Diabetics often try different diet plans to improve their fitness. Among the most popular diet plans is the ketogenic diet .
Some research suggests that the ketogenic diet can help not only to regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics, but to lose excess fat that is often linked to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome. (2,3,4)
Now, this is not to say that it is the best method for all diabetics.
This article discusses the effects of the ketogenic diet for diabetics with supporting scientific evidence.
Ketogenic diet and diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not synthesize a normal amount of insulin; or when the body becomes resistant to it.
In other words, diabetics lose the ability to maintain normal blood glucose levels . (1)
When diabetics eat foods with carbohydrates they turn into sugar and in large amounts, they can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
The ketogenic diet is a type of low-carbohydrate diet , which allows you to make a metabolic shift from your primary fuel source.
When the metabolism changes from carbohydrate-based fuels (starch and sugar) to fat-based fuels, a state called ketosis is reached . (2)
Ketosis is simply a normal metabolic pathway in which the cells of the body and brain use ketones for energy, rather than relying solely on sugar (glucose). (2)
For this reason, the ketogenic diet is said to have the potential to lower blood glucose levels and in some cases is recommended for diabetics.
Is the ketogenic diet good for diabetics?
The answer to whether the ketogenic diet is good for diabetics depends on the type of diabetes you have. In general, it is people with type 2 diabetes who do well.
If you have insulin resistance , or type 2 diabetes, you may benefit from the ketogenic diet, because your body will need and produce less insulin.
In 2008, a group of researchers conducted a 24-week study to determine the effects of the ketogenic diet in people with type 2 diabetes and obesity. (5)
At the end of the study, participants who followed the ketogenic diet saw improvements in glycemic control and reduced medication compared to those who followed a diet with carbohydrates as the main source of energy.
A review published in the journal Nature reported that the ketogenic diet can lead to more significant improvements in blood sugar control, A1c, and weight loss than other diets. (6)
A 2017 study also found that the ketogenic diet outperformed a conventional low-fat diabetes diet in terms of weight loss and A1c. (7)
In summary, there are several investigations that converge that the ketogenic diet could have benefits for type 2 diabetics.
If you are a type 1 diabetic and want to try the ketogenic diet, it is essential that you speak with your doctor first.
We remember that for any type of diabetic , it is a good idea to work closely with your doctor, as your medication may need to be changed.
Possible side effects of the keto diet for diabetics
Now the theory seems simple but the ketogenic diet also has some side effects for diabetics that are worth knowing:
- Hypoglycemia – Although diet can lower blood sugar levels, it can mean that they drop too low, particularly if you are also taking diabetes medications.
- Heart disease s – The ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet. Eating too much saturated fat (bacon and butter) could raise cholesterol levels, which is linked to heart disease. What could be enhanced for diabetics. To avoid this make sure you eat healthy fat sources like avocados, tree nuts, canola and olive oil.
- Lack of Nutrients – Given the ketogenic diet many foods are forbidden, including fruits and vegetables you could miss out on the important nutrients you would get from them. Work with a nutritionist familiar with the keto diet to make sure your body is getting what it needs.
- Constipation – a side effect that can occur from not eating enough fiber foods, such as whole grains and legumes. You can add bran and green leaves to avoid it.
- Gallstones – If you lose weight quickly, you are more likely to have gallstones. Some foods, like those high in fiber and those with healthy fats , may help you prevent them. Talk to your doctor about other ways to avoid gallbladder problems.
- The ketogenic diet is an eating method that may have benefits for diabetics, some studies recommend this method to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the percentage of body fat .
- However, generalizing that the keto diet is good for all diabetic types is not correct.
- In general, a low carbohydrate or very low carbohydrate diet works well in type 2 diabetics. Research is not yet conclusive in type I diabetics.
- All types of diabetics are advised to consult a physician or nutritionist with knowledge of ketosis before beginning. Going on the ketogenic diet could mean a change in medication.
- The ketogenic diet can have side effects , to avoid them it should be planned by a health professional.