet plan a try. Before you embark on any new eating plan, arm yourself with knowledge. You’ll want to read this: 11 hidden dangers of the keto diet.
In a survey of both children and adults, researchers found that a very low carbohydrate diet promotes “exceptional glycemic control” in those with type 1 diabetes mellitus. When it comes to type 2 diabetes, the Journal of American Medical Association recently published a review examining the effective use of the ketogenic diet in those with type 2 diabetes.
Some of us experience a rise in BG that’s hard to manage when trying Keto. This is one of the reasons why keto did not work out for me (plus weight gain and feeling lousy). That being said, there could be a lot of other reasons why he’s running high, so I’d highly recommend you work with a medical professional and dietitian if you decide to continue down this path. And if your doctor isn’t supporting you, find one that will.
The comments defending the keto diet suggest that the individuals are successfully using the keto diet to help them maintain a healthy weight and a healthier A1C level. The individuals also suggest that they view it as a way of life rather than a diet. This is good news for many of us who are facing the question of whether it will be helpful and necessary to reduce carbohydrate intake to keto producing levels in order to halt or reverse the onset of type II diabetes. I think like those individuals, Tami is speaking from her own personal experience where she had success losing weight, but had difficulty maintaining the keto diet long-term. I am sure that though you have been successful, you can understand that there are many who might find it difficult to maintain. I too have been given very bad guidance by Medical Doctors who lean on old Med School information to practice medicine rather than continuing to broaden their knowledge base and learn more about nutrition. I cannot get back the 20+ years of suffering with a debilitating disease that could have been cured because my doctors were not well informed or willing to listen to information that disagreed with their limited knowledge base. Those years are gone and the destruction to my body is not reversible. So I understand the anger you feel toward a system that isn’t working in the best interest of the patient. But I think that expressing anger toward those who disagree with our personal experience, is not solving the problem. Hopefully we can change the ADA guidelines by respectfully urging them to reconsider their position based on the sheer volume of the comments they receive from successful people like you, who are living the keto diet lifestyle and living better. I commend you for becoming your own best health advocates. Thanks for your encouragement and your passion. And thanks to Tami as well for sharing her personal experience and the information she had collected. We all have to be true to what we believe and we all have a right to come to our own conclusions. It is good to know that there are success stories out there. I wish you all good health and continued success. I also hope that one day medical training will do a much better job of preparing doctors to become their patient’s best advocates, actively learning and searching for cures rather than treating symptoms in ways that cause even more disease to develop. The system is failing so many of us.
I won’t comment on the diet itself but dietitians do not simply rely on guidelines handed to them, nor on anecdotal cases. This article refers to specific studies all throughout, some that support the diet and others that don’t. The goal of a dietitian is to help clients reach their optimal health while still enjoying a high quality of life. I’m sure Abbey is genuinely happy for those it has helped. That does not mean this diet is best for everyone regardless of their unique circumstances, goals and medical history. Sadly there is not enough high quality research that Keto promotes sustained weight loss in the general population. Maybe there will be in the near future, but right now it would be unethical to recommend such a restrictive diet to the broad audience of a blog. I am truly happy it has worked for some people and I wish them luck on their journey. Thank you Abbey for a great article!
2. Raygan, F., Bahmani, F., Kouchaki, E., Aghadavod, E., Sharifi, S., Akbari, E., . . . Asemi, Z. (2016). Comparative effects of carbohydrate versus fat restriction on metabolic profiles, biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight patients with Type 2 diabetic and coronary heart disease: A randomized clinical trial. PMID: 28607566
When the body is first deprived of carbohydrates, usually felt at around 50 grams per day or less, the body starts with gluconeogenesis which is the body using stored glucose (glycogen) from the liver and muscles for energy. When the stored glucose can no longer keep up with energy demands, which will happen because there’s limited storage of glucose, the body turns to using ketone bodies for energy.
I’ve been eating LCHF for almost a year. I’ve lost 40 lbs, feel hungry less often, reversed my insulin resistance, have lots more energy but my cholesterol keeps jumping up, not just creeping, but taking huge leaps! It’s in the mid 300’s now and my Dr wants me to go on statin drugs of which I’m very resistant, I don’t feel comfortable taking drugs. I read so often how this diet lowers cholesterol, not me! Any clue as to “why me?”
Missing Nutrients. One of the biggest concerns for dietitians is the keto diet’s lack of key foods. Many question the eating plan’s impact on the development of certain chronic diseases. Without milk, for example, getting enough calcium and vitamin D for sturdy bones becomes a challenge. Take away whole grains, fruit, beans, and potatoes, and it’s nearly impossible to consume enough potassium for healthy blood pressure or enough fiber to stay regular. And unless you’re eating lots of low-carb, leafy green vegetables, you miss out on vitamins A, C, K, and folate, too.
Yancy has seen similar results in his practice. “Carbohydrate intake is the main driver of blood sugar. So if you’re able to lower blood sugar by reducing carbohydrate intake, then you may be able to reduce diabetes medication,” he says. “We’ve seen people come off of hundreds of units of insulin just by changing the way they eat, and that can happen really quickly, in just a few weeks.”
One way to find out if the keto diet is not be ideal for your cardiovascular health is by checking if your total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio is above 4 and/or your LDL-P remains high or increases after starting the keto diet. If this is the case for you, then you may fare better with a low to moderate fat diet with plenty of whole foods, fiber, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats (especially omega 3s), and limited saturated fats.
“With the start of the keto diet, the body switches from using sugar as a source of energy to using the body’s stored fat,” Rahnama explained. “In the process of breaking down fat, the body produces ketones, which are then removed by the body through frequent and increased urination. This may lead to dehydration and flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, dizziness, irritability, nausea, and muscle soreness.”
thank you Dr. Jockers for the informative article. I have hypothyroidism from 3 parathyroid cysts being removed along with 80% of my thyroid. It is under control with Levothyroxine and liathyronine. I have been on the keto diet for almost 4 weeks and am still experiencing heart palpatations, dizzyness and low energy. I have been quite strict and feel disappointed. I have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and my oncologist was ok with me going on it. I feel like this diet would help me have more energy and help my overall health. Any advise would be appreciated. thank you, Inika
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.”