The Ketogenic Diet is a low carbohydrate diet, consisting initially of less than 20 carbohydrates per day. Not per meal, yes, you heard me correctly, per day. It is not for the faint of heart and yes I am writing from experience. Of course I have tried it! Hasn’t everybody in America at some point who has wanted to lose weight? Does it work you ask? Of course it does! The problem is how long can you keep it up?
Full disclosure: I have followed a low-carb diet for nearly a decade and find no problem adhering to it. I’ve lost weight and all my cardiovascular biomarkers have improved. Moreover, I’ve studied the science and history behind low-carbohydrate diets, so beyond my personal experience, I bring an evidence-based perspective. (Previously, for 25+ years, I adhered faithfully to a “mostly plants” regimen of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, including my own homemade 7-grain bread, while exercising religiously. Yet during that time my blood lipids were unhealthy, and I never could shake an extra 10-20 pounds.)
The following weekend I was looking for a book on this diet at Barnes & Noble in Colonie Center. A title caught my eye, “The Mediterranean Diet Plan,” written by Susan Zogheib. After reading the book’s introduction I quickly skimmed through the background of the diet and stopped at the diet plans. I smiled. I thought to myself, “I could totally do this!” I skipped ahead to the recipes. At that moment I knew I had found my diet plan! The book has four, four-week diet plans complete with recipes for every meal that are structured on the level of comfort you have with making the switch. One month of meals AND recipes, I couldn’t wait!
Participants completed take-home food records (4 consecutive days, including a weekend) collected at baseline and at weeks 2, 8, and 16 during the study. Participants were given handouts with examples of how to complete the records. A registered dietician analyzed the food records using a nutrition software program (Food Processor SQL, ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, OR).
My pick for the healthiest meal plan for diabetes? My favorite is the Mediterranean Diet. It’s high in fiber, low in saturated fats and includes no processed foods which is the challenge for all of us at this point in history. If we could all eat like they do in Italy and Greece! Think of Sicily and the coasts of Greece where their diet consists of fresh fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, olives and olive oil, lean meats such as chicken and pork, some eggs and little red meat. The American Heart Association recommends it as well as the American Diabetes Association as being one healthy diet choice for people with diabetes.
Drink lots of water. This is especially crucial on a low carb or keto diet. Why? When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores the extra as glycogen in the liver, where they are bound to water molecules. Eating low carb depletes this glycogen, which allows you to burn fat – but it also means you are storing less water, making it easier to get dehydrated. Instead of the traditional recommendation of 8 cups of water per day, aim for 16 cups when following a low carb lifestyle.
Sesame seeds likely aren’t one of those foods you pay any mind to, but the crunchy little buggers have been shown to play a crucial role in weight maintenance and deserve to be tossed into a salad or whole wheat noodle dish. Researchers suspect its the lignans—plant compounds—found in sesame seeds (and flax seeds) that makes them so special. In a 2015 study, women who consumed high levels of lignans tended to weigh less and gain less weight over time when compared to women who didn’t consume these compounds in high amounts.
Research is continuing. This was just a pilot study,1 Dr. Saslow says, so we could test the effects in a small group in order to see if working with patients online offered an effective way to have people follow a weight loss program. In her next study, she plans to break down the components of a program to determine which elements are responsible for the weight loss and the decrease in blood glucose and HbA1c.
What the expert says: ‘There have been a number of cases where GPs have said, “You’ve got IBS, go on the low-FODMAP diet”,’ says Dr Megan Rossi (@theguthealthdoctor). ‘The only support they give you is a printout with a limited explanation of the diet from the internet. I’ve had clients come into my practice who’ve been given a list of 10 “friendly” foods to survive on, which is nutritionally dangerous.’
It is important to understand that the statement that carbohydrates are “nonessential” is not only factually inaccurate, it results in adopting a low-carbohydrate diet or ketogenic diet that increases your risk for a wide variety of chronic health conditions that may ultimately shorten lifespan, decrease your quality of life, and accelerate your risk for chronic disease.
Very low levels of thyroid hormone usually indicate an autoimmune reaction to the thyroid gland itself. This means you’ll have to take thyroid hormone supplements orally, usually the stable form T4 (Levaxin), which your doctor can prescribe for you. Your body will transform this into the active T3 hormone when necessary. The supplement dose should be adjusted so that you reach normal hormone levels (TSH, T3, T4) and sufficiently alleviate symptoms – though a few people feel best when keeping TSH slightly below normal.
The ketogenic diet has the potential to decrease blood glucose levels. Managing carbohydrate intake is often recommended for people with type 2 diabetes because carbohydrates turn to sugar and, in large quantities, can cause blood sugar spikes. If you already have high blood glucose, then eating too many carbs can be dangerous. By switching the focus to fat, some people experience reduced blood sugar.
Think of each almond as a natural weight-loss pill. A study of overweight and obese adults found that, combined with a calorie-restricted diet, consuming a little more than a quarter cup of the nuts can decrease weight more effectively than a snack comprised of complex carbohydrates and safflower oil—after just two weeks! (And after 24 weeks, those who ate the nuts experienced a 62% greater reduction in weight and BMI!) For optimal results, eat your daily serving before you hit the gym. A study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can actually help you burn more fat and carbs during workouts. Fill up, but don’t fill out: Use these Eat This, Not That!-recommended 10 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat.
When compared to the calorie-restrict diet, the subjects who underwent the ketogenic diet experienced a reduction three times greater in hemoglobin A1C (1.5% vs. 0.5%).  In addition to observing greater improvements in diabetes-related markers, researchers observed a greater reduction in medication usage in subjects that underwent the ketogenic diet treatment. Thus, due to their overall findings, the researchers stated that “Lifestyle modification using low carbohydrate interventions is effective for improving and reversing type 2 diabetes.” 
Adherence to the DASH-style pattern may also help prevent the development of diabetes, as analyzed in a recent meta-analysis, and kidney disease as found in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) cohort that followed more than 3700 people who developed kidney disease. [8, 9] Dietary components of DASH that were protective in the ARIC cohort included a high intake of nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. A high intake of red meat and processed meats increased kidney disease risk.
The Mediterranean diet is rooted in an abundance of fresh plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes, with olive oil being the primary source of monounsaturated fat. Fish and seafood follow as a primary source of protein with moderate amounts of poultry, dairy, and eggs to follow. Red meat and sugary treats should be consumed relatively rarely and in moderate portions.
Two additional shortcuts that can easily be worked into a DASH diet plan are meal prepping and batch cooking—both of which are important for quick, healthy eating. Meal prepping doesn’t have to mean cooking a full meal, either. It’s just preparing components that can be used to toss together a quick meal—like baking chicken breasts, roasting vegetables, and cooking a whole grain like quinoa. You can also minimize time spent in the kitchen by buying weekly salad greens, bags of pre-cut veggies, and prepping produce at the start of the week.
Bueno NB, de Melo ISV, de Oliveira SL, da Rocha Ataide T; “Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” (2013) British Journal of Nutrition 110(7): 1178-1187. Accessed 4/23/2018 https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/6FD9F975BAFF1D46F84C8BA9CE860783/S0007114513000548a.pdf/verylowcarbohydrate_ketogenic_diet_v_lowfat_diet_for_longterm_weight_loss_a_metaanalysis_of_randomised_controlled_trials.pdf
And most important, she notes: Her blood sugar is at an all-time low. About a year ago, she went to the ER because her blood sugar levels rose to between 600 and 800 mg/dL — indicating she was at risk of a diabetic coma. But now, her postprandial glucose is between 150 and 200 mg/dL. “My sugars have been on a steady decline since March,” she says. Her A1C — a two- to three-month average of blood sugar levels — also went from 10.4 to 8.7, an improvement, though still in the range for type 2 diabetes, according to according to the ADA.
Sure, nuts aren’t known for being low in calories, but they have an array of other properties—namely a high protein and fiber content—that makes them ideal for weight loss. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, Circulation, found that consuming 1.5 ounces of almonds daily (as opposed to a carb-dense muffin) along with a heart-healthy diet, helped to improve cholesterol and lipid profiles among the research participants. The study also found that eating almonds reduces belly fat, too.
First – let’s admit that there are several different types of diets that produce dramatic improvements in weight loss and diabetes. The vegan diet is one of them (and one which also reduces risk in most other diseases better than the others) – but it is by unquestionably by far the very best diet for the environment and the survival of the planet. High protein (high meat and/or dairy) diets are absolutely TERRIBLE for the environment and are not sustainable in any way. A vegetable diet will END world hunger because we DO have enough earth to grow enough vegetables for everyone and we definitely do NOT have enough earth for meat eaters even at current levels.
What to know about diet soda and diabetes Sugary drinks are a known cause of obesity and blood glucose problems, such as diabetes. Diet options are available, but are they good for people with diabetes? Artifical sweeteners may be linked to diabetes development. This MNT Knowledge Center article gives information on diet soda, sweeteners, and alternatives. Read now
The ketogenic diet may offer hope to people with type 2 diabetes who have difficulty controlling their symptoms. Not only do many people feel better with fewer diabetic symptoms, but they may also be less dependent on medications. Still, not everyone has success on this diet. Some may find the restrictions too difficult to follow over the long term. Yo-yo dieting can be dangerous for diabetes, so you should only start the ketogenic diet if you’re sure you can commit to it. A plant-based diet may be more beneficial for you both short- and long-term, so input from your dietitian and doctor can help guide your diet choice.
Essentially, the Nordic Diet is based on 10 core concepts: eating more fruits and vegetables every day; eating more whole grains; eating more seafood; choosing high-quality meat, but less meat overall; seeking out food from wild landscapes; using organic produce whenever possible; avoiding food additives; basing more meals on seasonal produce; consuming more home-cooked food; and producing less waste.
Check the nutrition labels on all your products to see if they’re high in carbs. There are hidden carbs in the unlikeliest of places (like ketchup and canned soups). Try to avoid buying products with dozens of incomprehensible ingredients. Less is usually healthier.Always check the serving sizes against the carb counts. Manufacturers can sometimes recommend inconceivably small serving sizes to seemingly reduce calorie and carb numbers.
I read in the news that the DASH diet was supposed to be THE top-rated diet by experts, so I took a closer look with this book. I was disturbed instead by recommendations of processed low fat cheeses, low fat yoplait yogurt (so much sugar and un-pronounceable ingredients I don't even understand why this was suggested), and sugar-free Jello. I prefer a whole-foods, plant-based, low processed approach - so this diet definitely isn't for me. I think I'll keep looking.
Selecting the right food will be easier as you become accustomed to the Keto approach. Instead of lean meats, you’ll focus on skin-on poultry, fattier parts like chicken thighs, rib-eye steaks, grass-fed ground beef, fattier fish like salmon, beef brisket or pork shoulder, and bacon. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and lettuce, along with broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers, make healthy vegetable choices (but you’ll avoid starchy root foods like carrots, potatoes, turnips and parsnips). You can work in less-familiar veggies such as kohlrabi or daikon.