The well-known keto diet is a restrictive diet that was initially developed to treat epilepsy but is now widely used for weight loss and diabetes management.
We previously discussed the keto diet’s role in type 1 diabetes management. Now we’ll look at a more common type of diabetes: type 2 diabetes.
Because the causes of each type differ, so do their responses to the keto diet.
The keto diet is not a miracle cure; it may aid in weight loss and glucose regulation, but it is not a long-term solution.
Many supporters of the ketogenic diet, however, continue to assert that it can reverse or reduce the effects of diabetes.
How does a keto diet work for Type 2 Diabetes?
The basic lifestyle recommendations for type 2 diabetes prevention and management are divided into two categories:
- Weight loss
- Carbohydrate limitation
Ketogenic diets are beneficial in diabetes management because they aid in weight loss and provide moderate to extreme carbohydrate restriction.
This carbohydrate restriction balances blood sugar levels and creates a calorie deficit, resulting in significant weight loss.
However, it is unclear whether these extremely restrictive keto diets are long-term sustainable.
Benefits of the Keto Diet for Type 2 Diabetes:
The Keto diet has been proven to initiate significant weight loss in obese diabetics.
A study including 62 obese participants, divided into two groups:
- Group 1 had 31 participants with BMI >30 and glucose level >6.1 mmol/L, and
- Group 2 had 33 participants with normal glucose levels)
were administered a keto diet for 56 weeks with micronutrient supplementation and 5 tablespoons of olive oil daily.
The study results after 56 weeks showed a significant decrease in body weight, blood glucose levels, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. [Ref]
Another study that compared the effect of a low-calorie diet and a low-carb keto diet in obese diabetics suggests that a low-carb keto diet was more advantageous than a simple low-calorie diet. [Ref]
Another study suggests that a ketogenic diet is beneficial in the management of type 2 diabetes because a strong inverse correlation is found between circulating ketone bodies and glucose output. This suggests that high levels of ketones in the blood initiate glycemic control. [Ref]
Possible Side Effects of the Keto Diet for Diabetes:
The potential dangers of following a keto diet include hypoglycemia on top of the list. Recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia can cause trouble and can be dangerous.
The Keto diet is not reliable for optimal health status in the long run, that’s why you must consider the possible risks too.
Apart from unpredictable drops in blood sugar levels, keto diets have an impact on other health conditions such as heart disease.
Some studies suggest that keto diets lower LDL levels, however, others report the opposite effects.
One study suggests that the keto diet might increase LDL cholesterol over time. [Ref]
This is most probably because keto diets offer a very high daily intake of fats. Although the diet emphasizes healthy fats, most people consume saturated and trans fats in high amounts while following a keto diet.
Keto diets also might alter the way our bodies process carbs. The Keto diet alters the body’s metabolism, so when a person following a keto diet shifts to regular diet blood sugar levels spikes more rapidly. This has been observed after both long and short-term administration of ketogenic diets.
Some Facts You Must Know Before Going Keto:
Keto diets can be beneficial when maintained properly for the short term however, the long-term efficacy and safety of keto diets are still not completely understood.
For short-term use, it is advised that keto diets must be practiced with care and when advised by a dietitian. Short-term side effects of the keto diet include
- Keto flu
- Difficulty sleeping
Some other harmful conditions include vitamin and mineral deficiencies and even kidney stones.
The important thing to remember before planning a keto diet is that everyone’s body is unique and adapts to changes in different ways so, what works for someone else might not work for you.
That’s why before jumping to a keto diet first try to start eating healthy. Skip the use of junk food, sugary drinks, and desserts. White bread, cakes, puddings, fruit juices, etc.
Before beginning the keto diet, consult your doctor or your dietitian.
Diabetes patients may benefit from the keto diet in terms of blood sugar control and weight loss. However, studies show that these effects do not last after keto diets are resumed.
Most people find it difficult to stick to a keto diet for the long term. And there’s still a lot we don’t know about the keto diet’s long-term effects.
However, dietary changes can be an effective diabetes management tool. Instead of extreme restriction, a more moderate carbohydrate reduction with a focus on healthy fats may be more sustainable in the long run.
Focusing on quality and not the quantity of carbohydrates and fats, practicing moderation and regular physical activity is the best way to manage type 2 diabetes.