The ketogenic diet is a type of low-carb diet that allows reducing blood sugar levels. Is it good for diabetics?
Diabetics often try different diet plans to improve their physical condition. The keto diet sits among the most popular diet plans.
Some research indicates that the keto diet can help balance the blood sugar levels in diabetics, and it can also help reduce the excess fat that is usually related to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and the metabolic syndrome. (2,3,4)
Now, this doesn’t mean the keto diet is the best method for all diabetics.
This article discusses the effects of the keto diet on diabetics, referring to scientific evidence.
Keto diet and diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas isn’t able to 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 carbs, they turn into sugar and in large amounts they can make blood sugar levels peak.
The keto diet is a type of low-carb diet, which allows a metabolic primary fuel source switch.
When metabolism switches from carb-based fuels (starch and sugar) to fat-based fuels, a state called ketosis is attained. (2)
Ketosis is simply a normal metabolic pathway in which body and brain cells use ketones to produce energy, rather than relying solely on sugar (glucose). (2)
For this reason, the keto diet is said to have the potential to lower blood glucose levels and in some cases it’s recommended for diabetics.
Is the keto diet good for diabetics?
The answer to the question whether the keto diet is good for diabetics depends on the type of diabetes from which they suffer.
In general, people with type 2 diabetes have the best results.
People with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes may benefit from the keto diet because their bodies will need and produce less insulin.
In 2008, a group of researchers conducted a 24-week study to determine the effects of the keto diet on people with type 2 diabetes and obesity. (5)
At the end of the study, participants who ate the keto diet saw improvements in glycemic control and reduced medication compared to those who ate a diet with carbohydrates as the main energy source.
A review published in Nature, reported that the keto diet might lead to further specific improvements in blood sugar control, A1c, and weight loss than other diets. (6)
A 2017 study also found that the keto diet outperformed a conventional diet for low-fat diabetes in terms of weight loss and A1c. (7)
In summary, much of the research agrees on the fact that the keto diet could have benefits for type 2 diabetics.
If you suffer from type 1 diabetes and want to try the keto diet, it’s essential that you speak to your doctor first.
It’s useful to remember that for any type of diabetes, it’s a good idea to work closely with your doctor, since you may need to change your medication.
Possible side effects of the keto diet on diabetics
Now, the theory seems simple but the keto diet also has some side effects on diabetics, which are worth talking about:
- Hypoglycemia – Although this diet can lower blood sugar levels, the latter can drop too low, particularly if you’re also taking diabetes medication.
- Heart disease – The keto diet is a high fat diet. If you eat too much saturated fat (bacon and butter), that could raise bad cholesterol levels which are linked to heart disease. This could be magnified in diabetics. To avoid this, make sure to eat healthy sources of fat such as avocados, nuts, canola and olive oil.
- Lack of Nutrients – Since many foods are restricted in the keto diet, including fruits and vegetables, you could miss out on the important nutrients you would get from them. Consult a nutritionist who is familiar with the keto diet to make sure your body gets what it needs.
- Constipation – A side effect can be the insufficient consumption of fiber foods, such as whole grains and legumes. You can add bran and green leave vegetables to avoid it.
- Gallstones – If you lose weight quickly, you’re more likely to suffer from gallstones. Some foods, like those high in fiber and those high in healthy fats, may help prevent them. Talk to your doctor about other ways to avoid gallbladder problems.
- The keto diet is a diet regime that can have benefits for diabetics; some studies recommend this regime to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the percentage of body fat.
- However, generalizing that the keto diet is good for all diabetes types isn’t correct.
- In general, a low-carb diet has good results on type 2 diabetics. In type I diabetes, the research isn’t yet conclusive.
- People suffering from different types of diabetes are advised to consult a doctor or nutritionist with ketosis knowledge before starting. Taking up the keto diet could mean a medication change.
- The keto diet can have side effects; in order to avoid them you must plan it along with a health professional.
1.Guía de práctica clínica sobre diabetes tipo 2.
2.KETOGENIC DIET IN THE MANAGEMENT OF DIABETES.
3.Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.
4.A carbohydrate-reduced high-protein diet improves HbA1c and liver fat content in weight stable participants with type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial.
5.The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus.
6.Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets.
7.An Online Intervention Comparing a Very Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations Versus a Plate Method Diet in Overweight Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
Date: April 15th, 2020
By: Gonzalo Paredes
Nutrigenomics Institute is not responsible for the comments and opinions included in this article