Type 2 diabetes is a condition that impacts blood sugar control. A person can manage the condition by following a healthful diet and maintaining a healthy body weight. A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, very low-carbohydrate diet that may help some people in supporting blood sugar.
Some people have suggested that this type of diet might help a person with diabetes, but the American Diabetes Association (ADA) do not recommend any single diet over another.
Every person has different dietary needs. Doctors now individualize diet plans based on current eating habits, preferences, and a target weight or blood sugar level for that person.
Foods containing carbohydrates, such as bread, rice, pasta, milk, and fruit, are the main fuel source for many bodily processes. The body uses insulin to help bring glucose from the blood into the cells for energy.
However, in a person with diabetes, insulin is either absent or does not work properly. This disrupts the body’s ability to use carbohydrates effectively and, in turn, causes sugars to be high in the blood.
If a person eats a high-carb meal, this can lead to a spike in blood glucose, especially in a person with diabetes. Diet is important for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Limiting the intake of carbohydrates is the central concept of the keto diet.
Researchers initially developed and continue to recommend the diet for children with epilepsy. However, some reviews maintain that it might also benefit some people with diabetes.
Some research has suggested that following a ketogenic diet might:
- reduce the risk of diabetes in people who do not yet have it
- improve glycemic control in people with diabetes
- help people to lose excess weight
In this article, we look at the possible links between the keto diet and diabetes.
The ketogenic diet and diabetes
The ketogenic diet severely restricts carbohydrates. It forces the body to break down fats for energy. The process of using fat for energy is called ketosis. It produces a fuel source called ketones.
A ketogenic diet may help some people with type 2 diabetes because it allows the body to maintain glucose levels at a low but healthy level.
The lower intake of carbohydrates in the diet can help to eliminate large spikes in blood sugar, reducing the need for insulin.
Studies on ketogenic diets, including research from 2018, have found that they can be helpful in controlling levels of HbA1c. This refers to the amount of glucose traveling with hemoglobin in the blood over about 3 months.
Impact on medication
Ketogenic diets may help reduce blood sugar levels. As such, some people with type 2 diabetes who also follow a ketogenic diet may be able to reduce their need for medication.
However, scientists have warned that those following the ketogenic diet alongside an insulin regimen might have a higher risk of developing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels fall to 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less.
It is best to discuss any diet changes with your doctor while on medication. Not consuming enough carbohydrates can be dangerous when taking certain medications for diabetes.
Impact on weight
The ketogenic diet helps the body burn fat. This is beneficial when a person is trying to lose weight, and it may be helpful for people whose excess weight has influenced the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Even light-to-moderate weight loss through diet and exercise might support glycemic control, overall well-being, and energy distribution throughout the day in people who have diabetes,
Research has shown that people undertaking a ketogenic diet show an improvement in blood sugar level management and that some have experienced noticeable weight loss.
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