A Simple Guide On Diabetes And The Ketogenic Diet: Staying healthy and fit has become a challenge for many people in this era. They try various methods to lose weight and stay healthy.
The ketogenic or ‘keto’ diet is a popular method to lose weight. Many people find it beneficial to keep their weight under control. However, the concern is if it’s still applicable and safe for those who have diabetes.
Here is a simple guide on diabetes and the ketogenic diet.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet focuses on eating foods with high amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and low amounts of carbs.
Generally, our diet consists mainly of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose and converted into energy inside our bodies.
When your body has low carbohydrate levels, it burns fat for energy. Reaching this state in a keto diet is called ‘ketosis.’
Standard keto diet:
55%-70% of your daily calories come from fat
25-35% of your daily calories come from protein
5%-10% of your daily calories come from carbohydrates (i.e.50 g per day)
Ketogenic Diet Variations
The above description is fit for a standard keto diet. However, there are also a few variations to the standard keto diet, as given below.
The cyclical keto diet: In this keto diet, you can eat 100g to 150g of carbohydrate sources for one or two days a week.
The targeted keto diet: This diet is also the same as the cyclical keto diet, except that you have to time when you eat carbs. (e.g., pre or post-workout)
The very low carb diet (VLCD): This keto diet allows you to eat 100g to 150g of carbohydrates per day, which is more than the standard keto diet.
Diabetes And A Ketogenic Diet
Many are concerned about the fact that diabetic patients can follow a ketogenic diet and if they could benefit from following the same.
Usually, what happens is that you eat a lot of carbs, and these carbs are broken into sugar in your body. This sugar is then converted to energy. However, since the keto diet is very low on carbs, it uses fat to produce energy.
It could be beneficial for diabetic patients as the body doesn’t use glucose or sugar to convert into energy as it usually does when you’re on an ordinary diet.
How Does A Ketogenic Diet Affect Blood Sugar
When you have a low-carb diet, your body needs less insulin, resulting in fewer blood spikes. Fewer blood spikes should lead to better A1c values in diabetic patients.
Studies also show that a ketogenic diet can improve insulin sensitivity. This is because it further reduces your body’s need for insulin, making it easier to control blood sugar levels.
If you can truly follow a keto diet, you can effectively manage your blood sugar levels.
Is Keto Safe For Diabetics?
Keto is safe for people with diabetes if followed correctly. However, not following a keto diet properly could lead you to a state of ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition in which your body doesn’t have enough insulin, resulting in more ketone buildup.
Symptoms of ketoacidosis include frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, weakness, and confusion.
Can A Keto Diet Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?
A keto diet is more effective for people with type 2 diabetes. It can help them lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels.
A diet rich in fat and protein makes you feel less hungry, which helps you control weight. Fat and protein also take longer to digest in your body, which keeps you feeling full for longer.
A keto diet also helps lower triglyceride levels, further assisting diabetes patients in losing weight. In addition, it will put them at less risk of cardiovascular disease.
Insulin-resistant patients can benefit from reaching ketosis because their bodies will need to make less insulin. Insulin-resistant patients have high blood sugar levels due to the body’s improper response to the insulin hormone.
Diabetes-Friendly Ketogenic Food List
In general, what you need to remember is a keto-friendly diet consists of more fat and protein and fewer carbs.
Here are some foods that you can include in a diabetes-friendly keto diet.
- Nuts and seeds
- Non-starchy vegetable
- Olive oil
Here are some foods to steer clear from when on a keto diet.
- Grains, including whole grains such as whole-wheat bread and pasta, and brown rice
- High-carb fruits, especially tropical ones
- All forms of sugar (brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn, syrup, candy, and baked goods)
- All processed foods (e.g., chips, crackers, etc.)
Things To Know Before Going Keto
The first thing you should do is consult your doctor before going on a keto diet. Although it could be beneficial for diabetic patients, each scenario could differ from another, which is why professional advice is required.
Secondly, remember that keto-adaptation is rough. It’s not going to be easy to reduce your carb intake drastically. Also, as a diabetic patient, you will feel more tired. Therefore, remember your goals and stick to this diet as much as possible.
Your brain is used to having glucose in your body, and this sudden change could make you crave it. It is the state when you’re in glucose withdrawal.
When this happens, and you feel sick and fed up with the keto diet, remember your intentions and goals to keep you on track to follow the diet correctly.
Benefits Of A Ketogenic Diet For Someone With Diabetes
Although following a keto diet is challenging, there are many benefits to reap from it as someone who has diabetes.
- It helps lower A1c levels.
- It helps control blood sugar levels.
- It helps lose weight.
- It improves insulin resistance.
- It lowers your body’s triglyceride levels.
- It could reduce your body’s need for insulin.
- It increases HDL (or ‘good’) cholesterol levels.
- It improves cognitive functions.
Risks Of Diabetics Going On A Ketogenic Diet
One of the main risks of a person with diabetes going on a keto diet is going into a state of ketoacidosis. It happens when your body’s insulin levels are very low, which results in more ketone buildup.
This condition could be fatal, and people with type1 diabetes are at more risk of reaching this state. This is because it comes from hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and increased acid.
If you are diabetes plus heart patient, then you’re also at risk when on a keto diet. Blood cholesterol levels could spike up at the initial stages of a keto diet due to the increased fat and protein intake. It puts an individual at more risk for heart attack and stroke.
Kidney patients also should not try going on a keto diet. Again, it is because the high-protein intake will not agree with your condition.
Those with a history of eating disorders should also consult a doctor before following a keto diet.
Should You Try A Keto Diet As A Diabetic?
Studies show mixed results for diabetic patients following a keto diet. Therefore, the first thing you should do is consult your doctor about following this diet.
According to the above factors, following a keto diet is more beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes than those with type 1 diabetes.
If you’re not at risk of the above conditions or diseases, following a keto diet should not be a problem as soon as you get the green light from your doctor.
Alternative Diet Plan For Diabetics
There are other diet plans that you can follow as a diabetic patient if you feel that a keto diet isn’t for you.
The Mediterranean diet is a good diet plan for those with diabetes. It helps in better control of blood sugar for people with this disease.
A Mediterranean diet consists of fish, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil.
Studies show that a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Drinking a meal replacement shake for diabetics is also a great way to get all the nutrients your body requires. It’s simple, convenient, and ready-made, so you can quickly drink it even when running out of time, especially in the morning.
The bottom line is that a keto diet is safe for diabetic patients as long as they follow it correctly and consult their doctor first.
If you have any other risk factors mentioned above, you must avoid following a ketogenic diet.
If everything’s well and your doctor gives you the green light, a keto diet could lower your blood sugar levels and help you better control diabetes.
How Long Does It Take For A Diabetic To Go Into Ketosis?
It should take about 7 to 12 days for a diabetic patient to enter ketosis.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis?
Signs of diabetic ketoacidosis include fast and deep breathing, headache, dry skin and mouth, flushed face, tiredness, nausea, and vomiting.