Ketogenic diet (“keto” diet for short) is a catch-all term for any diet that pushes your body into the natural metabolic state of ketosis, which means burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Though there’s no set formula for keto, generally, the diet works by cutting back on carbohydrates, to about 20 g of net carbs to start, and replacing those with mostly fat and a moderate amount of protein, according to the popular website Keto Connect. Net carbs are the total number of carbs minus the fiber and sugar alcohols, according to the Atkins website. (More on this diet later.)
Aude, Y., A. S, Agatston, F. Lopez-Jimenez, et al. “The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet vs a Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat: A Randomized Trial.” JAMA Internal Medicine 164, no. 19 (2004): 2141–46. doi: 10.1001/archinte.164.19.2141. jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/217514.
Throughout this article, we looked at the data and the principles behind how low-carb dieting affect patients with diabetes, but we never addressed what you can do about it directly. If you’d like to learn about practical strategies that may help you reverse insulin resistance and improve your blood sugar and HbA1C levels, I recommend reading these articles:
Elena Paravantes, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Writer and consultant specializing in the Greek Mediterranean Diet and Cuisine. She has been active as a clinician, consultant and lecturer for 20 years, both in the U.S. and Greece. An expert on the Greek Mediterranean Diet, her interviews and articles have been published in many publications including CNN, U.S. News and World Report, Prevention, NPR, and Shape. Elena has collaborated with a number of organizations including Loyola University, Yale University, University of Missouri, Louisiana State University, and the American College of Greece.
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.
Changing your body’s primary energy source from carbohydrates to fat causes an increase in ketones in the blood. This “dietary ketosis” is different from ketoacidosis, which is an extremely dangerous condition. When you have too many ketones, you may be at risk for developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is most prevalent in type 1 diabetes when blood glucose is too high and can arise from a lack of insulin. Although rare, DKA is a possibility in type 2 diabetes if ketones are too high. Being ill while on a low-carb diet may also increase your risk for DKA.
I suffered through a year on 20 grams of carbs per day and it was the worst year of my life. Yep, I lost weight, but at my current weight of 130 lbs and eating 30 carbs per meal and remaining in a prediabetes state for 15 years, I am healthy AND happy now. None of us know the long term effects of most of what is offered to us…medications, diet drinks, processed foods, restrictive diets. The point I was trying to make was eating healthier, more natural foods will be better in the long run, I believe we all have the common sense to agree on that, even if we can’t agree on how many carbs we will eat!
DASH stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension." The diet was developed out of a study by the National Institutes of Health after researchers noticed that vegetarians tended to have lower rates of high blood pressure. Understanding that sodium intake affected blood pressure, researchers also believed that these levels may also be impacted by other nutrients in plant-based diets.
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.
The DASH eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in just 14 days, even without lowering sodium intake. Best response came in people whose blood pressure was only moderately high, including those with prehypertension. For people with more severe hypertension, who may not be able to eliminate medication, the DASH diet can help improve response to medication, and help lower blood pressure. The DASH diet can help lower cholesterol, and with weight loss and exercise, can reduce insulin resistance and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
3. Diabetes prevention. In a new Annals of Internal Medicine study, 215 type 2 diabetics were asked to follow either a low-fat or a Mediterranean diet. After four years only 44 percent of the Mediterranean group needed diabetes medication -- but 70 percent of the low-fat eaters did. The Med dieters also lost more weight. Other research shows that the diet helps people with pre-diabetes lower their blood sugar enough to avoid developing full-blown type 2 diabetes.
If you’re looking to get a jump start on your health and fitness goals this year, you may be thinking about trying the ketogenic diet. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase before — it’s a huge diet buzzword — but aren’t sure what it means. Here’s a primer: The ketogenic diet is an eating plan that drives your body into ketosis, a state where the body uses fat as a primary fuel source (instead of carbohydrates), says Stacey Mattinson, RDN, who is based in Austin, Texas.