Updated: Mar 30, 2021
By Dr. Shreya Batra, ND
The “Keto” (Ketogenic) diet gained a lot of popularity for its effect on weight loss and energy levels a few years back. It has continued to be a type of diet that people rely on for weight loss purposes – however, the original discovery of the diet was not for weight loss purposes.
The Keto diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrate intake to a minimum (usually 50g/day or less) while increasing fat intake. The idea is that in a state of ketosis, achieved by this dietary modification, favors fat metabolism for energy instead of carbohydrates. Originally, it was said to be a fantastic way to manage seizures and those who were diagnosed with epilepsy and further research emerged for other cognitive concerns. In recent years, the research for the keto diet and its impact on blood sugar control, specifically Type 2 Diabetes, lipid parameters, and obesity has shown promising results.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) occurs when your cells become RESISTANT to insulin. Meaning, your body is creating enough insulin, but your cells are not reacting to it enough (resistant to insulin), and are not using up the glucose in the bloodstream. This ultimately results in increased insulin, increased blood sugar, and a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis. (Please keep in mind, this process is different for someone with type 1 diabetes). Often, patients with obesity have some extent of insulin resistance and this is should be investigated with your doctor.
Using the ketogenic diet as a therapeutic intervention for those with diabetes is a potential therapy that has shown significant results. A meta-analysis study published in 2020 showed that the ketogenic diet had an impact on metabolic parameters associated with blood sugar reduction, and reduction in lipids in the blood. It was a good tool to reduce the weight in patients, especially those with either pre-diabetes or diabetes. It also addressed the root cause of diabetes, which is insulin resistance.
What does this mean?
Does it mean that if you have high blood sugar, or high insulin, you should hop on the bandwagon and do the ketogenic diet? If you decide to do the ketogenic diet therapeutically, it should be done very controlled and monitored by a health care professional. It is important to note that most websites, books, infographics regarding the keto diet promote every high fat food, including greasy, fried and saturated fats. These can do more harm than good and it is crucial that you learn the difference. I also don’t recommend the keto diet for long term, unless indicated for a specific medical condition, but this is also something that should be discussed with a health care provider.
It is also very important to monitor ketosis – which can be done through urine ketone sticks. If your body is not in a state of ketosis – you are not reaping the benefits of the diet, and instead, you could be doing more harm by indulging in more fats.
A healthy keto diet should include the following:
Guidance with a health care professional
Monitoring of lipid levels, kidney function, and liver function, through blood work
Focus on healthy fats such as: olive oil, avocados, fatty fish, nuts and seeds (and their butters), cottage cheese…etc.
Avoiding saturated fats (which will increase your heart disease risk) – such as fried foods
Continuing to get a good source of fiber (which is not included in your carbohydrate count) – green veggies, flax…etc.
If you have concerns with blood sugar control, weight gain, increased lipid levels (cholesterol) and are looking for more support, please reach out before indulging in a new diet. It is important that you get the right type of treatment that is best for you!
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