How The Ketogenic Diet Works For Type 2 Diabetes
The ketogenic diet, commonly referred to as the keto diet, is a way of eating that focuses on consuming low-carb, high-fat foods. The goal of the keto diet is to change the way that your body stores and uses fat. Normally, your body will use glucose from carbs as energy. In the keto diet, your body is depleted of glucose and therefore is forced to extract energy from body fat or fat thats consumed. In this state of nutritional ketosis, your body relies on fatty acid substances called ketones for energy extraction. Here, well discuss how the ketogenic diet works for type 2 diabetes.
Whats The Difference Between Ketosis And Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Youll also want to make sure youre taking in a balance of nutrients all those important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more as well as the proper amount of calories and healthy keto-friendly fats. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats and omega-3s, which may help reduce inflammation in the body and improve cholesterol levels, says White. Look to fatty fish like salmon for omega-3s and avocado, almonds, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds for monounsaturated fats.
If youre not sure what to reach for, ask your dietitian. While this sounds so simple, often people are only thinking about what not to eat, says Zanini. They don’t pay attention to the nutritious foods they should be including, like nonstarchy vegetables, healthy monounsaturated fats, lean proteins, and more. Dont have a dietitian? You can find one who is a certified diabetes educator through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
How A Ketogenic Diet Works
On a ketogenic diet, blood glucose levels are kept at a low but healthy level which encourages the body to break down fat into a fuel source known as ketones
The process of breaking down or burning body fat is known as ketosis
People on insulin will typically require smaller doses of insulin which leads to less risk of large dosing errors.
The diet helps burn body fat and therefore has particular advantages for those looking to lose weight, including people with prediabetes or those otherwise at risk of type 2 diabetes.
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Should A Diabetic Person Try Keto Diet
It is strictly advised to consult the doctor before trying the keto diet. In some cases, the keto diet works as a boon but in some cases, it makes diabetes worse. Therefore, stay in touch with the doctor and follow it only when recommended by him. In the initial days, the keto diet can make a person weak. You will also need to stay careful when you stop following the keto diet as adding carbs back can rapidly increase blood sugar levels and make you gain some weight.
The Keto diet should also be taken up in consultation with the doctor as it can produce both, positive and negative, results. Initially, a person may feel weakness for a few days. If you stop the keto diet, you should return to a normal diet gradually as starting heavy carbohydrate consumption may lead to increased blood sugar levels and rapid weight gain.
Don’t Jump At The Good News Too Quickly
“First, the studies are too small to make sense of the differences between the groups,” says Michael J Gonzalez-Campoy, MD, PhD, medical director and CEO of the Minnesota Center for Obesity, Metabolism, and Endocrinology, in Eagan, Minnesota.
And, it’s important to recognize that both study teams acknowledge that as exciting as their findings seem, a large, randomized controlled trial is still needed to more closely assess a variety of components that may be contributing to the successes found in both studies before the findings can be recommended to anyone outside the study groups1,2 he says.
“We recommend against ‘dieting’, which is invariably a short-term solution,” Dr. Gonzalez-Campoy, tells EndocrineWeb, “and since weight loss may be accomplished by a reduction in calories by any means, a ketogenic diet that restricts carbs is simply shifting the calories away from foods that typically demand insulin as in both of these studies.1,2
Instead, the recommendations for diabetes and weight management, he says, are:
- control portions
- emphasize freshnessfresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and waterwith each meal
The study deficiencies reinforce the need to avoid encouraging the concept of a “diet” for long-term management of chronic diseases such as diabetes since there are many factors involved in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and parameters like serum glucose, HbA1c, and blood lipids, Dr. Gonzalez-Campoy says.
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Is Keto Safe If You Have Diabetes
That depends on the type of diabetes you have. In general, people with type 2 who are overweight seem to get good results safely. If you have type 1 and want to try the keto diet, itâs essential that you talk to your doctor first. Youâll need to carefully monitor your health and watch for signs of ketoacidosis. For either type, itâs a good idea to work closely with your doctor, since you may need to change your medications.
The keto diet has some side effects that are worth knowing about, too:
Hypoglycemia: Though the diet can lower A1c levels, that may mean youâre at a higher risk of blood sugar that dips too low, especially if youâre also taking medicine for your diabetes. Let your doctor or diabetes educator know if you try the keto diet. They can advise you about checking your blood sugar, taking your medicines, and what to do when your blood sugar drops too low.
Lack of nutrients: Since many foods are off-limits, including some fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, you could miss out on the important nutrients youâd get from them. Work with a nutritionist familiar with nutritional ketosis to make sure your body gets what it needs.
Liver and kidney problems: These organs help your body process fat and protein. Some experts worry that the keto diet could overwork them. Others say that if your organs are healthy, youâre probably fine.
Constipation: Since youâre not eating foods like whole grains and beans, you could miss key sources of fiber.
How To Follow A Ketogenic Diet
Based on the understanding that carbohydrate is the macronutrient that raises blood glucose the most, the primary goal of a ketogenic diet is to keep consumption lower than that of a traditional low carbohydrate diet with moderate protein and a very high fat content.
This will determine the nutrient density of the ketogenic diet as well as how to follow it, as different foods will have different effects on insulin and blood sugar levels.
There are a number of different types of ketogenic diet with variations in the level of carbohydrates and protein allowed in the diet and/or the amount of time someone is looking to spend in ketosis.
Note that some of the types of ketogenic have been designed specifically for people that are athletes or are otherwise working out very hard and often.
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How Keto Helps With Type 2 Diabetes
Generally, if you’re following the keto diet, you’re eating less than 50 grams of carbs per day. Some versions of the diet call for an even smaller amount around 20 or 30 grams of carbs per day, says Hamdy. For comparison, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans puts the recommended daily carb intake at somewhere between 225 and 325 grams per day.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics describes how the diet works like this: With carbs pretty much out of the picture, the body needs another way to fuel itself. So, it uses fat, which is broken down into ketones and these ketones become the body’s primary energy source. Once that happens, your body enters ketosis. “Ketosis indicates that the body switched its fuel source to stored fat,” says Hamdy.
The good news for diabetes? Since blood glucose levels are lower when carb intake is less and ketones don’t increase blood glucose levels, diabetes is better kept in control, says Hamdy.
The fact that ketones don’t increase blood glucose levels, combined with eating a low-carb diet that also helps keep glucose levels lower, could help explain why research points to the positive effect of the keto diet on type 2 diabetes.
But if you do have type 2 diabetes, your doctor should be monitoring you while you’re on the keto diet. That’s in part because ketone levels that are too high can be dangerous changing the degree of blood acidity, and possibly leading to conditions like cardiac arrhythmia, says Hamdy.
The Atkins Diet And Diabetes
The Atkins diet is one of the most famous low-carb, high-protein diets thats often associated with the keto diet. However, the two diets have some major differences.
Dr. Robert C. Atkins created the Atkins diet in the 1970s. Its often promoted as a way to lose weight that also controls numerous health issues, including type 2 diabetes.
While cutting excess carbs is a healthy step, its not clear if this diet alone can help diabetes. Weight loss of any kind is beneficial for diabetes and high blood sugar levels, whether its from the Atkins diet or another program.
Unlike the keto diet, the Atkins diet doesnt necessarily advocate increased fat consumption. Still, you might increase your fat intake by limiting carbohydrates and eating more animal protein.
The potential drawbacks are similar.
Aside from a high saturated fat intake, theres the possibility of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, from restricting carbs too much. This is especially true if you take medications that increase insulin levels in the body and dont change your dosage.
Cutting carbs on the Atkins diet can potentially aid weight loss and help you control diabetes symptoms. However, there arent enough studies to suggest that Atkins and diabetes control go hand-in-hand.
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The Keto Diet And Type 1 Diabetes
Are you wondering if you can safely try the keto diet while living with type 1 diabetes? As it turns out, there isnt a straightforward answer to this question. Instead, youll need to be aware of various risks and precautions before starting this diet.
Studies show that the keto diet can significantly lower blood sugar levels and improve levels of A1C in people with type 1 diabetes. Still, theres a catch the diet can cause blood sugar in some people with diabetes to become too low. Complications from low blood sugar can range from confusion to a loss of consciousness, so you might need to adjust your insulin dosage to avoid this.
Keto can also help people lose weight but weight loss isnt desired or safe for everyone with diabetes. If youre underweight or have other health concerns related to losing weight, the keto diet may not suit you.
Finally, its important to remember the differences between diabetic ketoacidosis and nutritional ketosis. Nutritional ketosis refers to the state where a keto diet encourages the body to produce ketones from fat in the liver while using fat as its primary fuel source. As part of this process, ketone levels in the bloodstream rise.
Fat Is A Source Of Energy That Does Not Raise Your Blood Sugar
Unlike carbs or protein, fat cannot be broken down or converted into glucose efficiently. Furthermore, fat does not require insulin to get into cells to be used for energy, thereby bypassing the problem of insulin resistance. In fact, high insulin levels impair the bodyâs ability to use fat for fuel, driving it instead into fat cells for storage.
To adapt your metabolism to using fat as your main source of energy, dietary carbohydrates must be reduced to below your unique tolerance level. When you do this, your blood insulin level will come down, giving your body increased ability to burn both the fats you eat and those which you have in storage. For most people, this means switching from the standard recommended high carb, moderate protein, and low fat diet to a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet. Fat adaptation does not happen overnightâit can take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks for most of its benefits to occur, and possibly longer for the full benefits to occur.
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Is The Keto Diet Safe
Starting in the 1970s, when the Atkins Diet book was first published, low-carb diets have caught the attention of many people trying to lose weight and improve their health. The ketogenic diet , which is both very low in carbohydrates and also very high in fats, has become one of the most talked-about diets in the past several years. With its rise in popularity, its no surprise that the keto diet has recently been the focus of dozens of research studies.
Based on what we know from the available research, is the keto diet safe? The evidence is clear that the KD can reliably help to treat obesity and improve insulin resistance, but the long-term impact of the KD on cardiovascular risk factors, liver disease and glucose tolerance is more controversial. Experts agree that genetics seem to play a role in how different people respond to the KD, meaning some may be more likely to thrive on very low-carb diets, while others are more susceptible to developing side effects.
Below well cover the pros and cons of the keto diet in terms of safety, and discuss tips for reducing the chances that the KD will lead to adverse effects.
The Theory Behind Using A Keto Diet For Weight Loss
Proponents of using a keto diet for weight loss argue that eating carbs drives up insulin production, which increases hunger and causes the body to hold on to fat and suppress calorie burn. When you replace carbs with fat, you decrease the need for insulin, subdue hunger, boost calorie burn, and melt away fat.
Many people also report fat as very satiating, making them full. The same goes for protein. When you feel full, you eat fewer calories and have fewer cravings. When you are at a healthy caloric deficit, you are primed to lose unwanted pounds.
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What The Science Says
Several comprehensive studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated that after a few months or even a year of a low carb diet versus a moderate/high carb diet, there are no significant differences in the amount of weight lost . I will say, however, most of these diets are NOT keto and are simply lower carb . Also, long-term effects are not often studied due to budgetary constraints, so interpret results as you wish.
Verdict: A keto diet is not inherently better for weight loss than other diets but can be very effective if it:
- Helps you manage your blood sugar better than other diets
- Is easier for you to follow than other diets
- Works for your general lifestyle
As with most other diets, the main criteria for success is whether or not you can follow the diet for the long term. If you like the keto lifestyle, the diet works great. If you hate it, it probably wont work for you.
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The Difference Between A Keto Diet And A Diabetes Diet
While keto is one of the most well-known low-carb diets today, it is not the only option for people with diabetes. Youll likely be better off working with a registered dietician and your healthcare team to create the perfect diet for your own needs.
The team at US MED recently put together an article featuring some diabetes-related dietary tips. We encouraged people with diabetes to:
Focus on eating nutritious vegetables and proteins. Fruits generally have more carbs than vegetables, but they can still be healthy.
Avoid overeating carbohydrates but continue to eat some foods in this category. Whole grains such as oatmeal or brown rice are good choices processed grains are not.
Keep fats, oils, and sweets to the bare minimum to avoid weight gain since this can cause problems related to diabetes management.
A diet created with these tips in mind wont be as restrictive as the keto diet, and it may be the better option for people with diabetes overall.
The Difference Between Keto And Atkins
Since both the keto diet and the Atkins diet focus on consuming fewer carbs, many people get confused between the two. However, theyre quite different at the core. Both diets have the potential to help manage type 2 diabetes, but the Atkins diet focuses on low-carb, high-protein intake while the keto diet focuses on low-carb, high-fat intake. The Atkins diet does not discuss increasing fat intake and there are fewer studies regarding its benefit in controlling type 2 diabetes.
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