Can I Do Keto if I Have Type 2 Diabetes?

According to the CDC, type 2 diabetes (T2D) has been diagnosed in 33-35 million of the 37 million Americans living with diabetes. That’s a scary statistic and the numbers continue to increase. It’s no surprise that most of us know someone who is afflicted with the disease. Naturally, considerable research is devoted to rooting out the causes, finding treatments, and preventing the disease altogether.

I’ve been an advocate for all of the health benefits associated with the keto diet since it’s been so helpful for me. Can type 2 diabetes patients follow keto and will it help? Let’s dive into the potential of keto in fighting type 2 diabetes.

What are the Characteristics of Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when your fasting blood sugar is greater than 126 or you have a hemoglobin A1C (your average blood sugar over the past three months) of 6.5% or higher. But, these aren’t the only things to take into consideration when diagnosing someone with diabetes. The Mayo Clinic also lists the following as symptoms:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss (even though you may be eating more)
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet
  • Frequent infections, such as gum or skin infections and vaginal yeast infections

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible.

What is Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as T2D. If you have prediabetes, you are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

The good news is that if you have prediabetes, the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. While family history and ethnic background are beyond your control there are other factors that are firmly within your grasp. You can make a difference if you reduce your weight by 5-7%, eat unprocessed foods, and exercise at least 150 minutes weekly.

Insulin Resistance

Diabetes causes your body to become insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas that allows your cells to take in glucose (sugar) from the food you eat and use it for energy or store it for later. When you have diabetes, your pancreas still secretes insulin but your cells don’t respond to it properly. This causes a build-up of sugar in your blood which, over time, can damage your kidneys, heart, eyes, and nerves.

There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is usually diagnosed in childhood and is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks and kills the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Type 1 diabetics must take insulin injections for the rest of their lives. Type 2 diabetes results from lifestyle choices and genetics. With type 2, the pancreas still produces insulin but it’s not being used properly by the cells.

The primary difference between the two types is that type 2 diabetics can often improve their condition by making lifestyle changes while type 1 diabetics must take insulin injections for the rest of their lives.

Risk Factors for Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes?

There are a variety of risk factors that contribute to the prediabetes and development of type 2 diabetes including:

  • Age 45+
  • Family history
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

How to Prevent Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as T2D. If you have prediabetes, you are at increased risk of developing T2D, heart disease, and stroke.

The good news is that if you have prediabetes, the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay T2D. While family history and ethnic background are beyond your control there are other factors that are firmly within your grasp.

Weight reduction of 5-7%, eating unprocessed foods, and exercising at least 150 minutes weekly are all things you can do to make a difference.

Keto and Type 2 Diabetes

Now that we’ve looked at the causes and symptoms of prediabetes and T2D, let’s talk about how the keto diet can help.

The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with T2D. When you eat a ketogenic diet, your body enters a state of nutritional ketosis, which is when your body starts burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

The keto diet produces a metabolic state that is the opposite of what happens in diabetes. In diabetes, your body burns carbohydrates for energy instead of fat, which leads to a build-up of sugar in the blood. In ketosis, your body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, which helps to lower blood sugar levels.

Medical research published in 2020 evaluated 13 different studies and concluded the following:

“Based on a meta-analysis that systematically reviewed 13 relevant studies, we found that the ketogenic diet can not only control fasting blood glucose and reduce glycosylated hemoglobin but also improve lipid metabolism. Additionally, the ketogenic diet can reduce BMI and body weight. Therefore, the ketogenic diet may be used as part of the integrated management of type 2 diabetes.”

The keto diet can reduce risk factors for prediabetes and help mitigate T2D. Before you embark on self-prescribing keto to treat your condition, always consult in advance. Everyone’s different and your personal medical history and situation are unique and need to be considered to establish an effective plan.

Keto May Help Your T2D

Following keto means shifting your body’s energy source from carbohydrates to fat. It’s helped me manage my weight and stay healthy for years. I don’t suffer from T2D but with a virtual epidemic of the disease, I think it’s vital to explore ways that can improve outcomes and possibly rescue people from a life of medications.

Keto can clearly reduce many of the risk factors so consider it as part of your treatment when you talk to your doctor. If you get a green light, I can help you transition to keto and get you started on the lifestyle that changed my life. Reach out to me at eat@thekelliekichen.com when you’re ready. I’m always here to offer support.

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