The keto diet works for such a high percentage of people because it targets several key, underlying causes of weight gain — including hormonal imbalances, especially insulin resistance coupled with high blood sugar levels, and the cycle of restricting and “binging” on empty calories due to hunger that so many dieters struggle with. In fact, these are some of the direct benefits of the keto diet.
The ketone bodies produced during keto diet block high concentrations of glutamate and reduce oxidative stress on the brain – that are the primary reason behind both migraines and epilepsy. A study on two twin sisters who had high-frequency migraine revealed that they benefited significantly from weight loss KD and reported much relief from migraines.
Even though people might argue about the importance of including carbohydrates in their diet, no one can affirm that packed snack foods are beneficial. The ketogenic diet eliminates processed foods. So, you can stay away from adding sugar and refined carbs in your meals. In this direction, a scientific study available in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually indicates that following a ketogenic diet may significantly enhance insulin sensitivity for patients who have type 2 diabetes.
Others consider the keto diet a short-term solution for weight loss. Tyler Drew, a 34-year-old real estate broker from Los Angeles, first read about the diet on Reddit and used it to lose 45 pounds in six months before returning to a traditional diet. While on the keto diet, Drew’s cholesterol levels improved, even though a typical day of eating involved bacon at both breakfast and dinner.
While these findings are preliminary, in one study of mice, the keto diet helped reduce anxiety. The research suggests this could be due to the protective brain benefits of intake of healthy fats and low levels of sugar. A follow-up study found that mice exposed to a ketogenic diet while in utero showed less susceptibility to anxiety and depression than mice born to mothers who were not on the keto diet. Here’s what it’s really like to follow the keto diet.
It has been known for more than a decade that bipolar disorder shares a number of clinical, biochemical and physiologic features with epilepsy and that a similar neurobiology may underpin both disorders. Both conditions cycle, both are risk factors for each other, and anticonvulsant drugs used in epilepsy have been found to be effective in helping manage bipolar illness.
In March 2018, our friend Vickie, who is a type 1 diabetic, told us about the keto way of life. She shared some interesting data Dr. Ken Berry puts out on YouTube. The things Dr. Berry said made total sense to us and we decided we needed to give keto a try. Both I and my girlfriend decided to give this Keto way of life a try. We officially started on March 5, 2018.
“I’m no longer on insulin, and I have cut down my medications due to keto. I never had to deal with trying to find a spot to inject or having to deal with bruises on my belly,” she says. “I know this may sound silly, but I have a picture of my old insulin syringes in my wallet. I look at it to remind me of what I had to do before keto. It grounds me, and when I have days of self-doubt, I remind myself how far I’ve come.”
I must note here, that as a nutrition professional who has worked in pediatrics and seen children who must follow this diet, it is incredibly challenging for both the child and family. Most people who must follow this diet for therapeutic medical reasons have trouble actually reaching ketosis with diet alone, and need to drink poor-tasting formula drinks to keep their carb-to-fat ratio in tight control. Many of these individuals must follow this way of eating to survive or have any sort of quality of life.
And while some fats can be healthy, there’s a risk that in following a high-fat diet, you’ll increase your intake of unhealthy trans and saturated fats. These “bad” fats are found in things like red meat, poultry skin, cheese, and butter, and can lead to an increase in LDL, or “bad” cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease. (14) This is a controversial issue, as some experts do recommend adopting a low-carbohydrate diet to lower heart disease risk. If you’re at risk or have heart disease, it’s important to speak with your doctor first about your health needs.
8. Avoid milk. First of all, milk is difficult to digest, because it does not contain the “good” bacteria which is usually eliminated during pasteurization and may also contain hormones. Secondly, milk is considerably high in carbs. When you have to take coffee or tea, replace the milk with cream. You could have a little amount of raw milk but bear it in mind that it could bring it extra carbs.
Something that makes the keto diet different from other low-carb diets is that it does not “protein-load.” Protein is not as big a part of the keto diet as fat is. Reason being: In small amounts, the body can change protein to glucose, which means if you eat too much of it, especially while in the beginning stages, it will slow down your body’s transition into ketosis.
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.
Obesity has become a serious chronic disease in both developing and developed countries. Furthermore, it is associated with a variety of chronic diseases (1–4). It is estimated that in the United States alone approximately 300,000 people die each year from obesity-related diseases (5,6). Different methods for reducing weight using reduced calorie and fat intake combined with exercise have failed to show sustained long-term effects (7–9). Recent studies from various laboratories (10,11), including our own (12), have shown that a high fat diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (ketogenic diet) is quite effective in reducing body weight and the risk factors for various chronic diseases. The ketogenic diet was originally introduced in 1920 (13). In this diet, the fat to carbohydrate ratio is 5:1. While there was a significant decrease in the weight of obese patients who were on a ketogenic diet (12), the reverse occurred when the diet changed to one high in carbohydrates (14).
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).
It’s only dangerous to not get enough carbs at each meal if one is taking too much meds or insulin for the amount of carbs they are eating! Restricting carbohydrates doesn’t lead to hypoglycemia unawareness, but having lots of lows and lots of highs will (and decreasing insulin and carbs leads to way fewer highs and fewer lows, or at least it can). On the other hand, being in ketosis does make low blood sugars less negative as an experience. I still feel my lows just fine, but they are less of an emergency because my brain still works (feeding on ketones) and by body doesn’t freak out and release tons of adrenaline that then makes me want to eat a house. Mind you, I still wake up and know immediately if I’m low, I know from experience and how it feels in my head and body but without the crazy shakes. This is not unawareness but it is less reactive.
Also, be aware that, while diet can be an extremely powerful tool to regain control over many aspects of health, diet by itself remains insufficient for full health. Just as filling up the gas tank of your car with quality gasoline helps your car run well, but other aspects of your car need attention over time (change the oil, tune-ups, new tires on occasion, etc.), so it goes with diet. We must also pay attention to vitamin D and iodine status, the potential for common endocrine disruptions such as thyroid dysfunction, efforts to cultivate bowel flora, and other issues. Focus on diet as a start, not as an end.
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.
From baseline to week 16, the mean body weight decreased significantly from 131.4 ± 18.3 kg to 122.7 ± 18.9 kg, BMI decreased from 42.2 ± 5.8 kg/m2 to 39.4 ± 6.0 kg/m2, and waist circumference from 130.0 ± 10.5 cm to 123.3 ± 11.3 cm (Table (Table3).3). The percent change in body weight was -6.6%. The mean percent body fat decreased from 40.4 ± 5.8% to 37.0 ± 6.0%. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures did not change significantly over the 16 weeks. The mean heart rate decreased from 81.2 ± 12.9 beats per minute to 74.6 ± 14.0 beats per minute (p = 0.01).
The good news here is no! All the evidence points to the fact that a low carbohydrate diet actually does lower blood glucose and A1c levels and does contribute to weight loss. The problem is we do not yet have enough large studies, over enough sustained years to support evidence that people with diabetes can remain on a highly restrictive Ketogenic Diet for the rest of their life and also not have other consequences to their health.