We recently published an article documenting the grim long-term effects of low-carbohydrate diets, in which we explain the evidence-based research showing that low-carbohydrate diets high in fat and protein including meat, dairy products, eggs, fish, and oil actually worsen diabetes health, increase cancer risk, increase cholesterol, increase atherosclerosis, harden blood vessels, and increase all-cause mortality.
You may be able to tell that you're in ketosis by a change in your breath (many report halitosis, or bad breath, due to higher levels of the ketone acetone coursing through the body). Others experience the keto flu for anywhere from one day to two weeks as the body cranks up the ketones. Symptoms of the keto flu are very similar to the influenza virus, including nausea, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. Hydrating well and starting slowly can reduce your risk for this.
As a Certified Diabetes Educator, I was taught to educate my gestational diabetes and pregnant patients with diabetes to avoid fruits and dairy before noon. I know this is hard! That’s when you all are craving that glass of orange juice, but that’s the whole point here. We need you to give up that orange juice for the next six or so months for the sake of your baby. Instead, you can have a real orange with lunch; try it with a spinach salad with tuna salad and whole wheat pita. The nutritional value is pumped up by all those vitamins and the spike on your blood glucose will be reduced dramatically by the fiber in the real fruit combined with the protein you had in your lunch. You can even have a glass of milk; you’ve included all of your necessary food groups, and you are still only at 45 carbohydrates for the whole meal!
What is the link between ketones and diabetes? Ketone is a chemical produced by the body when fats are broken down for energy. Ketone testing is important for people with diabetes, because high levels can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), when acid levels become too high in the blood and the person loses consciousness. Find out when and why to do ketone testing. Read now
Test ketones in the late morning or afternoon. Blood and urine ketones are usually lowest right after waking up. Try testing later on, preferably a few hours after eating. Even if you’re only in ketosis for a portion of the day, you’re still getting some benefits, as discussed in this talk by Dr. Steve Phinney: Achieving and maintaining nutritional ketosis.
Additionally, you may find it difficult to eat adequate calories on a daily basis because fat is so filling. Some people even opt to fast for several hours each day. While this may help with weight loss, your body needs those calories for proper maintenance. Without them, it may turn to burning muscle for energy, and that can accelerate muscle loss.
The ketogenic diet doesn’t put a cap on saturated fat or even trans fats. The latter are fats you should always avoid. Read ingredient labels and avoid any food with partially hydrogenated oils, aka trans fats. These fats heighten your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. They also raise your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
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.
Other causes of diarrhea on the keto diet include consuming a diet low in fiber (fiber helps ward off diarrhea by bulking up stool) and eating processed low-carb foods like shakes and bars that may contain sugar alcohols. These sugar alcohols can ferment in the gut and cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Yawitz suggests limiting foods labeled “sugar free” if you’re prone to gas or diarrhea when you eat them. And you may want to gradually adjust your carbs downward and your fats upward. “Also build your diet around [naturally] high-fiber, low-carb foods like avocado and nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus,” she says. Other keto-friendly ways to get more fiber include chia seeds, almonds, and coconut.
Given all the buzz, adopting a ketogenic diet may be the perfect weight loss plan, especially if you have diabetes, or want to try this approach to lose those troublesome extra pounds. After all, it’s a very low-carb meal plan that promises effective weight loss while also lowering your blood sugar to the point where you could possibly stop taking medication. By all accounts, the “keto” diet, as it’s widely known, may even reverse type 2 diabetes, at least for some lucky individuals.
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?
I suggest you or other readers who are not familiar with Dr Wahl's work and research into autoimmune disease and brain biology get a copy of 'The Wahl's Protocol'. Medicine and nutrition are ever-changing sciences and sadly we can't rely on our standard medical practioners (or registered dieticians) to share important research we should all be able to access.
While the exact mechanisms of ketones on brain health are still unclear, a 2017 paper in the journal Neurochemistry summarized what is known: ketones as fuel in the brain have been shown to enhance mitochondrial respiration, increase neuronal growth factors, strengthen the signal sent between synapses, reduce brain inflammation, and reduce oxidative stress. These effects, the paper noted, then seem to have downstream implications for a wide range of brain functional pathways.
Technically speaking, you're in ketosis when your blood ketones are higher than 0.5 mmol/L, but the optimal level for fat-burning purposes is 1.5 to 3 mmol/L. Nisevich Bede says that seasoned keto dieters report that they can actually feel a difference in this state, citing that they're less hungry and experience mental clarity once they reach ketosis.
Alison Moodie is a health reporter based in Los Angeles. She has written for numerous outlets including Newsweek, Agence France-Presse, The Daily Mail and HuffPost. For years she covered sustainable business for The Guardian. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she majored in TV news. When she's not working she's doting on her two kids and whipping up Bulletproof-inspired dishes in her kitchen.
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.
It’s very good info. Thanks. I have been doing Ketogenics for a few weeks and feel great. I really like the idea of adequate protein and not all you can eat. Now I have my husband on it and some relatives. I have been reading some good and bad articles cause now I feel responsible for all of them and what if I’m wrong and they have problems? But, I really liked your article and feel better. Thanks for busting some myths!
I’m following the ketogenic diet and I find it very easy, pleasant and varied. I can even say that my diet today is more varied than the previous one. I do not intend to leave this diet and I cannot really see why. My initial focus was not to lose weight, I’ve always been lean, but to feel better, well disposed. And I got it! I am very pleased, I have read a lot about it (including scientific literature) and I have influenced other people who need to lose weight or improve some aspects of their health. But from the beginning I went on my own way, without the help of a nutritionist because I did not want to suffer the influence of others’ ideas.
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.