Although the keto diet is a popular way to lose weight, this diet also comes with several other health benefits. One of the many benefits of the keto diet is in lowering the blood sugar level, which makes some people wonder, is the keto diet good for diabetes?
There is no doubt that the keto diet is effective for weight loss. The diet has also been found to provide plenty of other health benefits, such as improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.
Both of these are beneficial for people with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. However, scientists are still studying how keto affects diabetics and whether it is safe or not. But here’s everything you need to know about using the keto diet as a treatment for diabetes.
Is the Keto Diet Good for Diabetes?
What Is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan. If done right, it will change the way your body uses energy. Instead of using carbs for energy, your body will use fats instead. As Scott Keatley, RD, of the Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy has said,
“This eating plan is all about minimizing your carbs and upping your fats to get your body to use fat as a form of energy.”
With the keto diet, you must limit your daily carb consumption to less than 50 grams per day. Strict keto dieters would go as low as 20 grams per day. Most of your calories should come from fats and some protein.
Related reading: Best Carbs to Eat for Weight Loss
After about a week of restricting your carb intake, your body should get into the state of nutritional ketosis, and that’s when it will start using the fats you’ve eaten as energy.
Related reading: How Ketosis Works for Burning Fat Faster?
This is quite different from metabolic ketoacidosis which uncontrolled Type 1 diabetics can suffer from.
The keto diet has become very popular in the recent years due to the amazing results people are having with it for weight loss but this diet has been around since the 1920s.
It was originally created as a treatment for epilepsy, but the effects of this eating plan have also been studied as a possible treatment for Type 2 diabetes.
Understanding High-Fat in the Keto Diet
Keto diet is truly effective for weight loss. However, its high-fat aspect, which is often associated with processed foods like bacon makes people wonder, is the keto diet good for diabetes?
Most people with Type 2 Diabetes are overweight, so a diet that’s high in fat might make you think that it may not be that helpful for them. But it’s important to understand that the goal of the keto diet is to utilize healthy fats for energy instead of carbs.
Related reading: Benefits of Fat for the Keto Diet
Also, its the refined carbohydrate foods that are the main problem with Type 2 diabetes and not healthy fats.
Related reading: Best Fats To Eat On A Low Carb Diet
Following the keto diet does not mean you will load up on a lot of saturated fats. If you want to improve your health when following a keto diet, you should focus on eating heart-healthy fats, such as avocados, pastured eggs, extra virgin olive oil, unroasted nuts, and seeds.
In fact, you can even give up meat while on keto and follow the Ketotarian Diet.
Effects of Keto on Diabetes
To better address the question, is the keto diet good for diabetes, let’s find out the effects of keto on diabetes.
Normally, our bodies would use carbohydrates for energy. Carbo-loaded foods such as pasta, bread, and rice are the main sources. After eating these foods, they will be broken down and converted into glucose.
As the glucose is absorbed from the digestive system into the blood stream it triggers insulin to be released from the pancreas which will help to distribute the glucose to our cells for energy.
If any is not used for immediate energy some of it gets stored in the muscles as glycogen and the rest is converted to fat and stored in cells.
But, if you have diabetes, insulin is either not released or your cells become resistant to it. So, the body’s ability to use carbs for energy will be disrupted.
This is why following a diet that’s low in carbs is good for diabetes. Here’s how a low carb diet like keto can benefit people with type 2 diabetes.
1. Lowers Blood Sugar Level
The keto diet is good for type 2 diabetes since it helps the body to maintain a healthy level of glucose. As the diet restricts the intake of carbs, blood sugar spikes can be prevented, which also minimizes the need for insulin.
Related reading: How Does a Keto Diet Balance Blood Sugar?
Studies done on ketogenic diets have found that the diet can be helpful in controlling the HbA1c levels. This is a blood marker of blood sugar control.
When glucose gets into the blood it binds with hemoglobin (Hb) in red blood cells. The higher the glucose in the blood the more it attaches to hemoglobin.
The A1C test provides information about a person’s blood glucose control over the previous 3 months.
2. Minimize the Use of Diabetes Medications
Since the keto diet can help to lower blood sugar levels, people with type 2 diabetes can minimize their use of diabetes medications and often get off them completely if they follow the diet. In fact, it’s not advisable to use insulin when you’re on the keto diet.
Some health experts have warned that using insulin alongside following a ketogenic diet could put you at risk of developing hypoglycemia. This is a condition in which your blood sugar level is lower than the normal level.
To be sure, it is best to talk to your doctor before you decide to follow the keto diet. Although the keto diet is good for diabetes, not eating enough carbs can be dangerous if you’re also taking medications that can lower your blood sugar level.
3. Help With Weight Loss
The ketogenic diet is effective for losing weight because it helps the body to burn fats. This is especially important if you have diabetes. According to some medical studies, being overweight can greatly influence the development of type 2 diabetes in most people.
Losing even a small amount of weight through diet and exercise could help to support glycemic control. It can also help to improve overall well being and improve energy, which is very helpful for people who have type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that people following low carb diets, especially the keto diet, have not only shown improvement in their overall blood sugar level but have also experienced significant weight loss.
So in answer to the question “Is the keto diet good for diabetes” you will see that the ketogenic diet is good for diabetes. It is especially beneficial to those who have difficulty in controlling their blood sugar level.
Maintaining a healthy level of blood sugar is the only way to minimize diabetic symptoms.
It’s important to know that just like with any diet, the keto diet also comes with risks. As already mentioned, the diet could put you at risk of developing hypoglycemia, especially if you’re taking diabetes medications. So to ensure your safety, talk to your doctor before giving the keto diet a try.