A recent pilot study put five patients on the ketogenic diet (less than 20 grams per day of carbohydrate). At the end of six months, the average weight loss was 28 pounds (but this wasn’t the most surprising finding). Each patient underwent a liver biopsy, and four of the five patients had a reduction in liver fat, inflammation, and fibrosis. However, this is a small pilot study that also used supplements, so the results are not conclusive. What does the rest of the research say?
“What many diabetics aren’t aware of, is that it is the fat that is the problem when it comes to type 2 diabetes. Nearly 100 years ago, healthy volunteers were split into two groups – half were fed a fat-rich diet, and the other half on a carb-rich diet. Within just two days, the fatty diet groups’ glucose intolerance skyrocketed to amounts twice as high as those fed a carbohydrate-rich diet (9).
What are the side effects of the ketogenic diet? It’s not uncommon for people beginning the keto diet to experience “keto flu” symptoms, which can include: irritability, cravings, menstruation issues in women, constipation, fatigue, headaches and poor exercise performance. These side effects are due to the body going through major metabolic shifts and essentially withdrawing from carbs and sugar.
Fats produce more energy as compared to proteins or carbohydrates and this quality of theirs renders them very helpful in ensuring that the body is sufficiently energized. Since your body is using up fat for providing energy for the whole reaction system, the fat content decreases over time. This happens since the fats are not in the adipose tissues now. Instead, they are being broken up as they are ingested. This further prevents obesity.
By going on a ketogenic diet, you are far more likely to increase your level of fiber intake, primarily through fruits and non-starchy vegetables. This increase in dietary fiber will help aid digestive health by promoting peristaltic motion and easing the passage of bowel movements. This can lower your risk of indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, gastric ulcers and even colorectal cancer.
So rather than giving one-size-fits-all dietary advice or weaponizing the word “balanced” it might be better if the medical community suggested that there are Individual differences that need to be considered. This might also help those lay folk who have had success with one dietary lifestyle or another also realize that what’s valid for them may not be good advice for others.
Ketones are a cellular “superfuel” and one in particular – beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) – drives powerful, beneficial processes. Beta-hydroxybutyrate is important for the regulation of important genes, inflammation regulation, immune system activity, and even antioxidant function. This important ketone is one of the fundamental reasons the keto diet is so beneficial.
And, it's important to recognize that both study teams acknowledge that as exciting as their findings seem, a large, randomized controlled trial is still needed to more closely assess a variety of components that may be contributing to the successes found in both studies before the findings can be recommended to anyone outside the study groups1,2 he says.
It should be noted that the concept that fat can be eaten ad libitum and still induce weight loss in obese subjects is not a recent one (13–33). Ketosis occurs as a result of the change in the body’s fuel from carbohydrate to fat. Incomplete oxidation of fatty acids by the liver results in the accumulation of ketone bodies in the body. A ketogenic diet maintains the body in a state of ketosis, which is characterized by an elevation of D-b-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate.
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.
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.
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Twenty-one of the 28 participants who were enrolled completed the study. Twenty participants were men; 13 were White, 8 were African-American. The mean [± SD] age was 56.0 ± 7.9 years and BMI was 42.2 ± 5.8 kg/m2. Hemoglobin A1c decreased by 16% from 7.5 ± 1.4% to 6.3 ± 1.0% (p < 0.001) from baseline to week 16. Diabetes medications were discontinued in 7 participants, reduced in 10 participants, and unchanged in 4 participants. The mean body weight decreased by 6.6% from 131.4 ± 18.3 kg to 122.7 ± 18.9 kg (p < 0.001). In linear regression analyses, weight change at 16 weeks did not predict change in hemoglobin A1c. Fasting serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001) while other serum lipid measurements did not change significantly.
Carbohydrates: Historically, a targeted keto diet consists of limiting carbohydrate intake to just 20–30 net grams per day. “Net carbs” is the amount of carbs remaining once dietary fiber is taken into account. Because fiber is indigestible once eaten, most people don’t count grams of fiber toward their daily carb allotment. In other words, total carbs – grams of fiber = net carbs. That’s the carb counts that matter most.
One aspect that is not often mentioned is carb cravings. Before I started a keto diet, every day I would have serious starchy- or sweet- carb cravings that were uncontrollable and HAD TO BE satisfied. The high-fat keto diet has pretty much eliminated those carb cravings. It is wonderful to not be under the control of those cravings anymore. I think the high success rate of keto diets is that you are not hungry and have no cravings.
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.
“If not done right, this diet can cause havoc on our bodies,” says Mancella. “As a society, we’ve turned to a culture of restriction and extremes in order to obtain unrealistic beauty and aesthetic standards without considering the long-term consequences. This diet doesn’t only affect metabolism, but also every other component of our bodies. By introducing potential vitamin and mineral deficiencies, we’re possibly trading the present moment for quality ones in the future.”
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.
The keto diet gained most of its attention for its role in the nutritional management of epilepsy and Alzheimers. More recently, science has shown positive clinical outcomes for a number of types of cancers through its ability to minimize tumor growth. In the case of all three of these diseases, ketones are therapeutic through providing an alternative substrate to glucose.
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.
Best animal proteins are wild salmon, tuna, trout, shellfish, red meats, and poultry. The oil, protein sources will help balance your omega 3s. You only need 70 to 80 grams of protein a day, depending on your lifestyle and your body's physical needs. Protein requirements are different for everyone. Here are some good protein sources to include in your diet.
Another potential benefit of the ketogenic diet is that it is thought to improve insulin sensitivity5,6. Prediabetics and diabetics are often referred to as “insulin resistant” because their muscle, fat, and liver tissues do not respond properly to insulin. When the pancreas can’t meet the body’s need for insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, contributing to diabetes and other medical conditions7.
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?
“Some patients may need to supplement with sodium, as long as they do not have blood pressure issues. Some may even need prescription potassium supplementation,” Rahnama said, adding that she begins all keto diet patients on a magnesium supplement, as it’s an electrolyte that can be taken with low risk of overdose. She also said keto dieters may have to up their carb intake if they have continued issues with hydration.
However, this diet isn’t for everyone. If traditional bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and/or fruit are what you live for, then you might just be miserable on keto. However, if you’re open to exploring different tastes, then the good news is there are substitutes for many of these foods. Cauliflower pizza crust, rice, and even gnocchi; zoodles (noodles made from zucchini); almond flour bread and almond milk are all readily available from most stores now. A small amount of berries is acceptable, but for the most part say goodbye to apples, melons, plums and peaches. Booze and sugar are also out, but if you’re living with diabetes, you likely already know how to manage these desires.