Forget old low-carb diet plans that focused on processed protein bars and shakes. This year, the keto diet got high marks for low carb. Keto, short for "ketogenic," is all about training the body to burn fat for fuel. How? By eating fat—and lots of it. Most keto diets recommend getting at least 70 percent of your daily calories from fat and the rest from protein. The goal is to eat as few carbohydrates as possible. Proponents say it helps them drop weight fast with little or no hunger in addition to perks like more energy and mental clarity. (Interested? Here's everything you need to know about the keto diet.)
Moreover, the ketogenic diet also reliably raise the “good” HDL-cholesterol, while also improving most other cardiovascular markers, including blood pressure, as this study shows.24 Thus, the overall effect on cholesterol and other markers for heart disease is positive. In some lean hyper-responders, a keto diet will increase LDL particle number, and this effect needs further investigation.
It’s the same with a keto way of eating: there is a ton of research and studies out there, and we KNOW that it works. Sure, more studies will come, and the new information will help us refine it, and we will learn how it specifically affects certain individuals in different ways…but the truth about the basics of it are all there, in the open, for all to see.
The ketone bodies are possibly anticonvulsant; in animal models, acetoacetate and acetone protect against seizures. The ketogenic diet results in adaptive changes to brain energy metabolism that increase the energy reserves; ketone bodies are a more efficient fuel than glucose, and the number of mitochondria is increased. This may help the neurons to remain stable in the face of increased energy demand during a seizure, and may confer a neuroprotective effect.
But beyond that, experts aren't convinced that the keto diet has any other scientifically-proven health benefits. In fact, it may have some distinct downsides. If you follow the keto diet incorrectly, for example (like by eating lots of saturated fats, versus healthy unsaturated fats), you're at risk of raising your cholesterol levels. “The best strategy to keep your heart healthy is to get as much fat as possible from unsaturated sources such as olive, avocado and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives," says Ansel.
Several recent studies indicate that a low-carbohydrate diet is effective at improving glycemia. A few studies have shown that in non-diabetic individuals, low-carbohydrate diets were more effective than higher carbohydrate diets at improving fasting serum glucose [13,14] and insulin [6,14-16], and at improving insulin sensitivity as measured by the homeostasis model . One of these studies also included diabetic patients and noted a comparative improvement in hemoglobin A1c after 6 months (low fat diet: 0.0 ± 1.0%; low carbohydrate diet: -0.6 ± 1.2%, p = 0.06)  and 12 months (low fat diet: -0.1 ± 1.6%; low carbohydrate diet: -0.7 ± 1.0%, p = 0.019) duration . In a 5-week crossover feeding study, 8 men with type 2 diabetes had greater improvement in fasting glucose, 24-hour glucose area-under-the-curve (AUC), 24-hour insulin AUC, and glycohemoglobin while on the low-carbohydrate diet than when on a eucaloric low-fat diet . In a 14-day inpatient feeding study, 10 participants with type 2 diabetes experienced improvements in hemoglobin A1c and insulin sensitivity as measured by the euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp method . Hemoglobin A1c also improved in an outpatient study of 16 participants who followed a 20% carbohydrate diet for 24 weeks .
In the study, the researchers fed mice a ketogenic diet for several days and expected to find a favorable outcome — perhaps weight loss or another indication of improved health. Instead, they found that the liver began resisting insulin almost immediately and the mice were unable to regulate their blood sugar levels after only three days on the diet. (Insulin resistance, meaning that cells in the body don't respond to insulin, is a key characteristic of 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.
What the diet advocate says: ‘It essentially means scaling your carbohydrate intake up and down in accordance with your activity levels,’ explains performance nutritionist Liam Holmes (phnutrition.co.uk). He uses the principles of nutrient timing to get elite athletes and CrossFit enthusiasts to their leanest before competitions. ‘The body works harder when it doesn’t have carbs as fuel, so it learns to become a more efficient burner of the fuel once it is there.’
In terms of weight loss, you may be interested in trying the ketogenic diet because you’ve heard that it can make a big impact right away. And that’s true. “Ketogenic diets will cause you to lose weight within the first week,” says Mattinson. She explains that your body will first use up all of its glycogen stores (the storage form of carbohydrate). With depleted glycogen, you’ll drop water weight. While it can be motivating to see the number on the scale go down (often dramatically), do keep in mind that most of this is water loss initially.
She recommends eating outdoors, using our lunch hour to incorporate a half-hour walk with a friend, turning off electronics at meals, and stepping outside for walk after meals. I have to tell you, I felt like I was 12 when we put the “no electronics” rule back into play at my home. Dessert used to be my thing after dinner, now it’s taking a walk around the neighborhood with my son or girlfriend.
Mike, that’s exactly right! With T2, we no longer have the option of eating carbs, sugar and all the good stuff. Why can’t dieticians and the ADA recognize that and quit trying to shove all those carbs down our throats? I don’t get it… I seriously don’t. And I think the author of this article would do an about face is she actually had diabetes. It’s amazing the amount of people who claim to be experts that seriously don’t get it!! It I had Celiac Disease, I couldn’t eat gluten… at all. Why is the same not recognized for diabetics? Our meters show us when we are eating too many carbs. Its VERY clear as the number goes very high. What do the professionals not get about that? It’s been the most amazing thing about this whole process for me and I just can’t believe how biased people are against a very low carb diet for managing diabetes. You think that because people can’t maintain that kind of diet for long term makes it OK to go ahead and be against it? Did it ever occur to any of the professionals that by recommending a low carb diet it might actually encourage people to maintain it? Instead, you are giving them excuses and reasons to eat way too many carbs!! Last August 2016 I was diagnosed with T2, with an A1C of 12.7. My last blood test showed an A1C of 6.2 (July 2017) and I had reduced some of the meds I was originally on. I am still working on lowering my numbers. The whole process has been a slow progression to keto and I had to stumble on the whole thing myself through my own research. I tried vegan at first and quickly realized that I was eating too many carbs. Then I went low carb but knew I could do better. When I tried the Keto diet, my numbers went much lower. You get over the sweet addictions. You get over the bread addictions and you find suitable substitutions. You do what you have to do. But by not recommending an ultra low carb diet simply because you don’t think people can do it is ridiculous! It is basically telling people that they can’t possibly manage their own lives… they can’t possibly make their own, good choices. And then, because you are the authority, you are giving them reasons to not even try. You defeat them before they even begin. It just amazes me!
What the expert says: ‘Over 50 years ago researchers realised they didn’t have to restrict energy every day and they still got a protective effect. In animals, these diets were shown to reduce visceral fat, oxidative stress and reduce cell proliferation, which is involved with the development of cancer. The models that were used in humans were two consecutive days of 650kcal then five days following a normal, healthy diet, versus a healthy med diet of 1500kcal.
There’s been no poultry or red meat so far in the menu, so plan for two dinners a week incorporating these animal foods instead of fish. Eat with family or friends, whenever possible, and listen to music instead of watching TV. Enjoy a glass of red wine with your meal; a moderate intake gives you polyphenols -- natural compounds in grapes -- that may protect you from heart disease, cognitive problems and even cancer.
The MIND diet, or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, is a sort of hybrid between the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. It features foods meant to slow the progression or development of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia and an incurable neurodegenerative condition that more than 5 million Americans are living with, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. (12) Some research backs up this notion, including a study published in September 2016 in Alzheimer’s Dementia that found a link between following the MIND Diet and a reduced risk of the disease. (13)
If you’ve decided to move forward in trying the keto diet, you will want to stick to the parameters of the eating plan. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of your calories will come from fats. That means you’ll eat meats, fats, and oils, and a very limited amount of nonstarchy vegetables, she says. (This is different from a traditional low-carb diet, as even fewer carbs are allowed on the keto diet.)