Ketogenic diet for diabetes mainly focuses on weight loss, so it might seem stupid that a high-fat diet can be a good option. But the ketogenic (keto) diet, high in fat and low in carbohydrates, can drastically change the way your body accumulates and uses energy, reducing diabetes symptoms.
With the keto diet, your body breaks down fat, instead of carbohydrates, into energy. The diet was created in 1920’s as a cure for epilepsy, but the beneficial effects of this eating pattern are also being extensively studied for treating diabetes. The ketogenic diet may control blood glucose levels while also reducing the requirement for insulin. However, the diet does come with certain risks, so make sure to discuss it thoroughly with your physician before making any drastic dietary changes.
Understanding the effect of ketogenic diet on diabetes
Most people with type 2 diabetes are obese, so a high-fat diet might seem awkward. The main purpose of the ketogenic diet is to adapt the body to use fat for energy as an alternative of carbohydrates or glucose. A person on the ketogenic diet gets the majority of their energy from fat, with very little of the calories derived from carbohydrates.
The ketogenic diet doesn’t imply that you should load up on saturated fats, although. Heart-healthy fats are the key to maintaining overall health. Some healthy foods that are widely eaten in the ketogenic diet include eggs, fish such as salmon, cottage cheese, avocado, olives and olive oil, nuts and nut butter, and seeds.
Effects on blood glucose
The ketogenic diet has the power to decrease blood glucose levels. Controlling carbohydrate intake is frequently advised for people with type 2 diabetes because carbohydrates get converted to sugar and, in large quantities, can cause blood glucose spikes. If you already have high blood glucose, then eating too many carbohydrates can be risky. By switching the focus to fat, some people experience a drop in blood sugar levels.
While cutting down carbohydrates is a healthy step, it’s not established if this diet alone can help treat diabetes. Weight loss of any kind is helpful for diabetes and high blood glucose levels.
Changing your body’s chief energy source from carbohydrates to fat results in an increase in ketones in the blood. This “dietary ketosis” is different from ketoacidosis, which is an exceptionally life threatening condition.
When the body has too many ketones, the body may be at risk for developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is most common in type 1 diabetes patients when blood glucose level is extremely high and can happen because of lack of insulin. Although uncommon, DKA is a possibility in type 2 diabetes patients as well if ketones are too high.
If you’re on the ketogenic diet, make sure to test blood glucose levels at regular intervals to make sure they are within their normal range. Also, consider testing ketone levels from time to time to make double sure that you’re not at risk for DKA. The American Diabetes Association recommends testing for ketones regularly if your blood sugar level remains constantly higher than 240 mg/dL. You can easily test at home with urine strips.