Is The Ketogenic Diet Safe For People With Diabetes?

You must have heard about ketogenic diet and how it is extremely useful for fat loss and weight loss at the same time without losing on the lean muscle mass. Also known as the keto diet in many places, the main aim of this diet is to help in losing weight in the most effective manner. Studies are being done to understand the effectiveness of keto diet on diabetes.

keto diet

What is keto diet?

The ketogenic diet or the keto diet as it is called is a low-carb diet, where only 5% daily calorie intake takes place from carbohydrates. It is actually a low-carb but high-fat diet. Instead of carbohydrates the fats are burnt for production of energy in the body as ketosis is stimulated with this diet. You might not know but majority of the things that we eat contain fats. It can be unsaturated fat in the form of avocadoes, seeds and nuts or saturated fat in the form of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter. Along with fat, protein also makes up almost 20-30% of the diet in fat form or lean form. In a keto diet, a person consumes less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.

The keto diet works by stimulating the process of ketosis in the body. Generally, the body derives energy from burning of carbohydrates, available in the form of glucose or sugar. When on keto diet, carbohydrate intake in strictly limited or even stopped in many cases. In such situations, the body starts burning the deposited fats from different parts of the body for energy production. This is termed as nutritional ketosis. Initially the keto diet was planned as a part of treatment for epilepsy, but now this diet has been proved effective for treatment of type 2 diabetes as well.

Understanding the concept of ‘high-fat’ in the ketogenic diet

It has been seen that many people who suffer from type 2 diabetes are overweight. As a result the keto diet seems to be very effective for them. The ambition of ketogenic diet is having the body use stored fat for energy production instead of carbohydrates. However, the diet also does not mean that you can consume as much as saturated fats. There are some good fats, also known as heart-healthy fats, which can be consumed for maintaining overall good health. In ketogenic diet, you can eat some kinds of fats which include the likes of:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Olive and olive oil
  • Salmon
  • Different kinds of seeds
  • Avocado
  • Nuts and nut butter

Diabetes and keto diet – what does research say?

Since keto diet has limited carbohydrates, hence it helps in lowering blood sugar levels successfully. A study was done for confirming this (1). Overweight people who also had diabetes type 2 were put on low carbohydrate ketogenic diet and it was seen that they lost weight quite quickly within a span of few weeks only. If the diet is maintained well, it brings in great results over a period of time.

How are blood sugar levels affected by keto diet?

The whole concept of ketogenic diet and diabetes type 2 is clear and simple. When little amount of carbohydrates enter the body, less insulin is required by the body for processing of the sugar or the glucose content. As a result, there is minimal spike in blood sugar levels in the body. This helps in controlling blood sugar levels on the long run and helps in combating the problem of diabetes type 2 in best manner. When blood sugar level spikes are less, it leads to better A1C values as well.

In many other research and study reports it has also been seen that keto diet helps in improving insulin sensitivity (2, 3). The amount of insulin that is produced in the body is enough for keeping blood sugar levels under proper control. There is no need to administer insulin injections from outside for blood sugar control.

Medical professionals and health experts opine that if one can adhere strictly to ketogenic diet, it an excellent way of managing blood sugar levels. The swings will begin dissipating, the A1C levels will see a considerable drop and most importantly, the trendlines which are seen on CGMs will gradually flatten. People who have had followed keto diet for blood sugar opined that they had the best A1C reading while they were on this diet.

Adjusting to the keto diet in the beginning might not be a cakewalk for all. One very important thing that needs to be done is to monitor the blood sugar levels on regular basis to understand the exact position. Many people might see that the blood sugar levels have dropped to normal with the keto diet. Taking the diet further might lead to fall of blood sugar levels further leading to problems. In such an instance, the carbohydrate intake has to be increased a little for few days until the sugar levels come to normal. Initially it might be a little trial and error method but it gets adjusted on the long run quite well.

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Talk to doctor before starting keto diet for diabetic patients

For diabetic people, maintaining a proper diet is very essential. As a result, if you are planning to make a change in the diet plan and thinking of including keto diet, it is recommended to seek medical approval for the same. You must talk to your doctor and understand the pros and cons of the diet and only then start the same.

Some minor problems might crop up but they are easy to handle. But if you are a diabetic patient and overweight on that, there is no better treatment for you than following a ketogenic diet. With losing weight and diabetes control at the same time, you can be a little safe from various kinds of heart ailments and cardiovascular problems. Best thing is that you will not need to cut down on your favorite foods, but still reap the benefits from this magical diet schedule. Start now and you can see the results soon!

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