What is the ketogenic diet exactly? The classic ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet plan that was originally designed in the 1920s for patients with epilepsy by researchers working at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Researchers found that fasting — avoiding consumption of all foods for a brief period of time (such as with intermittent fasting), including those that provide carbohydrates — helped reduce the amount of seizures patients suffered, in addition to having other positive effects on body fat, blood sugar, cholesterol and hunger levels. (1)
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.
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Imagine your body is a home with a fireplace in the middle and the heat required to keep it at a comfortable\livable temp is keeping the fireplace burning at a manageable and constant pace. To do this you have two fuel-types at your disposal: Kerosene and Charcoal. (in this analogy Kerosene is carbohydrates and coal is fat). American diets are high in carbs, which is like throwing a bucket full of kerosene on that fire. Will it keep the house warm? Sure, but it burns down fast so you have to keep throwing bucket after bucket on it to keep it going, consuming tons of kerosene, and you get these huge spikes in heat. It is much harder to control the strength of the flame, and thus much harder to keep the house at a constant, comfortable temp.


Louella you are absolutely wrong. It’s actually funny to me that this dietitian talks about the keto diet to such an extent but neither you nor her ever mention Gluconeogenesis. Yes your brain has specific areas that can only use glucose, but the human body is a wonderful thing and can use a few different substrates to synthesize glucose without you ever having to eat it yourself. Look up Gluconeogenesis. Your body has the ability to convert the amino acids you find in protein into usable glucose for your brain. The fact that you don’t know this shows me how uneducated you are about the ketogenic diet in general. Perhaps you should read up on the subject before you start trying to sound like a scientist who clearly has no idea what she is talking about. Thanks.
For those who want to follow a ketogenic-type diet, Dr. Reynolds says it is important to first talk to your doctor and to discuss your goals so you can be sure that this approach is suitable for you given your medical and health history. Ongoing monitoring is needed if you do decide to adopt this very carb approach to eating. Seeing your doctor regularly is important to make sure that your blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, mood, and medications are within normal ranges as you lose weight. Adjustments are likely going to be necessary from time to time.
The most important thing that diabetics have to learn is that there is no reason to avoid fat, not even saturated fat. It is not saturated fat that causes arteriosclerosis and heart disease, but an excess of refined carbohydrates like sugar and flour. Seed oils are implicated in the disease although by other mechanisms that involve damaged lipids and mitochondrial toxins.
Nutritionists frequently advise clients to reach for more healthy fats and protein to stay full throughout the day. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that a ketogenic diet would be about as good as it gets for staying satiated. One study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found this type of low-carb approach was more effective for weight loss and managing hunger than a similar high-protein diet with a greater percentage of carbohydrates. One 2013 study even suggested the eating plan may suppress hunger hormones more effectively than other weight-loss programs.
Author’s note: I want to stress again the importance of consulting with your doctor before you try ketogenic dieting. The more I study this area of science, the more I realize that every individual is extremely unique when it comes to health issues and there are a ton of reasons why you should NOT go full-on keto (especially if you are prone to kidney, heart, or gallbladder issues). That being said, for many people this form of eating is life changing, and the amount of scientific research supporting a ketogenic lifestyle is significantly increasing. Subscribe to my newsletter to stay posted when I publish new articles, and I’d appreciate any and all feedback/corrections on the content I’ve written above. Thanks! (Image credit)
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
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Because women with the infertility condition PCOS are at a greater risk for diabetes and obesity, some clinicians recommend the keto diet, says Taylor Moree, RD, LD, of Balance Fitness and Nutrition in Atlanta. But PCOS is no different from most health conditions mentioned here: Long-term research on the safety is needed.
Iwould hope to meet a diabetic nurse in the uk who was open minded about keto, but that has not been my experience as a patient. As a nurse speaking to colleagues as an equal and frmy experience has been very different. I have not spoken to one nurse with personal/professional interest in this subject that has said if they were diabetic they would follow the guidance of our health service. All have said they would do keto.
If you're new to keto, watch out for hidden carbs. Generally, dairy products and nuts are a good way to meet your daily fat intake, but know that some of those items may contain more carbohydrates than you think. For example, yogurt topped with nuts may seem like a great keto-friendly snack, but a 5.3 ounce serving of plain yogurt has 12 grams of carbohydrates. Vanilla flavored yogurt has 24 grams of carbohydrates. Add an ounce of cashews, weighing in at nearly nine grams of carbs, and you’re up to 21 to 33 grams of carbs for that snack, which could knock you out of ketosis. Be sure to read nutrition labels carefully and pay careful attention to serving sizes. Track foods using a keto-specific app like Senza or KetoDiet can help you stay within your recommended daily carb intake.
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.
We are all supposed to be eating 5 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. That provides you with all the essential vitamins and nutrients needed to run a healthy body along with the protein you choose to consume alone with them. I guess if you can fit those into a Ketogenic diet and make that work for you for a lifetime, I would have to say that is absolutely wonderful! I just know, I have a lot of willpower and I only made it 1 year back when I tried. It was just too restrictive. I see too many stories like that. The blogger I wrote about, all the studies, most participants had dropped out at 6 months. No study I have seen has shown anyone who has stayed on it for 10 years, 15, 20, 30, 40 years. If you know one, please let me know!
Researchers who set out to review the current state of research as it relates to the ketogenic diet published their results in the highly respected European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Their comprehensive evaluation showed that the ketogenic diet held promise in a vast array of medical conditions and is promising results in other conditions, such as:
This suggests that we should cycle in and out of ketosis by periodically increasing carbs to avoid this hypothyroidism. Incidentally, the more I read of the much-maligned Bob Atkins’ writings the more impressed I become. He clearly was extremely well-read in the scientific literature and modified and expanded his protocols as he got more information. If you read his Age-Defying Diet book, apart from Dr D’s absolute prohibition of grains, it isn’t too different from WB principles. See this quote (page 290)

So yes, the ketogenic diet is safe for diabetics. However, they still need to be closely monitored because diabetes medications including insulin, blood pressure, and beta blockers will have to be adjusted down when following a ketogenic diet. Therefore, the diabetic should do this with supervision from a doctor who is up to date with the nutritional literature.
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