Ketogenic diet for diabetics is a highly controversial topic, but we will break down everything here for you! As a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), I have to tell you from the start I will have a biased view here. Sorry, but I feel that I need to be completely honest right up front! I will however, present all the evidence that is available currently on the subject.
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.
Thank you for this info. I will be copying the link to send to some folks ready to jump on this new trend. In fact I had a resident (I am a CDM) come in to our re-hab facility in pretty bad shape. He was unable to speak with me so I spoke with his wife. The man had come in after having a TIA. He was a diabetic, as well. The wife told me that she had her husband 9and herself) on a keto diet. When she saw the size my eyes got for some reason she got angry and very defensive and screamed “Forget everything you have been taught. It is all crap”. I understand when folks are worried abut their loved ones they can get pretty emotional. I asked my standard question about chew/swallowing, UBW and food allergies and quickly left. I spoke with the RD (a CDE) about what had happened. She tried to speak with the resident and his wife and got the same treatment. The RD said to me “He will have another stroke in a week”. He had one in 3 days. Unfortunately with this stroke, he got anew diagnosis of severe dysphagia. SLP tried and tried but he would aspirate on everything. He had to be pegged. He was brought back to the facility. The wife was taught how to feed him through the tube. He left the facility and passed quietly about 3 weeks later. I reached out to the wife on his second stay and we became fairly close. She said she thought she was doing the best thing for him because he was over weight. I get it. She only wanted a healthy husband. She apologized for being so quick when we met. I thanked her for actually educating me on this diet. I was not aware there was such a thing.
Most anyone who has struggled with keto side effects or just hasn’t felt good on a ketogenic diet stands to benefit greatly from exogenous ketones during the adaption phase and beyond. Additionally, for people who have poor liver or gallbladder function, have poor mitochondrial health, or have never tried a ketogenic diet; the process of producing ketones can be stressful.
The keto diet may also be beneficial for adults with epilepsy, though the Epilepsy Foundation notes that it’s less frequently recommended for this group because it is so restrictive and difficult to stick with. (1) One study, published in May 2016 in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, found the diet reduced the frequency of seizures for many study participants, 7 percent of whom were seizure-free at the four-year mark. (2) And though it wasn’t the goal for this study, nearly 20 percent of the participants lost weight while following the diet.
Keto flu is a real thing. Cutting your carbs to the bone and going into a state of ketosis (where your body burns fat for energy) can bring on a cluster of uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. The side effects are the result of your body transitioning to using fat as its primary source of energy instead of carbs, explains Kristen Mancinelli, MS, RDN, author of The Ketogenic Diet. Once it adapts to the new fuel source (usually within a week or two), you’ll start to feel better.
We all already know that the more sensible, healthful way to diet all comes down to doing something that’s sustainable in the long term. And for most, that means eating fewer refined and starchy carbohydrates, and more fruit and vegetables, essential fats, and protein at each meal to improve your health and energy. But it just isn’t as fun or interesting to say, “I’m eating more vegetables and healthy fats!”
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.
You say keto is a highly controversial topic. For those of us following a keto diet, there is no controversy whatsoever because the diet proves itself efficacious very quickly. I think the real controversy comes in because the ADA has been recommending dangerous levels of carbs for decades now, and they would lose face if they had to change their recommendation and admit they’ve been wrong for so long. You say there are not many studies on the keto diet, and I disagree with you. You’ll find the evidence if you look for it. Eric Westman, Steve Phinney, Jeff Volek and many other researchers have written volumes about this.
Probably, and there are a few reasons why the keto diet usually equals weight-loss gold, says Keatley. For starters, people usually reduce their daily caloric intake to about 1,500 calories a day because healthy fats and lean proteins make you feel fuller sooner—and for a longer period of time. And then there’s the fact that it takes more energy to process and burn fat and protein than carbs, so you're burning slightly more calories than you did before. Over time, this can lead to weight loss.
It has been found that a sugary diet is the root cause of various chronic diseases of the body. A recent study (35) showed that sugar can accelerate aging. Several recent studies (36,37) have pointed to the fact that a diet with a high glycemic load is independently associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Glycemic load refers to a diet of different foods that have a high glycemic index. Glycemic index is a measure of the elevation of glucose levels following the ingestion of a carbohydrate. The classification of a carbohydrate based on its glycemic index provided a better predictor of risk for coronary artery diseases than the traditional method of classification of carbohydrate into simple or complex forms (38). In other studies (38–46), it was shown that the risk of dietary glycemic load from refined carbohydrates was independent of other known risk factors for coronary diseases.
Researchers believe that the ketogenic diet can also help patients with schizophrenia to normalize the pathophysiological processes that are causing symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, lack of restraint and unpredictable behavior. One study found that the keto diet lead to elevated concentrations of kynurenic acid (KYNA) in the hippocampus and striatum, which promotes neuroactive activity. Some studies even point to the elimination of gluten as a possible reason for improved symptoms, as researchers observed that patients with schizophrenia tended to eat more carbohydrates immediately before a psychotic episode. (19)
Recently, many of my patients have been asking about a ketogenic diet. Is a ketogenic diet safe? Would you recommend it? Despite the recent hype, a ketogenic diet is not something new. In medicine, we have been using it for almost 100 years to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, especially in children. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkins popularized his very-low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss that began with a very strict two-week ketogenic phase. Over the years, other fad diets incorporated a similar approach for weight loss.
The study concludes, “The ketogenic diet appears to improve glycemic control. Therefore, diabetic patients on a ketogenic diet should be under strict medical supervision because the LCKD can significantly lower blood glucose levels.” Previous research has also shown that for patients with type 2 diabetes, long-term administration of the keto diet lowered body weight, improved blood sugar levels and can result in a smaller needed dose of antidiabetic medication.
This section consists of the most common complaints and struggles that keto dieters will come across. In most cases, these risks can easily be addressed and eliminated completely. Below is a graphic for a quick look at the short terms risks of a ketogenic diet and how to remedy it. If you want to read more about the risks or solutions, scroll down for an in-depth explanation of each.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a history of irregular periods, any type of eating disorder, or a thyroid disorder than it may be best to begin this type of dietary program only while being guided by your doctor or a nutritionist. Pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding should not start the keto diet to be safe. A professional can help you ease into an alkaline keto diet in a moderate, safe way if you’re unsure of how to do this on your way, giving you feedback so the diet won’t negatively interfere with normal hormone production, appetite, sleep or mental focus.
On the keto diet, your body begins to shed fat, water and glycogen, and as this happens you lose key electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium. When you're running low on these electrolytes, you might experience headaches or extreme fatigue. These losses are most pronounced during the first few weeks after you enter ketosis, so if you're going to start the keto diet it's best to plan ahead to make sure you get healthy amounts of these electrolytes — and other vitamins and minerals — either through supplements or a thoughtfully-designed meal plan.
The Ketogenic Diet is a low carbohydrate diet, consisting initially of less than 20 carbohydrates per day. Not per meal, yes, you heard me correctly, per day. It is not for the faint of heart and yes I am writing from experience. Of course I have tried it! Hasn’t everybody in America at some point who has wanted to lose weight? Does it work you ask? Of course it does! The problem is how long can you keep it up?
Still, research on the relationship between the keto diet and mental clarity, as well as anxiety and depression, is still in its early stages, and not all people who try the keto diet report noticeable changes in the ways they think. In fact, some people report an increase in brain fog after switching to the keto diet, though this might be explained by the "keto flu", which describes the flu-like symptoms people tend to experience in the first few weeks after beginning the keto diet.
Lower carbohydrate diets (varying amount of carbohydrates in each study) have shown promise in improving A1c and weight management in Type 2 diabetes, is shown to be better than low-fat diets in improving blood pressure and lipid levels, and more. Along with that, more ketosis studies on different disease states are out there and growing. Ketosis has also been explored for its promise, at least in the short term, for metabolic disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
The keto diet is an extremely effective way to lose weight over a short period of time—even better, according to some research, than low-calorie and low-fat diets. There a few reasons for this: When you’re in ketosis, your body stores less fat. Dieters feel fuller for longer, partly because of the rich food they’re eating, and partly because ketosis changes your hunger hormone levels.
Lazy keto diet: Last but not least, the Lazy keto diet often gets confused with dirty keto … but they’re different, as the “lazy” refers to simply not carefully tracking the fat and protein macros (or calories, for that matter). Meanwhile, the one aspect that remains strict? Not eating over 20 net carb grams per day. Some people find this version less intimidating to start with or end with … but I will caution that your results will be less impressive.
The mean initial weight of the subjects was 101.03±2.33 kg. The weight decreased significantly during all stages of the treatment period. The body weights at the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 91.10±2.76 kg, 89.39±3.4 kg and 86.67±3.70 kg, respectively (Figure 1). Similar to the loss in body weight, a significant decrease was observed in the BMI of the patients following the administration of the ketogenic diet. The initial BMI, and the BMI after the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 37.77±0.79 kg/m2, 33.90±0.83 kg/m2, 33.24±1.00 kg/m2 and 32.06±1.13 kg/m2, respectively (Figure 2).
The longer you’re in ketosis, the more fat you burn. Unfortunately, you may also start to lose muscle tissue, too. While protein is considered the powerhouse muscle builder, your muscles need carbs for adequate formation and maintenance. Without those carbs, your body may start breaking down muscle. “Since your body starts to eat away at muscles as it enters ketosis, your heart, being a muscle, may also be damaged in the process,” Derocha says.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...
I’ve lost 30 pounds in 2 months, I feel better than I ever have, energy levels are up, my skin issues have cleared up, and I am training to run a 5k with my 14 year old. This is the only diet I’ve tried that has been easy to stick to. For me I could never do a diet if I didn’t like the food. Not a chance I could go vegan. Anyone reading this I strongly suggest you do your own research. No offense to the writer but nobody should only look to one opinion as the be all and end all on any topic. Mark Sisson is an amazing resource, has been eating keto for a long time and *gasp* is a marathon runner. On Netflix check out The Magic Pill for some eye opening stuff. Just do as much research as you can before either jumping in or dismissing it. There are some amazing and delicious foods that are keto-friendly, you just gotta put in the time to find them. Keto is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle that includes proper exercise (to avoid loss of muscle mass among many other health benefits), stress management and proper sleep. Be informed.
Depending on how you choose your fats, the keto diet can contain an abundance of saturated fat, which raises levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol and causes atherosclerosis, the buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arteries. If you decide to go keto, have a doctor monitor your cholesterol levels monthly to ensure you remain within a healthy range.
Thank you for your wonderful comments Marcia. To share more about me personally with you all…I am not a completely non-diabetic Certified Diabetes Educator. I found out I had Prediabetes 15 years ago when I became a Diabetes Educator. I tested my own A1c and found it was 5.8%. The incredible news? There have been years when my A1c dropped to a normal level of 5.4%…out of the prediabetes range. My last A1c in May was 5.8%, so I still have Prediabetes 15 years later, but not diabetes, and without any medication, just the sensible diet I’ve discussed and exercise, so I really am living with this. I feel it everyday, I wonder what my A1c is going to be just like you every 6 months when I go to have it drawn.
In regard to serum measurements, the mean fasting glucose decreased by 17% from 9.08 ± 4.09 mmol/L at baseline to 7.57 ± 2.63 mmol/L at week 16 (p = 0.04) (Table (Table4).4). Serum sodium and chloride levels increased significantly, but only by 1% and 3%, respectively. Uric acid level decreased by 10% (p = 0.01). Serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001). Increases occurred in both high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (8%) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (10%) but these changes were of borderline statistical significance (p = 0.08 and p = 0.1, respectively). The following blood tests did not change significantly: total cholesterol, potassium, bicarbonate, urea nitrogen, creatinine, calcium, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and hemoglobin.
If the liver is resistant to insulin, that's a bad sign for the rest of the body and could mean there's an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the researchers said. What's more, these results are concerning because overweight patients seeking to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by following a ketogenic diet could unintentionally be increasing their risk for developing the disease, at least in the first few days of their diet.
I am beside myself. I’m at the point that I’m afraid to eat anything. It goes right through me!! I’ve had liquid diarrhea for 3 weeks now and don’t know what to do. I’m up through the night and it’s really messing with my sleep. I have breast cancer and I really need to do this diet. I’m very worried. I have been taking psyllium husks but I’m afraid to go overboard. Is it ok to take that every day? Thanks you!