Mastering Diabetes: Studies conducted in tens of thousands of people over 5+ years indicate that low-carbohydrate diets increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, hemorrhagic stroke, hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes mortality, obesity, cancer, and all-cause mortality (premature death). No matter how you slice it, low-carbohydrate diets trick patients and doctors into believing that ketosis is an excellent long-term dietary strategy, when in reality the consequences can be disastrous.
While it’s true that low-carb diets do raise the so-called bad LDL-cholesterol in some people, it’s important to note that LDL-C, when influenced by diet, has never been shown to have any effect on cardiovascular risk. Large clinical trials and observational studies show that one’s level of LDL-C and the lowering of LDL-C through diet is not reliably linked to cardiovascular outcomes.21, 22, 23
During the 1920s and 1930s, when the only anticonvulsant drugs were the sedative bromides (discovered 1857) and phenobarbital (1912), the ketogenic diet was widely used and studied. This changed in 1938 when H. Houston Merritt, Jr. and Tracy Putnam discovered phenytoin (Dilantin), and the focus of research shifted to discovering new drugs. With the introduction of sodium valproate in the 1970s, drugs were available to neurologists that were effective across a broad range of epileptic syndromes and seizure types. The use of the ketogenic diet, by this time restricted to difficult cases such as Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, declined further.
Researchers at Florida State University studied watermelon for its ability to regulate blood pressure due to it being “one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline”, an amino acid that the body converts into L-arginine, which improves circulation. They discovered that watermelon, due to its high L-citrulline, may prevent pre-hypertension from becoming full blown hypertension.
Perhaps the biggest thing that holds people back from following DASH is approaching it with an “all-or-nothing” attitude. However, DASH does not fall under the common “diet” approach of following an eating plan for a few weeks and then returning to your old way of eating. After all, no one’s diet is perfect. Like the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet is best viewed as a healthy way of living and eating. Making small, gradual changes in your food choices—and food quality—can help you form healthier habits for life.
Based on long-overlooked DASH research and developed into a weight loss plan by the foremost DASH dietitian and leading nutrition expert, Marla Heller, MS, RD, this effective and easy weight loss program includes menu plans, recipes, shopping lists, and more. Readers will enjoy a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat and nonfat dairy, lean meats/fish/poultry, nuts/beans/seeds, heart healthy fats, and limited amounts of whole grains. The result: improved metabolism, lower body fat, improved strength and cardiovascular fitness, without counting calories. And, of course the DASH diet can lower cholesterol and blood pressure without medication!
“During physiological ketosis ketonemia reaches maximum levels of 7/8 mmol/L with no change in pH while in uncontrolled diabetic ketoacidosis it can exceed 20 mmol/L with a concomitant lowering of blood pH. Blood levels of ketone bodies in healthy people do not exceed 8 mmol/L precisely because the central nervous system (CNS) efficiently uses these molecules for energy in place of glucose,” researchers summarize.
Pros: Compared to eating a traditional diet, switching to a low-carb diet can significantly reduce body fat, studies show. Cap your carb intake at 20% of daily calories and the weight-loss results are even stronger—plus, you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Some research suggests low-carb diets are even better than low-fat diets: One study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who limited their carbs lost eight more pounds than those who cut back on fat. If you cut back on carbs enough, your body learns to burn fat as fuel instead. Studies are mixed on how low-carb diets affect performance, but some evidence suggests that endurance performance can actually improve among people whose bodies adapt to fat-burning fairly easily.
At the end of this 12 week study, scientists observed similar loss in body fat and overall body weight in all three diets. However, they noted that the VLCARB ketogenic diet was “more effective in improving tracylglycerols, HDL cholesterol, fasting and post-meal glucose and insulin concentrations. More specifically, triacylglycerols decreased by 39.9% in VLCARB subjects, 4.0% in VLF subjects, and 9.6% in HUF subjects. 
Several comprehensive studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated that after a few months or even a year of a low carb diet versus a moderate/high carb diet, there are no significant differences in the amount of weight lost (2,3,4,5). I will say, however, most of these diets are NOT keto and are simply lower carb (i.e. 20%). Also, long-term effects (beyond 1 year) are not often studied due to budgetary constraints, so interpret results as you wish.
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.
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.
Eating out is possible on the DASH Diet, but proceed with caution. Restaurant meals are notoriously salty, oversized and fatty, so you’ll need to be conscientious if you dine out. NHLBI suggests avoiding salt by shunning pickled, cured or smoked items; limiting condiments; choosing fruits or vegetables instead of soup; and requesting the chef find other ways to season your meal. You can also drink alcohol moderately on the DASH Diet.
When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.