Ketogenic Diet for Diabetics

(Last Updated On: January 18, 2017)

What is ketogenic diet for diabetes



etogenic diet is essentially a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates. A classic ketogenic diet consist of a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio. Three to four parts fat to one part protein and carbohydrates. All starchy foods, fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta, grains and sugar are removed. Fats such as meats, cheese, cream, butter and nuts are added.

Ketogenic diet have been around for a long time. It was created to mimic the effects of fasting, a practice used for the treatment of epilepsy in the 1920’s. As a matter of fact, dieting is probably the oldest medical treatment known to man. Fasting have been used at least since 500 B.C.  Dr. Wilder at the Mayo Clinic proposed that the benefits of fasting were due to ketosis; the conversion of water soluble molecules from fat by the liver.

Fasting have been used to treat epilepsy with good results for centuries. No one knows the real reason behind why fasting works so well to combat epilepsy but it does work. A study from John Hopkins University, Livingston in 1972 reported on the results of over 1,000 children with epilepsy. The children had 52% fewer seizures after one year. On forth of the children had a reduction of 90%. After a few years on the diet, many children could be off medication entirely.

Ketogenic diet changes our body energy absorption in dramatic ways. It alters the metabolism in ways that can be good to combat diabetes. These changes are in line with what is needed to control and/or reverse diabetes. Ketogenic diet has a two prong effect on diabetes: lowering carbohydrates reduces insulin need, and eating more fat reduces the need to carbohydrates in excess. 

Ketogenic diet and diabetes

Carbohydrate restriction and weight loss is a top priority in diabetes but it is a difficult process. Diabetics struggle with what foods they can, and cannot eat. Loosing weight is the first step to control diabetes. Too much emphasis however is placed on calorie count. This is almost an impossible balancing act which can soon fall apart. It is almost impossible to follow all the dietary restrictions while the body continues to crave carbohydrates. Ketogenic diet makes the craving go away because eating fat produces greater levels of satiety resulting in less eating.

It is hard to over eat if you are eating fatty foods. Fat is the most dense nutrient there is. The caloric value of fat is more the twice of carbohydrate. One gram of fat has 9 calories while protein and carbohydrates has 4 calories. Your brain send satiety signals according to caloric intake, so after you eat a small portion of a meal heavy in fats, you feel full. Carbohydrates will quickly send the “eat more” signal. You feel like you need to constantly eat.

Carbohydrates are less caloric dense and occupy more space, making your stomach stretch. By stretching frequently your stomach becomes larger and you become more hungrier. Satiety from carbohydrates comes in part from signals as your stomach is full. A larger stomach takes more food to fell satiated. So in a sense ketogenic diet has a build in curb to how much food you should eat. Fats occupy less space and therefore does not enlarge your stomach.

A low carbohydrate and high fat diet also produces less insulin. Less insulin means that less glucose must be on board. Less glucose, less insulin, and subsequently less fat storage. When we eat carbohydrates, the blood is quickly loaded with glucose. Insulin spikes up in order to remove the glucose as fast as possible. Fat in the other hand stays in the blood for longer but does not require insulin release. The break down into energy happens in the liver.

The liver makes energy from fat in a process called gluconogenesis. This is another bonus because it takes energy to convert fat into energy. This energy will come out of the net energy balance. That translates into more fat burning potential. This is good news for those who need to lose weight but are not able to exercise much. i.e. elderly, handicapped and obese individuals.

So you are recommending eating fat – are you crazy?

Yes. It does sound crazy after we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that fat is the most evil food you can possibly eat. This idea that fat is bad is so old it is second nature to all of us. No doctor would ever recommend that you start eating fats. If anything they’ll get you started on lipitor as soon as possible.

The idea that saturated fats causes heart disease was a hypothesis developed in the early 1950’s by Ancel Benjamin Keys, a biologist and pathologist from the University of Minnesota. This idea was born a midst an epidemic of heart attacks in the United States. The nation was thirsty for answers. The idea that eating fat would clog your arteries was a easy one to sell. It also seemed logical and intuitive that eating fat, would make you fat. Nothing has been proved.

Keys hypothesis were never fully tested conclusively. His studies were filled with errors and biases. He would only pick population samples which favored his hypothesis. Many scientists were skeptical at the time but keys gained momentum due to a number of circumstances. Among them it seemed so logical that saturated fat would cause heart problems; but his main support came from the vegetable oil industry. An industry with anemic profits saw an huge opportunity as the nation changed from saturated fats with hydrogenated oils. The idea solidified when it gained support from the government. Fats have been stripped from every single food item available.

Today there is an avalanche of research and studies pointing to lack of evidence linking hear disease to saturated fats. To the contrary some studies indicate that serious health problems such as diabetes and obesity, begun precisely when hydrogenated oils and carbohydrates entered our diet. No only we switched fats for vegetable oils. We begun our love affair with carbohydrates and sugars. During the 80’s basically all carbohydrates including sweets were a OK choice as long as you don’t eat fat. All of this with the full endorsement from every reputable health institution and the government.


Ketogenic diet might bring benefits to everyone and specially diabetics. Find out for yourself. You can start a high fat diet and remove carbohydrates and see if you loose weight. If you do you know you’re in the right track. A good understanding of this diet is needed before you start, so read more about it. Some have reported weight loss, feeling great and energized while their cholesterol have not changed. Many report an increased in HDL (the good cholesterol). Studies have linked low HDL with heart attacks rather then high LDL (bad cholesterol).





  1. History of the ketogenic diet
  2. Therapeutic role of low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in diabetes
  3. Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes
  4. Reversal of Diabetic Nephropathy by a Ketogenic Diet
  5. Low-carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes. Stable improvement of
    bodyweight and glycemic control during 22 months follow-up
  6. The effect of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a 12 month
    randomised controlled trial
  7. A Randomized Pilot Trial of a Moderate Carbohydrate Diet Compared to a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet in Overweight or Obese Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes
    Mellitus or Prediabetes



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In Category: DIABETES

Marcos Taquechel

Marcos is an RN. Thanks for stopping by and reading my posts. I hope you are able to get something useful out of this blog. Take good care of yourself and don't worry about anything until you have something to worry about.

Show 1 Comment
  • jocelyn May 31, 2015, 07:41

    Ketogenic diets are best for diabetic patients who want to lose weight. However, to make it more effective, you should couple it with a great workout program such as weight lifting.

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