A slew of articles in recent months have referred to the ketogenic diet as a “fad” or “trend.” It’s “dangerous,” claimed one article, and an anonymous post by the Harvard Public School of Public Health said the diet “comes with serious risks.”1 Yet strangely, these critics seldom cite scientists or doctors who work with the diet, and many—including the Harvard article—cite no medical literature to substantiate their allegations. Without substantiation, many simply rehash long-contradicted, outdated claims.
“This is a good example of a study where you should not directly apply the information to what you are eating as an individual,” Stefanski says. “The research is interesting, but the study period examined was only three days. While this study showed insulin resistance, it did not in fact show that the mice had diabetes. Making the leap from the results of this study to a headline that concludes a ketogenic diet will cause type 2 diabetes is not supported.”
I’m Dr. Caroline Apovian–the medical nutrition expert for DASH for Health. I bring over a decade of experience in helping people lose weight to the DASH diet program. I use the successes my patients have had to help the people using this system achieve healthy weight loss. You won’t find any claims here that weight loss is easy and effortless, but the DASH diet makes it simple. When you first log in, you will calculate how many calories you should be eating each day. From there, you will get access to your DASH eating plan. You can track your food intake, exercise and weight all in the DASH for Health system. Also, you can receive real-time progress reports that show you how you are doing.
In addition, on the day the diet was initiated, diabetes medications were reduced – generally, insulin doses were halved, and sulfonylurea doses were halved or discontinued. Due to the possible diuretic effects of the diet soon after initiation, diuretic medications were discontinued if of low dosage (up to 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide or 20 mg of furosemide) or halved if of higher dosage. Participants were also instructed to take a standard multivitamin and drink 6–8 glasses of water daily, and were encouraged to exercise aerobically for 30 minutes at least three times per week.
Over 8–10 mmol/l: It’s normally impossible to get to this level just by eating a keto diet. It means that something is wrong. The most common cause by far is type 1 diabetes, with severe lack of insulin. Symptoms include feeling very sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and confusion. The possible end result, ketoacidosis, may be fatal and requires immediate medical care. Learn more
1. Lasting weight loss. How can a diet that features nuts, oils, pasta, bread, and wine help you lose weight? Because it makes you feel full and therefore holds hunger at bay. The healthy fats and protein in the Mediterranean diet keep your glucose (blood sugar) level on an even keel, which means you'll be less apt to hunt down chips, cookies, or fast food to get through the day.
The fad military diet consists of low-calorie, odd food pairings such as bun-less hot dogs with banana, carrots, and broccoli. “Any diet like the military diet that severely limits the amount of calories you consume or eliminates one or more entire food groups puts any individual at risk for nutrient deficiencies,” says Kyle. “This can be more harmful than holding onto those 10 extra lb you’re trying to lose.” (32)
Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.
Insulin is released in the blood and used to control blood sugar levels including signaling the liver to stop producing sugar. If this system is impaired and the body does not use insulin properly, which is called insulin resistance, individuals are likely to develop high blood sugar levels. In this study the researchers showed that for ketogenic diets this process for controlling blood sugar levels does not work properly and there was insulin resistance in the liver. When the liver is unable to respond to normal levels of insulin to control blood sugar levels this may lead to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
"Even though it's called the Mediterranean diet, it's not really a diet," said Atlanta registered dietitian Rahaf Al Bochi, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "It doesn't tell you what to eat and not eat. It's a lifestyle that encourages consuming all food groups but gives more weight to those which have the most health benefits."
In the study, researchers fed mice (!) a keto diet for three days (!), and then ran a glucose tolerance test. They noticed that while the mice on a keto diet had a lower fasting blood glucose, it got higher after the glucose tolerance test and there were signs of a reduced effect of insulin compared to mice on regular mouse chow. That’s basically it.
In regard to serum measurements, the mean fasting glucose decreased by 17% from 9.08 ± 4.09 mmol/L at baseline to 7.57 ± 2.63 mmol/L at week 16 (p = 0.04) (Table (Table4).4). Serum sodium and chloride levels increased significantly, but only by 1% and 3%, respectively. Uric acid level decreased by 10% (p = 0.01). Serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001). Increases occurred in both high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (8%) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (10%) but these changes were of borderline statistical significance (p = 0.08 and p = 0.1, respectively). The following blood tests did not change significantly: total cholesterol, potassium, bicarbonate, urea nitrogen, creatinine, calcium, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and hemoglobin.
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.