The Keto Diet for Type 2 Diabetes
There are many available diets in the world, that promise huge changes in your life, but only a few have been carefully studied and recommended. One of these diets is the well-known keto diet, which became popular due to its amazing health and weight benefits. Many celebrities and supermodels followed the keto diet, promoting it on every social media platform.
Because of its popularity, the diet became a great interest to doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians, and it is now even recommended to some patients with type 2 diabetes. There are many studies available that show that the keto diet might be very beneficial to people with diabetes, by lowering blood glucose levels and promoting weight loss. So, let’s find out more about what exactly is the keto diet and how does it can improve diabetes.
What is diabetes?
In diabetes, the body is unable to produce enough insulin, or is unable to use the existing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose to travel into the bloodstream and then to the cells to provide energy. However, if there is not enough insulin to transport the glucose, it will remain in the bloodstream, causing very high blood sugar levels. As you might have guessed until now, if blood sugar levels are constantly high, this can lead to diabetes.
Weight gain, high blood pressure, tiredness, lack of energy, and weak immunity, are all symptoms of diabetes. Diabetic people have a hard time keeping glucose levels low, and diet is the main solution for preventing high sugar levels. Carbs and fats are the main sources of energy for the body, but in diabetes, carbs have to be consumed moderately.
What is keto diet?
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet, focusing on fat as the main source of energy. The body uses glucose, which is a type of carbohydrate, as the best source of energy. If it is in high quantities in the body, it gets stored in the muscles under the form of glycogen, to provide energy later in the day, when glucose levels are low. For example, if you eat carbs in the morning, some are used as energy right away, and some are stored as glycogen in the muscles. After not eating for a few hours, the body uses glycogen as a source of energy, and if the glycogen stores empty, the body uses fat for cell energy.
In the keto diet, fats are used as the main source of energy. When you start the diet, the first days the body still uses the glycogen stores as energy, but after a few days, it runs out of glucose so it forces the body to burn the unwanted fats. This process of converting fats into energy causes the release of ketones, which are fatty acid substances that provide energy to the main organs. However, if the level of ketones is too high, it can cause a condition called ketoacidosis, which is toxic for the body.
What do high fats mean to keto diet?
The ketogenic diet focuses on the consumption of fat together with proteins, while consuming less than 50 g of carbs per day. Fats are an essential part of the diet, as they provide energy, they improve brain functions, cause inflammation to protect the body from harmful contaminants, and they also help with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. There are two types of fats: saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and contain many hydrogen atoms. If consumed in high quantities, it can cause the rise of cholesterol levels, leading to health risks such as heart disease, or type 2 diabetes. Saturated fats are found in red meat, whole milk, cheese, butter, plant oils, sausages, bacon, fried foods, cookies, and pastries.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and they contain fewer hydrogen atoms. They are a type of fat that is considered to be healthier as they help with reducing cholesterol levels, and they can be found in olives, olive oils, fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, seeds, and avocados. While following a keto diet, is important to incorporate as many unsaturated fats as possible, to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent the risk of heart diseases or even diabetes.
The best high fats that can be used in the keto diet are:
- Avocado and avocado oils: a very healthy source of fats, that is rich in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, promoting heart health and balanced blood sugar;
- Nuts, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews: Healthy fats that contain both fiber and proteins, preventing heart diseases, cancer and diabetes;
- Nut butters: Healthy fats rich in proteins;
- Nut flour: No carbs, only healthy fats;
- Flax seeds: anti-inflammatory properties and rich in essential omega-3 fats, proteins, and fiber;
- Hemp seeds: a great protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids;
- Chia seeds: healthy fats rich in fiber, reducing inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases;
- Olives and Olive oil: Healthy fats rich in vitamin E, reducing inflammation and chronic diseases;
- Coconuts and Coconut oil: Easily absorbed fats and great energy source;
- Cacao nibs: rich in polyphenols, with strong anti-inflammatory effects that promote the health of gut bacteria;
- Greek yogurt: great source of calcium and probiotics;
- Salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines: great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D;
- Eggs: Healthy fats rich in B vitamins and antioxidants.
Effects on blood glucose
After ingestion, carbs are converted into sugar and if they’re consumed in high quantities, they can cause blood sugar spikes. Carbohydrates can be found in fruits, vegetables, and grains, and people with diabetes are advised to consume small amounts, to keep their glucose levels on track. The keto diet is a low-carb diet, which means that it is a great option for people who monitor their glucose levels.
Because this diet drastically reduces the consumption of carbs, it can also reduce blood sugar levels and the need for insulin, reducing diabetes symptoms. If you deprive the body of carbs like potatoes, rice, corn, squash, dairy, fruits, bread, or beans, it starts using fats as fuel, and this process is called ketosis. In the ketosis process, ketones are produced and eliminated through urine. However, sometimes, due to the lack of insulin that helps eliminate the ketones, these can build up in the bloodstream, causing ketoacidosis. This is a dangerous condition that is common for people with low levels of insulin, and symptoms include excessive thirst, confusion, weakness, and excessive urination.
Keto benefits for type 2 diabetes
Nutritional intervention is the most important action that has to be taken in any type of clinical issue, as it is proved that it can only benefit the health, if it is guided by a specialist. Being characterized by reduced intake of carbs, the ketogenic diet can lead to an improvement in metabolic pathways and have a beneficial effect on health.
Insulin resistance is the main symptom that can cause a rise in glucose levels. If the body is unable to use insulin, the glucose will get converted into fat, by the liver, and enter the circulation as saturated fats, increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Carbohydrate restriction can prevent all these risks, and not only can it lower the blood sugar levels, but it can also reduce insulin resistance.
This means that symptoms of diabetes are significantly reduced, and as the body starts burning the fat for energy, it can also lose the extra weight. Glucose levels improve not only because of the low intake of sugar, but also because insulin becomes less resistant to glucose. Ketosis is an effective diabetes reversal that lowers blood sugar, improves insulin resistance and reduces inflammation.
Is keto safe if you have diabetes?
We heard that the keto diet lowers blood sugar levels, helps with weight loss, prevents heart diseases and has many benefits for the brain. But is this type of diet safe for people who suffer from diabetes?
There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin or produce very little insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the situation is a little bit different. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin but they are unable to use it all. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs with women during pregnancy.
Generally, keto has been great for type 2 diabetics by reducing the carb intake and thus reducing the need of insulin. The low-glycemic index of food and the ketogenic diet can lead to glycemic control improvement, and even to the elimination or reduction of medication.
As for type 1 and gestational diabetes, the body may be unable to metabolize ketones, which can lead to ketoacidosis. For these types of diabetes, we recommend contacting your doctor prior to starting a ketogenic diet to ensure it is right for you.
Keto risks for type 2 diabetes
In any type of diabetes, losing weight can only be beneficial, improving the diabetic control. Carbohydrates have a high glycemic index and are high in calories, so by reducing the intake, the blood sugar levels become lower, and the weight-loss process begins. By switching the energy source from carbs to fats, the ketone levels will rise. The biggest risk for type 2 diabetes, is ketoacidosis.
This can be prevented by constantly monitoring the blood glucose levels, and also the ketone levels. The blood sugar levels can be monitored by using a CGM device, and the ketone levels can be tested with ketone urine strips you can buy from the pharmacy. The main symptoms of ketoacidosis are high blood sugar, dry mouth, frequent urination, nausea, fruity breath, breathing difficulties, and excessive thirst.
Keto Diabetes Friendly Shopping List
When it comes to food shopping, nowadays you can find anything you can dream of in the shops. You can substitute any nutrient with what suits better with your choice of lifestyle. Following a ketogenic diet and having diabetes comes with a few shopping rules. Here are the best food items that can help you with maintaining normal glucose levels while also following a keto diet:
- Greek yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese
- fish and seafood
- unsweetened plant-based milks
- vegetables of any kind
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate or cocoa powder
- Olive oil
If you feel the need for something sweet, there are also a variety of supplements on our website that are safe to add to your keto diet, without hindering your blood glucose levels:
The keto diet is a very popular diet, which encourages a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Starting a keto diet is a very serious decision especially if you are not well informed, or if you suffer from diabetes. It is always important to get your doctor’s or nutritionist’s advice before making any health decisions.
There are many keto-friendly recipes that can help you on our website, and you can also find many sweet snacks that can help you with the keto weight–loss process. Check out our blog where you can find plenty of information about the keto diet and health.
- Eric C. Westman, William S. Yancy Jr, John C. Mavropouluos, Megan Marquart, Jennifer R. McDuffie, The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet, versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus;
- Paoli, A Rubini, JS Volek, KA Grimaldi, Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets;
- Laura R. Saslow, Ashley E. Mason, Sarah Kim, Veronica Goldman, Robert Ploutz-Snyder, Hovig Bayandorian, Jennifer Daubenmier, An online intervention comparing a very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and lifestyle recommendations versus a plate method diet in overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial;
- Andrea Mario Bolla, Amelia Caretto, Andrea Laurenzi, Marina Scavini, Lorenzo Piemonti, Low-carb and ketogenic diets in type 1 and type 2 Diabetes;p
- Lauren Anne Buehler, Dawn Noe, Shannon Knapp, Diana Isaac, Kevin M. Pantalone, Ketogenic diets in the management of type 1 diabetes: safe or safety concers?;
- There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, gestational diabetes.
- A ketogenic diet has been found to have positive effects on people with type 2 diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels.