The idea is that the fasting induces mild stress to the cells in your body, helping them become better at coping with such stress and possibly helping your body grow stronger. The verdict is still out regarding the diet’s long-term effectiveness with weight loss, according to a review of preliminary animal research published in January 2017 in Behavioral Sciences. (17)
There is research that supports the ketogenic diet for diabetes management, while other research seems to recommend opposing dietary treatments like a plant-based diet. Research from 2017 confirms that people with diabetes who followed a plant-based diet experienced significant improvements in blood sugars and A1c, cardiovascular disease risk factors, gut bacteria that is responsible for insulin sensitivity, and inflammatory markers like c-reactive protein.
The aim is far broader than suggested by the article here: It’s not just about what you put in your mouth – it’s also about timing and exercise. There are three ways to be in ketosis – which simply means that “fat burning” and not being dependent on sugars. Fasting puts a man into ketosis in 3 days and a woman by 2 days. Endurance exercise gets you there in a couple of hours. Eating a high fat diet will do it too. The goal however is hidden by the detail – it is to acquire a “Flexible Metabolism”. The aim is to switch on the full fat burning capacity and keep it running – which takes from between 4 to 12 weeks physical adaptation (for the muscles to fully be able to use ketones). The heart runs approximately 27% more efficiently on ketones than on glucose! The brain works better too – Alzheimer’s being referred to by researchers as “diabetes 3”. Once you have a Flexible Metabolism you can consume carbs during or after exercise without dropping out of ketosis – though this depends on your own bio-individuality. I can eat quite a lot of carbs – without losing ketosis – my partner cannot.
In 2008, researchers conducted a 24-week study to determine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on people with type 2 diabetes and obesity. At the end of the study, participants who followed the ketogenic diet saw greater improvements in glycemic control and medication reduction compared to those who followed a low-glycemic diet. A study from 2017 found the ketogenic diet outperformed a conventional, low-fat diabetes diet over 32 weeks in regards to weight loss and A1c. A 2013 review reports again that a ketogenic diet can lead to more significant improvements in blood sugar control, A1c, weight loss, and discontinued insulin requirements than other diets.
In case you haven’t jumped on the keto train and are wondering what exactly all the hype is about, here you go: The diet is very high fat and (almost) no carb. The ratio of fat to carbs and protein is 4:1. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to burn fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, resulting in weight loss. And, advocates claim there are many benefits beyond the number on the scale going down.
The struggle as a prescriber is that you have to follow the “standard of care,” lest you open yourself up to a lawsuit. So I talk to my patents about what “the” recommendations are, and then I talk to them bout what the evidence says and what my experience says. Plain and simple, patient’s trust the government’s recommendations and can’t wrap their head around the idea of not eating carbs because they have learned their entire lives that the body “needs” carbs to survive.
Con: Results can vary depending on how much fluid you drink. By drinking more water, you dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine and thus a lower level of ketones will be detected on the strips. The strips don’t show a precise ketone level. Finally, and most importantly, as you become increasingly keto-adapted and your body reabsorbs ketones from the urine, urine strips may become unreliable, even if you’re in ketosis.