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.
Although various short-term studies examining the effect of a ketogenic diet in reducing the weight of obese patients have been carried out (10), its long-term effects in obese subjects are not known (15). Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet on obesity and obesity-associated risk factors in a large population of obese patients.
Related to this research, some serious attention has been given to ketogenic dieting and Alzheimers Disease. Scientists have discovered increased cognition and enhanced memory in adults with impairments in these areas, and a growing body of research shows improvement at all stages of dementia. Ketosis has been shown to be effective against Parkinson’s disease as well.
But the question remains, can you keep it off? Aside from the fact that it’s a pretty hard diet to keep up (ah, no birthday cake!), one large meta-analysis found that while low-carb dieters tended to lose more weight than low-fat dieters at first, the differences disappeared by the one-year mark. This may be because cutting carbs tends to reduce bloating and water weight, which may level out over time. But the bottom line on weight loss? Calorie restriction is calorie restriction. You just have to find what works best for you, and slashing carbs for fat might or might not work.
I’ve been there and have tried the Ketogenic Diet. It’s very difficult even though I am a very determined and goal oriented person. When I set my mind up to do something, I will normally achieve it because I am just so stubborn about personal goals that I don’t give up until I do! Yes, you will lose a lot of weight quickly, but I am not interested in giving up bread, pasta and birthday cake for the rest of my life.
Another one of my concerns long-term is that many people are being persuaded to remain on a ketogenic diet over a long period. In 3, 5, or 10 years, we are going to see a sharp rise in colon cancer cases. People in conventional dietary circles will then point fingers at all of us engaged in unconventional dietary advice and we will be lumped together and labeled as dangerous fads. The key is to be smarter and to view ketogenic dieting as the short-term tool/response it is, not as a solution to all health struggles.
While people can argue back and forth about the role carbohydrates play in a healthy lifestyle, no one is going to say packaged snack foods are healthy. This is one of the areas where the ketogenic diet definitely succeeds because it eliminates the opportunity to eat highly processed foods, which are made almost entirely from sugar and other refined carbs. In a review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the authors highlighted a number of studies showing a ketogenic diet can significantly improve insulin sensitivity for those with type 2 diabetes. They went so far as to say, “results have been nothing short of miraculous.”
It sounds damning, but before you stop eating beef and lamb, check out the details. The non-red meat diet differed from the red meat diet in many ways. The non-red meat dieters weren’t just avoiding red meat; they also ate way more fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese, and soy than the meat eaters. The researchers failed to control all other aspects of the diet, instead focusing only on the meat.
Although we love them to death, our Mom’s typically have zero authority on the subject. When Mom heard you were going on a ketosis diet the first thing she did was head to google hell bent on finding any information about the dangers of the diet. Sure enough, 10 pages into google she found what she was looking for… Never mind the first 9 pages filled with information about the safety and merits of the diet.
What makes the the ketogenic diet unique among low-carb diets is that it’s characterized by a drastic reduction in carbohydrates (usually less than 30–50 grams per day, depending on individual goals) and also a significant increase in fats, as opposed to protein. The goal of the KD is to enter the metabolic state of ketosis, which happens after a few days of strict carbohydrate restriction.
I have T2D and IBS and my blood sugar readings were degrading. I was going to have to take a second daily dose of Metformin and the first one already played havoc with the IBS. I started a low-carb diet because my T1D husband had been inspired by a podcast by Sam Harris with scientist Gary Taubes, author Why We Get Fat, Good Calories, Bad Calories and the Case Against Sugar, and started dumping the majority of his carbs a month previous. He had cut his insulin use literally in half and lost 15 pounds. He was feeling better and visibly had more energy. I was resistant to the diet and even the idea of it. I have been on Atkins and Sugar Busters and while I did fine on Sugar Busters back in the day, Atkins was too fat-based and that was the opposite of how I had been raised to think about dieting. I knew that the Diabetic diet given to me by the Diabetic Educator had never been enough and I get carby binge cravings even though it offers plenty of carbs and calories. I also knew that it’s a cycle for me-eat more carbs, want more carbs, and never really feel satisfied. On top of that, when my stomach hurts I seek carbs, and it hurts quite often. I did Weight Watchers and the Diabetic diets because they let me “cheat” and have my carbs while dieting. To be fair, just the act of tracking my food improved my outcome on either. But I got mad at WW when they upped the points for carbs on their system and made it so I couldn’t eat cake for lunch if I wanted to. Not that I made a practice of it, but it was principle of the thing. Long story short, I was pretty doubtful that I would be very successful on Atkins or Keto. To humor my husband I began a low-carb diet that started out as Atkins 20 or Keto and has morphed to more of an Atkins 30-40 for my personal comfort while using Keto, Atkins, and Paleo recipes and ultimately cutting all gluten. That means 30-40 net carbs per day, rather than per meal and a lot of natural non-processed foods. The first week was quite terrible. But even through the Keto Flu I recognized that my IBS symptoms felt better. I started to suspect that if I felt that bad just from quitting carbs that maybe there was more to the idea of sugar addiction than I wanted to believe. I’m six weeks in now and I’m losing a steady pound a week plus my sugars have dropped radically. A pound a week might not sound like much but it’s more than I’ve lost in 10 years. I have PCOS and insulin resistance so I’ve had a fasting blood sugar that ranged from 109-113 since my early twenties. It was flying high around 160-170 before the diet, now I’m reading between 119-139. Even more than that, my IBS symptoms stabilized. I’ve been tracking all my food using the free Atkins meal tracker so I started trying to narrow the foods that caused flare ups. I’m lactose intolerant but I knew that and used lactose free products or Lactaid for the cream based dishes. I had my gall bladder removed and so have always put down my symptoms to an inability to process dairy and fats. Big surprise to find that a higher fat, higher dairy diet was making my symptoms disappear. Gluten is the only common factor so far. Celiac? Just a food sensitivity? I don’t know, but that will be the next investigation. It is an investigation that I would never have thought to start on the Diabetic diet. Like the author, I’m very fond of cake and carbs. Luckily there are low-carb, no-gluten recipes for muffins and cakes. They aren’t exactly the same and some are definitely better than others, but they are out there. Plus, there is nothing wrong with having true birthday cake once a year if that is really what you need and if you don’t have a reason to avoid it, like binge symptoms or IBS flare ups. My husband let himself have a piece of cheesecake the other day and felt physically awful for two day after, plus he had to use a lot of insulin to counter the spike. It’s a pretty good deterrent. Just a side note but I had other symptoms of inflammation as well. My ankles were swelling to golf ball size and painful, it was difficult for me to stand and walk comfortably when this happened. While they haven’t stopped completely, the discomfort has gone way down as has the swelling and frequency. What’s my point? I’m not a salesman for a particular diet. Everyone is different and some people might respond very well to Keto and/or Atkins while others may not need anything that extreme. I’m not knocking the Diabetic diet. My dad lost 150 pounds 38 years ago on a very low calorie/low carb Diabetic diet that gradually increased and he has kept the weight off all this time and kept his blood sugar steady with medication, but has not had to go to insulin even at age 84. Also, he was a smoker, a diabetic, had hemochromatosis and was over 300 pounds with an apple body shape. He has had some fall out from this-he didn’t stop the smoking until a heart attack 20 years ago and that didn’t help. But he has made it to 84 and when he walked into his doctor’s office 40 years ago I’m guessing the doctor wouldn’t have put any money on that survival rate. Unfortunately, it looks like I need the lower carb version and will continue to need it to manage my symptoms. I didn’t want it, that’s for sure. But Diabetics are locked in a death struggle with Diabetes and it won’t give up just because we are tired or want our sugar. So for me, it has to be Very Low Carb for Life. Others may find they need this too and discouraging them from trying it is not doing them any favors. Hopefully I will continue to find this sustainable. I just need to keep reminding myself that I am more fond of my feet and my vision than my birthday cake.
Another way to test the body’s response to nutritional ketosis is through breath acetone levels. This essentially shows how much of the ketones are being utilized by the body. I used a Levl meter (use the code wellnessmama at this link for $25 off) to test breath acetone levels. This device is more pricey but does not require strips so it can be used more often. I used it to test my response to certain foods or exercises and to see if they pulled me out of ketosis.
The keto diet has also been studied as a possible cancer therapy. In a study focusing on people with cancer who followed the ketogenic diet as a medical therapy,4 the authors reported: “There is a great need for complementary approaches that have limited patient toxicity while selectively enhancing therapy responses in cancer versus normal tissues.
Circulating ketone bodies make the blood too acidic, which will draw calcium from the bones as a buffer response. While there are relatively few studies on long-term (more than 6 months) effects of a non-therapeutic keto diet, studies of children on the diet show high calcium levels in the blood, increased bone demineralization and increased risk of kidney stones.
The New York Times pieces also points out that studies are disproving this concern and making a case for both children and adults with type 1 diabetes to consider a ketogenic diet. Specifically, a 2018 study published in the journal, Pediatrics, which took a look at glycemic control among children and adults with type 1 diabetes who followed a very low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. The researchers found that both the adults and children who consumed this diet along with smaller doses of insulin than typically required exhibited “exceptional” blood sugar control without high rates of complications. In addition, the study data did not show an adverse effect of a very low-carbohydrate diet on children’s growth, although more research may still be a good idea, according to researchers.
Holy cow Batman i started keto diet on the 9th of January within 4 days I was no longer on bydureon (weekly insulin) levemir 60units 2x daily and no more Novolog 25 units3x daily all that and metformin 10002x and this all didn’t have my sugars under control amazingly keto diet got sugars in check within four days I’ve been on diet now for 15 days and have honestly never fealt better I’m still green on diet and have had some issues while my body is healing itself (keto flu,low electrolytes very sluggish) .. My aunties actually have been on diet for a year now and were the ones that referred me to it after seeing there transformation i was on Board I’m having my first cheat day cause it’s my bday and other family members haven’t and don’t need the diet so I eat what they make a couple times a year this diet had been literally a life saver to me I’m down to my metformin 2x a day and sugars are at 90-140 depending on when I test after/before a meal with all the meds sugars haven’t been under 200 for the last two years so woot woot to Keto I’ll keep y’all posted thanks for the article my doctor is concerned about ketoacidosis so she’s not on Board and I need forums like this to help me move forward
The recommendations I made in the Grain Brain Whole Life plan favor a mild state of ketosis, which may be the natural state of human metabolism. To be clear, our ancestors didn’t have access to such rich and unlimited sources of sugars and carbohydrates like we do. So, if you are going to adopt the ketogenic diet, as I have, here are three quick tips for ensuring you’re doing it the right way.
After reading that article I have to say that the “USC experts” are full of it. It’s the usual scare stuff that the mainstream docs and dietitians trot out to attempt to discredit LCHF and keto diets. There’s no reason why a keto diet should be any worse for bone health than any other diet provided it has adequate calcium, phosphate and Vit K2 and you have good Vit D levels. As for the recommendations of dietitians – eat lots of healthywholegrains and “vegetable” oils but no saturated fats – we know what the long-term results are of that: diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Hi, I’m Bhuboy. Nutrition became my biggest passion after getting my blood chemical result showing my LDL cholesterol level over 481. I wanted to create a site where I could help you, my readers live a healthy and nutritious life. I believe we control our destiny, and we can choose to live a long and healthy life by eating right and treating our bodies with respect.
But Jini’s doctor — intelligent though I’m sure he was — fell victim to the common confusion between nutritional ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis, the latter of which being a life-threatening complication of Type 1 diabetes, where ketones are produced rapidly, overwhelming the body’s acid-base buffering system. This is a common misconception or myth about keto diets that I seek to dispel.
Hello Dr. Jockers, in the past few months I have been working on cleaning up my diet. Eating gluten & dairy free as much as possible. I started taking exogenous ketones at the same time. I got a juicer for Christmas and about 3 weeks ago I added celery juice ( 1st thing in the AM) and a carrot, apple, turmeric juice in the afternoon. Some days I am fine and other days I have sudden diarrhea within an hour of drinking the celery juice. I’ve read so much about the benefits of drinking it but am wondering if the ketones are reacting to it adversely? Please let me know your thoughts on this.
The keto diet restricts carbs so much that anyone who is on blood sugar lower medication or who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes must consult his or her doctor before making such a severe dietary change. As the body adapts to low-carb dieting, medication dosages and treatment plans will have to be revised, and blood sugar levels must be carefully monitored.
Achieving ketosis by engaging in a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat lifestyle is—without a doubt—an effective means of losing weight, breaking insulin and leptin resistance, reversing type 2 diabetes and fatty liver, reducing blood pressure, reversing the inflammation of visceral fat, and may even cause partial or total remission of selected cancers. It means taking advantage of a natural physiological response to accelerate benefits.
The level of total cholesterol showed a significant decrease from week 1 to week 24 (Figure 3). The level of HDL cholesterol significantly increased (Figure 4), whereas LDL cholesterol levels significantly decreased with treatment (Figure 5). The level of triglycerides decreased significantly after 24 weeks of treatment. The initial level of triglycerides was 2.75±0.23 mmol/L, whereas at week 24, the level decreased to 1.09±0.08 mmol/L (Figure 6). The level of blood glucose significantly decreased at week 24. The initial blood glucose level and its level at the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 7.26±0.38 mmol/L, 5.86±0.27 mmol/L, 5.56±0.19 mmol/L and 5.62±0.18 mmol/L, respectively (Figure 7). The changes in the levels of urea (Figure 8) and creatinine (Figure 9) were not statistically significant.
Reduces mitochondrial free radial production, which decreases oxidative stress. Research demonstrates that the ketogenic diet reduces free radical levels in the brain. Furthermore, studies in cardiac tissue have suggested that ketones reduce oxidative stress, a pathogenic process implicated in many disorders ranging from atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries) to other diseases more specific to the nervous system.
Researchers are divided over whether the keto diet is good for people who don’t need to follow it for medical reasons. Since it doesn’t differentiate between saturated and unsaturated fats, dieters are at risk of raising their cholesterol levels. And because the heavily restrictive diet cuts out most fruits and vegetables, it can also lead to nutrient deficiency. The Harvard Health Letter warned that with so much fat and protein to metabolize, keto practitioners may experience liver and kidney problems as well.
I would just like to share with you that my patients are HORRIFIED if their physicians ask them to cut out “everything white” in their diet. This is what some doctors ask for…essentially asking for the Ketogenic diet and most of my patients are in shock! Not only would I never want to skip a year of my birthday cake, but I wouldn’t ask my patients to either! One slice of cake is certainly not going to harm anyone with diabetes and hopefully you know enough about carbohydrates and their short term effect on BG levels to know this too! I am not a Registered Dietitian, so I couldn’t speak to this diet in regard to children with epilepsy. Are you a Neuro RN? TheDiabetesCouncil did just post another article where 25 Registered Dieticians weighed in regarding the Ketogenic Diet, so I would encourage you all to check that out!
Note that as a general rule it’s easier to err on the low side, and if your blood glucose goes a bit high you can take more insulin later if needed. That’s OK. If instead you overdose and get low sugar that is potentially far more dangerous. You’ll also have to quickly eat or drink more carbohydrates, and that obviously reduces the effect of the low-carb diet.
You work out for a few months and get in shape and fall back to the old habits because you were not conditioned mentally, only physically. Physical fitness is only a part of journey, fitness is over 75% percent mental. Gyms, nutritionists, and personal trainers give most people a temporary Band-Aid but never address the actual issue. The 3-Week Ketogenic Diet includes secret mindset strategies to make your journey so much easier.
In a March 2018 blog post, Dr. Ede provides a range of very helpful tips for anyone already on mood-altering or psychiatric medications who want to try a ketogenic diet, such as how to talk with your psychiatrist or mental-health provider and what laboratory metabolic tests the doctor should order to help monitor your response to the diet. Most importantly, she provides details about some specific medications — notably specific antipsychotic medications, anticonvulsant medications, and lithium — that should be carefully monitored.
As far as the Ketogenic Diet is concerned, I think I am going to have to make a full about-face. As you said, for some people like yourself, you were unable to eat in moderation and feel it is due to your genetic makeup. This is probably true…to add insult to injury, in addition to genetics, it could also be an inflammatory process going on due to the sugary drinks and processed foods we are eating causing obesity and a host of other issues.
In summary, the LCKD had positive effects on body weight, waist measurement, serum triglycerides, and glycemic control in a cohort of 21 participants with type 2 diabetes. Most impressive is that improvement in hemoglobin A1c was observed despite a small sample size and short duration of follow-up, and this improvement in glycemic control occurred while diabetes medications were reduced substantially in many participants. Future research must further examine the optimal medication adjustments, particularly for diabetes and diuretic agents, in order to avoid possible complications of hypoglycemia and dehydration. Because the LCKD can be very effective at lowering blood glucose, patients on diabetes medication who use this diet should be under close medical supervision or capable of adjusting their medication.
The keto diet involves getting up to 80 percent of daily calories from sources of healthy fat, a significant change for most of her patients who were accustomed to running on carbs, caffeine and sugar for energy. It became clear that something else had to be adjusted in order to prevent the side effects associated with the keto diet. This is when she came up with the idea to focus on restoring alkalinity first and foremost.
I told the nurse that I would not take the medications, and I would manage it with diet. She looked at me skeptically, and said “I would not recommend that.”. They had me scheduled for a follow up in a month and a half, so I told her that I would do my own thing for that time, and if my numbers did not improve, we could discuss the medication further.
While it’s an extremely important factor, your diet is not the only variable that affects your pH level and hormones. Other factors that influence alkalinity, aside from the foods you eat, include: the level of stress you deal with on a daily basis, how much sleep you get nightly, the amount of sunlight exposure you get and the level of environmental toxicity you’re exposed to.
This concept was previously unthinkable as modern nutritional science was led to believe that the body’s metabolism relied on gluconeogenesis to create ATP as energy for the body’s metabolic processes. Glycogen derives from dietary carbohydrate intake, so by removing it from the diet, nutritionists expected devastating health results to emerge in practitioners of the diet.
Great article! Sustainability is key and Keto diet is extremely restrictive compared to others. Many of the comments I see don’t understand the importance of many years of research before stating something has a “significant difference” than the recommendations that are already in place. Also, understanding the pro/carb/fat balance in each meal instead of focusing on just carbohydrates. We have practiced the same modified Mediterranean diet at my practice where someone can enjoy life, eat complex carbohydrates and years later they are still successful and hundreds of pounds have been lost for good 🙂 Thank you for the reminder (and the comparison of Adkins supported research).
I totally appreciate your article. My son-in-law was just telling me a friend of his who is a bodybuilder told him that staying in ketosis for more than 4 months at a time will cause muscle atrophy in your body to eat its muscles. Well of course this concerned me, so running through the internet I ran across your article. I’m really glad to see these 10 myths that you’ve dispelled. I feel much more confident and comfortable staying in ketosis. Thank you.
Following a ketogenic diet puts your body into a state of “ketosis,” which is a metabolic state that occurs when most of the body’s energy comes from ketone bodies in the blood, rather than from glucose from carbohydrate foods (like grains, all sources of sugar or fruit, for example). This is in contrast to a glycolytic state, where blood glucose (sugar) provides most of the body’s fuel (or energy).
Longer-term studies conducted on animals have shown the KD may be associated with some adverse events. For example, in rodent studies, some will develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (defined as liver damage that is not due to excess consumption of alcohol, viral or autoimmune causes, and iron overload ) and insulin resistance when put on the keto diet long-term. Other studies suggest that some individuals may be predisposed to heart-related problems if they eat a very high-fat diet for an extended period of time.
This effect can also be demonstrated by researchers at Kraft Foods, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For 12 weeks one group ate a low fat, calorie restricted date, and the other ate a low-carb, high-fat diet without restriction… other than low carb of course. After 12 weeks, the low-fat group lost 5.5 pounds and the low-carb group lost 10.8 pounds.
There are so many tricks, shortcuts, and gimmicks out there on achieving optimal ketosis – I’d suggest you don’t bother with any of that. Optimal ketosis can be accomplished through dietary nutrition alone (aka just eating food). You shouldn’t need a magic pill to do it. Just stay strict, remain vigilant, and be focused on recording what you eat (to make sure your carb and protein intake are correct).
"Keto is not a great long-term diet, as it is not a balanced diet," Nancy Rahnama, M.D., M.S., an internal medicine and bariatric specialist, told Reader's Digest. "A diet that is devoid of fruit and vegetables will result in long-term micronutrient deficiencies that can have other consequences. The keto diet can be used for short-term fat loss, as long as it is under medical supervision."
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?
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.