I am sure you are familiar with diabetes. If not, you must be familiar with the name. Diabetes has become a very common disease. Fortunately, the disease can be for the most part controlled through several prescription medications, but people with diabetes still have to practice some safeguards. Patients tend to become obese, and there is not a good diet plan for working with diabetes and weight loss until now. Although the keto diet is said to help people with diabetes and reduce the disease, many people are still not sure about it or how the keto diet works to reduce and in some cases arrest diabetes. In this article, we will discuss in detail the keto diet and diabetes and all the misconceptions about it. If you are intrigued, you can learn about a diet plan which will help a person with diabetes, read on to learn more.
What Is The Keto Diet?
The keto diet is basically a diet plan in which you are largely dependent on fats for your diet with some proteins and almost no carbohydrates (carbs). If confuses people when you burn fat, how does the intake of fat help? Let me tell you how it works. When you consume carbs, your body burns those carbs, and the weight you gain is due to excess fat; to get your body to reach the point where it starts to burn fats, will take some time and some effort. It is better if you simply intake fats so your metabolism has no option but to burn fats. This will eventually burn all your excess fats, helping to make you lose weight. This whole process is known as ketosis.
Type 2 Diabetes
The Keto diet is suitable for people who have type 2 diabetes. So before you know how the keto diet and diabetes works, let me give you a brief overview of what type 2 diabetes is. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, and as a result, it is unable to control your blood glucose level. The sugar level in the blood rises, and it can lead to serious health problems if not arrested. Insulin needs to be given artificially to the body.
If you are related to someone with a diabetic disease or you have high blood sugar levels, you must know about your A1C levels. It is basically the level of sugar in the blood over the past three months. There is a test which is known as the hemoglobin A1C test, which determines your blood sugar level over the past 3 months. The normal range for it is below 5.7%, and from 5.7 to 6.3, it indicates pre-diabetics. Above 6.4% means your diabetic.
This requires a special diet to keep this level within the right limits, and it can be obtained through following the keto diet. We will discuss this more in later paragraphs.
How Does It Relate To Ketosis?
Many people confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is when your body builds up acids in the blood. It sometimes happens with diabetics. Though these conditions, ketosis, and ketoacidosis, are related to ketones, many people mistake one for the other. Ketosis is related to the breakdown of fats, and it assists in keeping your A1C levels lower. Low A1C levels are crucial to diabetes, so it turns out ketosis is necessary for people with type 2 diabetes and it causes no harm to the patient.
Research About The Keto Diet And Diabetes
To prove this point, much research has been conducted in the past and even recently on type 2 diabetes patients.
In 2008 research was performed in which people who were obese and were fed only a no-carb diet for 24 weeks responded very positively to this diet.
Another study was performed in 2017; a 32-week study was performed where the keto diet outperformed the low-fat diet for type 2 diabetes patients.
How Does High Fat In Keto Diet Affect It?
Type 2 diabetic patients tend to become obese, and they have a hard time fighting off this obesity, so how can one say high-fat consumption in the keto diet will be helpful. As in the keto diet, you consume 60% fat in your daily diet. So to elaborate on this, the high fat is not to make the body fat but is for regular functions and energy, the body needs to make. So you take fats in place of carbs, and you should not be consuming too many saturated fats. Eat healthy fats, and your body will automatically shift into utilizing fats for energy. So high fat will not affect it in any form; rather, it will make the body utilize the extra fat and burn it for energy.
Impact On Blood Sugar Level
The keto diet and diabetes work hand in hand. The biggest concern type 2 diabetes patients have is they are unable to control their blood glucose levels. So when you are on the keto diet, you do not consume many carbs, hence cutting off on the glucose issue. This can reverse your diabetes as the glucose is no longer in such excess. Also, it has been observed the keto diet has also helped to lower A1C levels.
Impact On Medication
When you are taking certain types of medications for diabetes, they help in lowering the blood glucose level. So if you start the keto diet, your blood sugar level might drop below the normal level and lead to a condition called hypoglycemia. This is why it is advised if you have diabetes and you are already taking medications for it, you should first consult your doctor and talk about your plan of switching to a keto diet so your medications are also adjusted accordingly.
As for pre-diabetics, the keto diet itself is enough to control your diabetes, and there usually is no need for any other mediation to control blood sugar levels.
Impact On Weight
Weight loss is the main focus of some people with diabetes having a keto diet. Quite peculiar, but this is a fact that glycaemic control is influenced by weight loss. If you are very obese, light exercise with the diet will most likely help you.
Keto Diet Meal Planning For Diabetics
Meal planning is very important for people with diabetes. This way, you will not only be regulating your diet according to your diet plan but also considering diabetes and its food restrictions. Typically, when starting, people have cheat days or more high carb days during the week, but people with diabetes should be careful of this. They cannot have any carbs, which will raise the sugar level in their blood.
In an ideal condition, it is advised to consume a diet of 70% of fat per day and the rest being proteins with 20 to 50 grams of carbs. The food categories should be low carb vegetables, oils, cheese, eggs, meat, fish, and berries. Also, do not forget to keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water.
5 Benefits Of Keto Diet For Diabetics
There are many benefits to the keto diet for diabetes. Some of the major benefits of it for diabetics are:
- It can lower your blood pressure.
- It can result in improved insulin sensitivity.
- It can improve your body’s high-density lipoprotein without creating any hindrance to the low-density lipoprotein.
- You can notice a visible drop in your insulin level.
- Moreover, it can even reduce your dependence on medications for type 2 diabetes.
Keto diet increases the ketones in your body and then breaks them down. If it were for a person with type 1 diabetes with a very high blood glucose level, then you would observe it will lead to a condition known as dietary ketoacidosis (DKA). This condition can be very harmful, so if you are such a patient, you should consult your doctor before starting the keto diet. However, type 2 diabetes patients are at low risk for DKA, so they can follow a keto diet, and it will only start ketosis in them, which is not ketoacidosis and nothing to be fearful of.
Short-Term Side Effects
Nothing comes with just benefits. The Keto diet for diabetics also has some side effects. The following are some of the short term side effects of the keto diet. They commonly occur in most people, regardless if they are diabetic or not.
- Keto flu
- Loss of energy
- Leg cramps
- Frequent urination
- Loss of salts in the body
- Hunger pangs
All these side effects are temporary and will subside after two to three weeks of the diet.
Long Term Side Effects
There are not too many long term side effects of the keto diet. Though these long-term side effects are not necessarily seen in every person, there is a risk that one might get affected by these in the long term.
The first one being the development of kidney stones: you can avoid this by drinking lots of water. Another risk is that some diabetes patients might experience hypoglycemia; this, for a longer period, can be harmful to you.
Keto diet involves fat intake, and diabetics are already at risk of cardiovascular disease, so more fats can raise this potential risk. Lastly, it is advised teenagers and children do not opt for this diet because it can cause stunted growth. Once you are an adult, you can start a keto diet.
Keto diet has so far proved to be very beneficial for people suffering from type 2 diabetes, but if the diet does not suit you, you have to drop this diet plan. There are other alternatives for you. The first one is you can focus more on exercise to lose weight than just diet. There are also many alternative diet plans, and some of them are specifically for people who have type 2 diabetes. You can try them for yourself. In all those diet plans, Atkins’s diet is widely used by a large number of people.
The Atkins Diet
In 1970 Dr. Robert C. Atkins created a diet plan named the Atkins diet for people who are battling diseases, including type 2 diabetes, and want to lose weight. It does not focus entirely on fat intake for weight loss. However, there aren’t many carbs either. It focuses on other methods to control blood sugar. There is not much research supporting this diet plan and diabetes, but you can try it for yourself if you feel like the keto diet and diabetes do not work for you.
Monitor Your Diabetes
The keto diet is not as straight forward as it seems. You have to be very careful and calculated with your meals. Especially when you are battling with type 2 diabetes because you have to control your ketone levels as well as your blood glucose level, if either of them goes too high or falls too low, it can harm your body.
So get yourself tested for both of them once a week in the beginning and once you get used to the diet, go to your doctor once or twice a month for a check-up. You must maintain the proper level of glucose and ketones with your diet and keep it regulated.
Starting is quite easy, but the actual issue is keeping on track. Try and focus on your meals and enjoy them. Make them interesting, so you do not think of them as a burden or boring diet food. The keto diet and diabetes have worked well for many people, and I hope it works for you as well and you follow it religiously because if you already have diabetes, you cannot afford to cheat on this diet.
Let me know what other ways you think diabetics can control their diet and body weight in the comments section below.