It appears that a ketogenic diet is generally safe when implemented correctly. One must be careful to obtain all the necessary nutrients by eating a variety of foods, such as non-starchy vegetables, seeds, and nuts, and also consume adequate protein and essential fatty acids. Provided that the need for vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids is met, there is no reason to suspect that the ketogenic diet is unsafe.
Despite the promising evidence, we must remain skeptical. A few studies can only provide us with clues as to what might be the better dietary intervention for people with type 2 diabetes. To find out if carb restriction can take the throne as the most effective type 2 diabetes diet, we must look at the bigger picture of the data with the help of high-quality meta-analyses.
The low glycaemic index treatment (LGIT)[48] is an attempt to achieve the stable blood glucose levels seen in children on the classic ketogenic diet while using a much less restrictive regimen. The hypothesis is that stable blood glucose may be one of the mechanisms of action involved in the ketogenic diet,[9] which occurs because the absorption of the limited carbohydrates is slowed by the high fat content.[5] Although it is also a high-fat diet (with approximately 60% calories from fat),[5] the LGIT allows more carbohydrate than either the classic ketogenic diet or the modified Atkins diet, approximately 40–60 g per day.[3] However, the types of carbohydrates consumed are restricted to those that have a glycaemic index lower than 50. Like the modified Atkins diet, the LGIT is initiated and maintained at outpatient clinics and does not require precise weighing of food or intensive dietitian support. Both are offered at most centres that run ketogenic diet programmes, and in some centres they are often the primary dietary therapy for adolescents.[9]
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There are three instances where there’s research to back up a ketogenic diet, including to help control type 2 diabetes, as part of epilepsy treatment, or for weight loss, says Mattinson. “In terms of diabetes, there is some promising research showing that the ketogenic diet may improve glycemic control. It may cause a reduction in A1C — a key test for diabetes that measures a person’s average blood sugar control over two to three months — something that may help you reduce medication use,” she says.
Klein S, Sheard NF, Pi-Sunyer S, Daly A, Wylie-Rosett J, Kulkarni K, Clark NG. Weight management through lifestyle modification for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes: rationale and strategies. A statement of the American Diabetes Association, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80:257–263. [PubMed]
Urine ketone data were missing in a median of 4 participants (range 0–8) at any given visit. The proportion of participants with a urine ketone reading greater than trace was 1 of 17 participants at baseline, 5 of 17 participants at week 2, and similar frequencies at subsequent visits until week 14 when 2 of 18 participants had readings greater than trace and week 16 when 2 of 21 participants had readings greater than trace. During the study, only 27 of 151 urine ketone measurements were greater than trace, with one participant accounting for all 7 occurrences of the highest urine ketone reading (large160).
The ketogenic diet is calculated by a dietitian for each child. Age, weight, activity levels, culture and food preferences all affect the meal plan. First, the energy requirements are set at 80–90% of the recommended daily amounts (RDA) for the child's age (the high-fat diet requires less energy to process than a typical high-carbohydrate diet). Highly active children or those with muscle spasticity require more calories than this; immobile children require less. The ketogenic ratio of the diet compares the weight of fat to the combined weight of carbohydrate and protein. This is typically 4:1, but children who are younger than 18 months, older than 12 years, or who are obese may be started on a 3:1 ratio. Fat is energy-rich, with 9 kcal/g (38 kJ/g) compared to 4 kcal/g (17 kJ/g) for carbohydrate or protein, so portions on the ketogenic diet are smaller than normal. The quantity of fat in the diet can be calculated from the overall energy requirements and the chosen ketogenic ratio. Next, the protein levels are set to allow for growth and body maintenance, and are around 1 g protein for each kg of body weight. Lastly, the amount of carbohydrate is set according to what allowance is left while maintaining the chosen ratio. Any carbohydrate in medications or supplements must be subtracted from this allowance. The total daily amount of fat, protein and carbohydrate is then evenly divided across the meals.[36]
This diet plan will be especially important for people with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, or diabetes. Post menopausal women will find that this plans helps them lose that extra midlife weight that is so troublesome. It will reduce your body's demand for insulin, and reduce the tendency to deposit fat in your midsection. Yes, that's right - this plan will reduce your waist size, which is an important indicator of health risks.
A relatively new offering, the Nutritarian diet is based on maximizing the amount of healthy vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients in your food, balancing your hormones, and avoiding toxins. The plan—created by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of The End of Dieting—is nutrient-dense, plant-rich, and includes anti-cancer superfoods to help you not just lose weight but live a long, disease-free life. (P.S. Follow these guidelines to make sure you're absorbing all the nutrients from your food.)
Lele Jaro has been on a ketogenic diet for over two years to help with her type 2 diabetes, and has successfully got off insulin. She’s been documenting her health journey on Instagram with keto-friendly food ideas, keto tips, and workout motivation. She’s lost over 80 pounds on her journey, and inspires others to try keto to improve their health. Connect with her on her YouTube channel or Facebook.
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?
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