The Keto diet explained for Type 2 Diabetes
What is Keto
The Ketogenic (keto) diet, high in fat and low in carbs, can change the way your body stores and uses energy, easing diabetes symptoms.
With the keto diet, your body converts fat, instead of sugar, into energy. While it can be very well argued that keto is our first and primal diet, the modern understanding and use of the keto was in 1924 as a treatment for epilepsy. It has now been largely accepted and studied that the effects are beneficial to type 2 diabetics too. This is done by improved blood glucose (sugar) levels while also reducing the need for insulin.
Understanding “high-fat” in the Keto diet
As insulin is reduced either in quantity and or quality many diabetics gain fat mass and find it very difficult to lose or maintain their weight and unfortunately, the current dogma is that ‘fat makes you fat’, this makes it very difficult to think of eating more fat as not only a way to lose fat, but to manage your diabetes.
On the keto diet, you get most of your energy from fat, moderate protein and very few calories coming from carbohydrates, this allows your body to use fat reserves to maintain energy levels.
The only way to do this is to increase your consumption of fat and decrease your consumption of carbs and sugar.
Not all fats are created equal, grain-based fats like canola and sunflower oil are very unhealthy and cause havoc on our systems.
Healthy fats are the key to sustaining overall health. Some healthy foods that are commonly eaten in the Keto diet include:
- fish such as salmon
- cottage cheese
- Avocado and avocado oil
- olives and olive oil
- nuts and nut butters
- Coconut and coconut oil
- Animal fats
Effects on blood glucose
The Keto diet has the potential to decrease blood glucose levels. Managing carbohydrate intake is often recommended for people with type 2 diabetes because carbohydrates turn to sugar and, in large quantities, can cause blood sugar spikes.
However, carb counts should be determined on an individual basis with the help of your doctor.
It is important to work with your healthcare provider especially if you are currently on any type of medication. The change in your requirements for insulin and or any other type of related drugs to manage your diabetes can rescue quickly and expert advice on how much to reduce dosage by and when is very important.
Understanding the terminology
Changing your body’s primary energy source from carbohydrates to fat causes an increase in ketones in the blood. This “dietary ketosis” is different from ketoacidosis, which is an extremely dangerous condition.
When you have too many ketones, you may be at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is most prevalent in type 1 diabetes when blood glucose is too high and can arise from a lack of insulin.
Although rare, DKA is possible in type 2 diabetes if ketones are too high. Being ill while on a low-carb diet may also increase your risk for DKA.
If you’re on the Keto diet, be sure to test blood sugar levels throughout the day to make sure they are within their target range. Also, consider testing ketone levels to make sure you’re not at risk for DKA.
On the contrary to the risk of DKA is has been shown people who are well adapted to a keto diet and rely largely on ketones (fat) for energy and less susceptible to hypoglycemia even in type 1 diabetics.
See here for a great blog relating to the above :
Monitoring your diabetes
The Keto diet seems straightforward. Unlike a typical low-calorie diet, however, a high-fat diet requires careful monitoring, due to the significant and fast pace you may need to adjust your meds, and ultimately move very low does or none required at all!
Your doctor needs to monitor both blood glucose and ketone levels to make adjustments to your meds. Once your body adjusts to the diet, you may still need to see your doctor once or twice a month for testing and medication adjustments.
Research, the keto diet, and diabetes
In 2008, researchers conducted a 24-week study to determine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on people with type 2 diabetes and obesity.
At the end of the study, participants who followed the Keto diet saw greater improvements in glycemic control and medication reduction compared to those who followed a low-glycemic diet.
lifestyle modification using two diets that reduce carbohydrate intake led to an improvement in glycemic control, diabetic medication elimination/reduction, and weight loss in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes over a 24-week period in the outpatient setting. The diet containing fewer carbohydrates, the low-carbohydrate, Keto diet, was more effective for improving glycemic control than the low glycemic diet. Lifestyle modification using low-carbohydrate diet interventions are effective for improving obesity and type 2 diabetes, and may play an important role in reversing the current epidemic of ‘diabesity.’
There are many other studies and anecdotal blogs and stories, that a simple google search will lead you to.
The Keto diet may offer hope to people with type 2 diabetes who have difficulty controlling their symptoms. Not only do many people feel better with fewer diabetic symptoms, but they may also be less dependent on medications.
Still, not everyone has success on this diet. Some may find the restrictions too difficult to follow over the long term.
Yo-yo dieting can be dangerous for diabetes, so you should only start the Keto diet if you’re sure you can commit to it.