Ketogenic diets have been shown to be highly effective at controlling weight, maintaining steady blood glucose levels and helping to reduce the reliance on medication for people who suffer from diabetes. The American Diabetes Association Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a diet that is similar in some ways to the ketogenic diet. The diets recommended are low in carbohydrates and high in fibers with plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. A true ketogenic diet is much lower in carbohydrates and research seems to suggest that a ketogenic diet can reverse Type 2 Diabetes and control the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes. With so much to gain, it makes sense to explore the options available for a diabetic who wants to attempt a ketogenic diet.
The Keto Diet
A ketogenic diet is intended to severely restrict the number of carbohydrates so that the individual enters a state of ketosis. Getting into ketosis, especially for a diabetic, can be difficult, but once the individual reaches this state they will benefit from more consistent energy and increased levels of fat burning.
It's important to note that the ketogenic diet can help those who suffer from both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but it is not intended to be used by any individual who also has kidney disease. The ketogenic diet can initially put a greater strain on the kidneys so the diet can put those at risk in greater danger. The diet should also not be attempted by pregnant women, nursing women or those who have Gestational Diabetes.
The main issue with the diet is remaining consistent. If you have diabetes and enter into a ketogenic diet with the support of your physician, you'll need to maintain the diet to prevent getting knocked out of ketosis and starting all over again. It's a serious diet, but the benefits of the ketogenic diet can promote a remarkable change in your life.
A typical ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrates to 5 to 10 percent of the daily caloric intake. Protein should remain right around 20 to 25 percent. Fat should be the highest macronutrient at 75 percent. Maintaining these macronutrient restrictions will have you in ketosis within a month in most cases. Some people will enter ketosis much more quickly, but it depends in part on your own level of health and body composition.
Types of Diabetes
There are a few important types of diabetes that are relevant to a discussion on ketogenic diets and diabetes. Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes all have their own mechanisms and responses to medications. Understanding the type of diabetes you have or are concerned about is the first step toward treating your diabetes with a keto diet.
Diabetes is a condition that affects the healthy functioning of the pancreas. The disease can be fatal when left untreated, and it's a serious condition that results in the inability of the body to produce insulin or use it when it is produced. Insulin is simply a hormone that helps to maintain proper blood glucose levels. People who have diabetes end up having high blood glucose levels, which can cause harm to the organs, nerves and blood vessels of the body. In a healthy individual, sugar is burned and used as a quick form of energy. Since a diabetic lacks insulin or can't use insulin properly, the sugar is unable to be used effectively as an energy source.
Type 1 Diabetes
The good news is that Type 1 diabetes is rare. It affects less than 10 percent of all individuals who suffer from diabetes. With this kind of diabetes, the immune system attacks and kills important cells in the pancreas. As a result, the individual is unable to supply the body with insulin. Since insulin is required to utilize sugar as an energy source, blood glucose levels increase and the individual risks damaging important components of the body. Most people who get Type 1 begin to develop in when they are children or teenagers. The condition less rarely develops in adulthood.
Type 2 Diabetes
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, with Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is able to produce insulin in most cases. The problem is that the body does not produce enough insulin. As with Type 1 diabetes, blood glucose levels begin to rise and the individual is at risk of causing serious damage to their body. This type of diabetes is sometimes able to be managed through diet and exercise and insulin injections are not always needed to adequately control blood sugar levels. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, this condition usually develops in adulthood, but children may also be at risk.
This type of diabetes is temporary and comes about as the result of pregnancy. It affects a very small percentage of pregnancies, and it can lead to the development of diabetes for both the pregnant mother and her child. While the ketogenic diet can have a dramatic effect on blood glucose levels and treat insulin sensitivity, this diet is not suitable for anyone who is nursing or pregnant.
A woman who is pregnant needs a large number of vitamins, carbohydrates and other nutrients that are essential to the proper development of a growing child. This means that women who are nursing should also not attempt this diet. The Diabetes Council maintains a comprehensive resource page for women who have Gestational Diabetes that is worth taking the time to review if you are pregnant or nursing.
Studies on Keto and Diabetes
Numerous studies have been conducted to attempt to determine the role that a keto diet can play in the management of diabetes. Researchers conducted a 24-week study in 2008 to determine how suitable this diet was for people who were obese and who suffered from Type 2 diabetes. The result was that people saw better overall glycemic control and were able to reduce their levels of medications. Many studies like this have been completed, and when a ketogenic diet is used alongside the support of a doctor, it can greatly improve your life.
Another study completed in 2017 found that the ketogenic diet was superior to the conventional diet that is advocated for people who have diabetes. The traditional diet suggests that a diabetic should maintain a low-fat diet. This study lasted for 32 weeks, and it showed dramatically improved blood glucose levels and overall health than the traditional diet.
There are numerous studies on the ketogenic diet, and individuals who want to reduce their reliance on medications may be able to take advantage of these benefits. With so much research completed on how ketogenic diets affect an individuals health and fitness, it's important to remember that these diets are only safe if you are healthy enough to undertake them.
Ketogenic Diets Help Improve Health
Other research studies have found similar results. The main take away from the available research is that a ketogenic diet can help you to reduce weight, improve your blood sugar levels and may make it possible to reduce or even eliminate the need for medications. Most of the research that is available focuses on individuals who have Type 2 diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, it's must riskier to undertake a ketogenic diet.
Type 1 Diabetes Risks and Doctor Intervention
Those who have Type 1 diabetes are at a greater risk of entering a state known as diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition is not ketosis, and it can be life threatening. For this reason, an individual who has Type 1 diabetes needs to take extra care when attempting a ketogenic diet.
Working with your doctor to control and adjust your medications is essential. When you enter ketosis, your blood sugar levels will begin to drop, which means you'll have less need for insulin medications. If you don't adjust your levels of insulin based on your progress, then the diet won't be effective and may even put you at risk of developing other issues.
The Outlook for Diabetes
While there are numerous studies, one thing that is still not known is the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet on diabetes. While the research seems to suggest that this is a good diet to help manage your blood sugar levels and control your diabetes, it should only be attempted as a way of improving your overall level of health. If your diabetes is controlled in the process, that's a great bonus. However, it's also important to stay on top of your diabetes and make sure you don't expect your diet to solve the problem for you.
Blood Glucose Levels
High blood glucose levels are one of the biggest risk factors for an individual who has diabetes. The high blood glucose levels make it difficult for an individual to function properly. Since managing your carbohydrate levels can make it possible to reduce a number of carbohydrates that get turned into sugar, the ketogenic diet can help improve your overall level of health. Many people who decide to try the ketogenic diet and switch to a high-fat, low-carb diet have found less need for medication and better management of systems. However, the people who stand to benefit the most are those who have Type 2 diabetes.
A study conducted in 2008 showed that dietary modifications using a ketogenic diet were able to improve glycemic control. It also reduced and in some cases eliminated the need for medication to control blood glucose levels in many of the participants. The conclusion of the study was that when individuals made the appropriate lifestyle and carbohydrate interventions, they were able to improve and in some cases reverse Type 2 diabetes.
As mentioned, a ketogenic diet can provide an impressive option for reducing and eliminating the need for medication for people who have diabetes. A ketogenic diet may also reduce the risk factors for people who may develop diabetes later on down the road. Since people who maintain ketogenic diets also tend to have less fat, they are less at risk for developing diabetes later on down the line.
One of the most impressive studies to date was conducted with the support of the Diabetes Prevention Program. In this incredible study, over 1,000 people who were diagnosed as pre diabetic were followed and monitored. The program demonstrated that through proper diet and exercise, more than half of the participants were able to stop the progression of their pre-diabetic symptoms. The program didn't require that the participants severally restrict their carbohydrate levels, but there is growing evidence to suggest that the keto diet may be an optimal diet for diabetics.
While there still needs to be more research into the impact of a ketogenic diet on diabetes, it's well known that a ketogenic diet reduces the reliance on carbohydrates and reduces overall levels of sugar in the body. Because of this, the diet offers a suitable choice for people who are trying to improve their overall level of health.
Since research has shown that a reduction in carbohydrates can lower your blood glucose levels, it's not probable that the ketogenic diet could cause diabetes. There is a blood test that is given to estimate a patients average blood sugar levels over the last two to three months. The test has many names, but it is commonly referred to as the A1c test. Essentially, it's just a test that determines your average level of glucose day in and out.
The A1c test is important for people who have diabetes because it determines how many red blood cells have sugar attached to them. This is important because a high A1c result indicates that your levels of sugar are dangerously high. Many of the symptoms include fatigue and low levels of energy, a feeling of thirst, dry skin and weight loss that comes on unexpectedly. It's also possible to have blurred vision, tingling in the extremities and cuts may take longer to heal.
The evidence and research suggest that a low-carbohydrate diet can help to lower A1c levels. This is good news for people who can maintain a ketogenic diet for an extended period of time. While this indicates that the ketogenic diet can have a real impact on those who are concerned with developing diabetes, the diet itself must be maintained to enjoy the long-term effects.
Monitoring Diabetes in Ketosis
If you're serious about starting a ketogenic diet, it's not a bad idea to talk with your doctor and start your diet in a hospital or dedicated care facility. Since someone who has diabetes is at greater risk of complications from the diet, it's important that your doctor has the ability to closely monitor your situation. If you're pre-diabetic, a hospital stay isn't likely to be needed. However, in the initial stages, the continual monitoring can ensure that there aren't any adverse effects from starting the diet.
Staying in ketosis can help with diabetes, but it's important to realize that a ketogenic diet shouldn't be thought of as a cure. Monitoring your diabetes is still important. Your doctor can help you determine how often to check your levels. The longer you stay on the diet, the more likely you are to need less monitoring. The mistake many people make is that as the symptoms improve, they begin to feel that they can stop monitoring their condition.
Once your body does adjust to the new diet, you should see your doctor on a fairly regular schedule to ensure that you are getting the right levels of medication and that your body is still functioning in a healthy way. For most people, a doctor's visit every two to three months after managing the condition should be enough.
Optimal Foods for Diabetes
Diabetics should carefully choose the foods they eat on a ketogenic diet. If you do ingest carbohydrates, you should aim to look for foods that have a low glycemic index. Even though ketosis should adequately maintain your blood glucose levels, low glycemic index foods can also help you avoid a spike in blood sugar. It's also important to make sure you're getting your fats from healthy sources. Reducing your intake of partially hydrogenated fats is especially important. Aim for olive oil and coconut oil in your cooking regimen.
Making dietary changes is a crucial step toward managing your diabetes. There is ample evidence to suggest that the ketogenic diet is a highly effective way to control your diabetes. Since the prospects for reducing and potentially eliminating your reliance on medications is so high, it's crucial that you consult with your doctor to find out if you are healthy and a good candidate for a ketogenic diet. If starting a ketogenic diet is too restrictive, you can gradually decrease your level of carbohydrates until you are ready for the ketogenic lifestyle.