The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (LCKD) in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes over 16 weeks. Specifically, we wanted to learn the diet's effects on glycemia and diabetes medication use in outpatients who prepared (or bought) their own meals. In a previous article, we reported the results observed in 7 individuals ; this report includes data from those 7 individuals along with data from additional participants enrolled subsequently.
The Keto diet versus Plate Method study triggered some challenges and a bit of criticism. In an editorial, Andrew Reynolds, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Otago, New Zealand, suggests that the much better results in those on the ketogenic diet may be due not to the diet itself but to the lifestyle changes and ongoing support that keto diet group received.5
That makes a lot of sense. Keeping up insulin pathways when you aren’t eating carbs would be like keeping the lights on when it’s daytime outside — it’s a waste of energy. You aren’t using insulin on keto, so your body probably downregulates your insulin pathways. As a refresher, insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that tells your cells to absorb glucose to use as fuel. When you eat carbs, insulin production begins. In the absence of carbs, there’s less need for insulin.
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's important to note that the drop-out rate was substantial and reports of symptomatic hypoglycemia 1-5 episodes) were experienced by 69% of those in the study. The mean carbohydrate intake was 35 grams (+/- 15) daily. Based on self-reported results, the change in HbA1c was -1.45% (+/- 1.04, P < 0.001) with an average HbA1c of 7.2% associated with greater hypoglycemia; yet, these results are comparable to other study findings. The average blood glucose levels were 104 mg/dL (+/- 16). 2 Final lipid profiles were mixed. The results were similar for adults and children.
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat dietary regimen which has been linked to improvements in insulin sensitivity and higher rates of weight loss — both positive factors in managing type 2 diabetes. Lowering carb intake induces a metabolic state known as ketosis, through which the body produces ketones which burn fat — rather than carbohydrates — for energy.
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.
The Mediterranean diet is easy to find in the grocery store, contains nutrients that are known to enhance longevity and has other health benefits that are backed by peer-reviewed, scientific studies. Broccoli makes the list because it's one of nature's most nutrient-dense foods, with only 30 calories per cup. That means you get a ton of hunger-curbing fiber and polyphenols -- antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging chemicals in your body -- with each serving.
When the data were examined, it was clear that people who ate a diet where fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, and ﬁsh were the basis of daily meals were healthiest. Topping the chart were residents of Crete. Even after the deprivations of World War II – and in part, perhaps, because of them – the cardiovascular health of Crete residents exceeded that of US residents. Researchers attributed the diﬀerences to diet.
The Mediterranean diet might help you lose weight. While some people fear that eating a diet like the Mediterranean diet that is relatively rich in fats (think olive oil, olives, avocado and some cheese) will keep them fat, more and more research is suggesting the opposite is true. Of course, it depends on which aspects you adopt and how it compares to your current diet. If, for instance, you build a "calorie deficit" into your plan – eating fewer calories than your daily recommended max or burning off extra by exercising – you should shed some pounds. How quickly and whether you keep them off is up to you.
Many diet plans cut out entire food groups, which can create nutrient deficiencies as well as health problems. For instance, if the diet is very low in carbohydrates and you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it’s probably not a good fit. And if it’s too restrictive and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not a good idea, either. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not a time for weight loss. Speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Ketones are frequently produced in healthy individuals–sometimes this is due to fasting (even just overnight), or as a result of eating a very low carbohydrate diet. With normal blood glucose levels, the ketone concentrations observed during ketosis are generally not harmful. The ketones are simply a byproduct of fatty acid metabolism, serving up an alternative energy source when glucose stores are low.
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?