Type 2 diabetes is a challenging and confusing disorder to cope with. And whether you’re dealing with a recent diagnosis or you’ve been managing your diabetes for some time, there are still conflicting recommendations in the news, social media and even from patient support groups about what’s helpful ─ and what’s not.
But when it comes to your diet, ketogenic nutrition can help people with type 2 diabetes (1).
Ketogenic Nutrition to the Rescue?
Recent research (2) points to the ability of a high fat, very-low carb diet (such as a properly-administered ketogenic program) to help support healthy levels of glucose, triglycerides, insulin and body weight in people with diabetes.
Special diets for people with diabetes often focus on weight loss, but the ketogenic diet and ketone formulas can potentially change the way the body stores and uses energy, which can reduce unwanted symptoms (3). Starting, and sticking with, a ketogenic diet can improve the way your body handles sugar and reduces demand for insulin.
It can be helpful to know the basics about ketogenic eating and how it can help with diabetes – the main goal of the ketogenic diet is to make the body use fat for energy instead of carbs or blood sugar.
People on the keto diet produce most of their energy from fat, with very little of the diet coming from carbs. The recommendation is typically 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates (4).
Now, it can be difficult to maintain the right ketogenic diet when you’re at work, traveling or just trying to live your life! That’s where specially prepared ketogenic meals and ketogenic formulas can be helpful.
The right ketogenic meals will help you stick to the keto guidelines and, more importantly, achieve your goal of better managing your type 2 diabetes.
Ketogenic Diets and Glucose/Insulin Health
People without diabetes can benefit greatly from a ketogenic diet, too. A 2003 study from the University of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center looked at a very-low-carbohydrate diet compared to a low-fat diet in healthy women over a six-month period (5).
The results? The women who were selected for the very-low-carb diet found that their glucose and insulin levels decreased significantly. The low-carb diet was much more effective than the low-fat diet.
A more recent study looked at the ketogenic diet in obese patients over six months. What did the researchers find? The patients experienced a significant drop in glucose levels (6). On top of that, weight, waist measurements, total cholesterol and LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels also went down significantly.
In another study, obese patients ─ many of them with diabetes ─ received either a low-carb diet or low-calorie/low-fat diet for six months (7). The people who were on the low-carbohydrate diet saw their insulin sensitivity improve and lost more weight than did people who were on the low-calorie/low-fat diet.
A short study in 2005 compared a usual diet and a low-carb diet in obese patients with type 2 diabetes (8). The patients who were on the low-carb diet had their glucose levels become normal.
Also, their HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin A1c) percentages went from 7.3% to 6.8% and their insulin sensitivity dramatically improved ─ by 75 percent.
In a 2005 study from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, 28 overweight patients with type 2 diabetes were studied in a 16-week trial using a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (1).
The ketogenic diet decreased fasting glucose by 17 percent. Also, HbA1c levels dropped from 7.5 to 6.3 percent by week 16.
And get this: The low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet’s improvements helped most participants to reduce or discontinue the use of diabetes medications.
A ketogenic diet provides new hope for people with diabetes or who are concerned about it. Work with your physician or nurse to monitor your blood-sugar and ketone levels to make sure you are safely getting the most out of ketogenic eating!
- Yancy WS, et al. “A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial.” Ann Intern Med. 2004;140(10):769-777.
- Kosinksi C and Jornayvaz FR. “Effects of ketogenic diets on cardiovascular risk factors: Evidence from animal and human studies.” Nutrients. 2017;9(5). pii: E517. doi: 10.3390/nu9050517.
- Ruskin DN and Masino SA. “The nervous system and metabolic dysregulation: Emerging evidence converges on ketogenic diet therapy.” Front Neurosci. 2012; 6: 33. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00033
- Mawer R. “The ketogenic diet: A detailed beginner’s guide to keto.” Healthline.com July 30, 2018. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101
- Brehm BJ, et al. “A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003;88(4):1617-1623.
- Dashti HM, et al. “Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients.” Exp Clin Cardiol. 2004;9(3):200-205.
- Samaha FF, et al. “A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity.” N Engl J Med. 2003;348(21):2074-2081.
- Boden G, et al. “Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.” Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(6):403-411.