The Keto Diet for Diabetes - Hope or Hype?

More and more research is being done into the effect of a keto diet for diabetes people with obesity or diabetes. The results are promising and often better than from a conventional low-fat diet

keto diet for diabetes

Maximum 50 grams of carbohydrates

With a ketogenic diet, carbohydrate intake is between 20 and 50 grams per day. As a result, insulin production decreases, the body switches to fat burning and the liver forms ketones from fatty acids, which serve as fuel for at least the brain. These ketones could also be responsible for a reduced feeling of hunger. This is often reported in people who follow a ketogenic diet.

Greater weight loss

A ketogenic diet is associated with greater weight loss in research than a low-fat diet. For example, weight loss from a ketogenic diet was 9.7 percent and from a low-fat diet only 2.1 percent in a recent 8-week randomized study of 34 obese elderly people. This is in line with an earlier meta-analysis of 13 randomized studies among more than 1200 participants who followed a ketogenic diet or a low-fat diet for at least one year.

New research

The American Framingham State University will start a new 3-year study into the ketogenic diet of overweight or obese people this summer. The ketogenic diet is compared with a low-fat diet with few or many added sugars. According to Prof. David , one of the main researchers, a ketogenic diet has a different effect on metabolism than other diets. In earlier research, he discovered that a low-fat diet reduces resting metabolism by more than 400 kcal / day, while a ketogenic diet did not show a significant decrease. "The quality of the calories eaten can therefore influence the amount of calories that are burned."

Beneficial effect on diabetes

The ketogenic diet also shows a beneficial effect on type 2 diabetes, according to the  study from the University of California among 262 people with type 2 diabetes. After 10 weeks not only the weight has fallen by an average of 7.2 percent, but there are also improvements in insulin sensitivity. The percentage of participants with HbA1c values ​​below 48 mmol / mol increased from 20 to 56 percent. Diabetes medication could be reduced or stopped in 57 percent of the participants. After 6 months, 89 percent of the participants were still on the diet and the weight loss was on average 12 percent. The study runs for a total of 5 years and the 1-year figures will be published shortly.

Good for the heart and blood vessels?

You might not expect it from a diet that contains a lot of fat and saturated fat, but according to experts, the ketogenic diet also seems to be beneficial for heart and blood vessels. Triglyceride levels and blood pressure decrease and HDL cholesterol levels rise. Although the LDL cholesterol level rises, there seems to be a shift from harmful small LDL particles to less harmful large LDL particles. According to Dr. Rick Hecht, research director at the University of California, the possible disadvantages of saturated fat far outweigh the benefits of reducing with carbohydrates.

No do-it-yourself diet

Experts emphasize that the ketogenic diet is not something that people can follow on their own. Guidance is needed when putting together the diet and supervision of a doctor is desirable if people use diabetes medication or blood pressure lowers. The carbohydrate restriction is not always necessary for life. When the target weight has been reached, the amount of carbohydrates can usually increase again. The maximum amount of carbohydrates without regaining weight varies from person to person.

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  1. It's a shame that there is so much focus on Diabetes Type 2 in regards to Keto! As a Type 1 Diabetic (pancreas doesn't make insulin, and it's unrelated to lifestyle choices), I have struggled to control blood sugars EXCEPT for when I go keto (see for explanation of the differences in diabetes types).

    When I use a Keto diet as a Type 1 Diabetic, here is what I notice:

    1.The amount of insulin (a.k.a needles) I need to take each day DRASTICALLY drops. I go from 70ml of long lasting (once a day) and three-to-four short acting injections of 10-50ml down to a SINGLE 10ml long lasting insulin injection (so basically, from five injections a day to one). I haven't been able to replicate this effect any other way.

    2.The stability of my blood sugar levels is fantastic. In non-keto, my blood sugars are a roller coaster ride of ups-and-downs as I attempt to constantly meet my carbohydrate intake. In Keto mode, my blood sits right in the middle of the target range consistently, without dips or bumps. I haven't been able to replicate this effect any other way.

    3.Dangerous hypo's disappear. If I miss a meal (e.g. stuck in a meeting at work), am extra stressed (probably work again) or play sport, my blood is still stable, and I don't hypo. In non-keto, missing a meal or any of these activities can drop my blood sugar levels to points where I can be an inch from death. I haven't been able to replicate this effect any other way.

    4.Cholesterol and blood pressure levels go down to excellent levels.

    I'm not a massive advocate of keto or anything (I think it's actually hard to do and maintain), but cannot sing it's praise enough in terms of what it does for me an my diabetes management (noting that I probably would not do it at all if I wasn't Diabetic).