What is the Ketogenic Diet?
If you're a diabetic who's interested in getting your blood sugar under control, then you should definitely consider a ketogenic diet. It's a low-carb, high-fat diet. In order to experience its full benefits, you must reduce your carbs and increase your fat intake, as this will cause your body to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis.
When the body is in a state of ketosis it starts to become very efficient at burning fat for energy. Also, your insulin and blood sugar levels are dramatically reduced. Let's take a moment to discuss how a keto diet can affect your blood sugar, weight loss, how you should exercise on a ketogenic diet, it's pros and cons, and how safe this diet is for diabetics. Want to know more? Here are the top 15 things to know about low carb diets.
How does a Keto diet affect blood sugar?
In order to fully understand how a Keto diet can affect blood sugar, we must first become familiar with how a healthy body processes blood sugar. We should also understand how this process changes for people who have diabetes. Here's how the process works:
Whenever we eat carbohydrates it has a direct impact on our blood glucose. Any food that contains carbs, such as juice, candy, and fruit, are broken down into simple sugars. This even includes starchy foods that aren't necessarily sweet such as bread and potatoes.
Once these foods are broken down into simple sugars a metabolic process takes place and they transform into glucose. This is what leads to a rise in blood glucose levels. When the beta cells in the pancreas sense this rise, it causes the pancreas to release insulin.
Blood Glucose in a Healthy Body
If the body is functioning properly, when blood glucose levels increase, it will secrete insulin. The body will then remove blood sugar from the bloodstream. It can either store it away for later or use it immediately as energy.
If glucose isn't used immediately, it can either be stored in the liver or the muscles. Any excess glucose will transform into fatty acids. And ultimately, it will be stored as fat.
Once the body has managed to clear the bloodstream of glucose, blood sugar levels will go back to normal. The beta cells will sense the change and will stop producing insulin.
Blood Glucose in Diabetics
While the process is rather seamless in a healthy body, it's a little more complicated when you're a diabetic. When it comes to converting food into energy, diabetics have a difficult time balancing blood sugar. Either the body doesn't make insulin, which is type 1 diabetes, or the body is completely resistant to it because there's too much circulating through the system, which is type 2 diabetes.
Individuals who have type 1 diabetes manage their blood sugar by injecting insulin. However, individuals who have type 2 diabetes must use other methods to manage their blood sugar because their cells aren't able to properly use insulin. And this means that their blood sugar levels are always elevated.
With type 2 diabetes, the harder the body tries to bring down blood sugar, the more insulin it releases. The cells become less and less sensitive to the point that they are completely resistant. And this can ultimately lead to weight gain due to fat storage and have a negative effect on the pancreas and other bodily functions.
Blood Glucose and the Keto Diet
If you want to ensure that you're managing your blood sugar properly, the best way to do it is to consume a low-carb diet--one that will help you to avoid sudden spikes. And this is one of the things that the keto diet is known for. Research shows that a keto diet can increase insulin sensitivity in those with type 2 diabetes and decrease your blood glucose levels.
Is Keto effective for weight loss?
As you can see, the keto diet can be ideal for those struggling with diabetes. However, there are other benefits to this particular eating plan. It can lead to weight loss and an improvement in your overall health.
It's worth mentioning that the keto diet isn't just an average low-carbohydrate diet. Sure, it may share similar principles as the Atkins or Paleo diets, but it's hardly the same.
The Atkins diet recommends that you restrict your carbs, eat more protein and limit your amount of fat intake. The Paleo diet recommends that you only restrict certain carbs such as pulses and grains. The keto diet, conversely, is extremely low in carbs and extremely high in fat.
The reason the keto diet has gained such a large following in the weight loss community is that it puts the body in a state of ketosis. When the body is in a state of ketosis its tricked into thinking that it's fasting. And after three or four days of "fasting" insulin secretion reduces and the body starts to use fat as energy.
Research shows that the ideal amount of daily carbs is 20 to 50 grams. And these carbs should primarily come from nonstarchy vegetables. Also, you should consume enough protein to preserve your body mass, but not so much that you're no longer in a state of ketosis.
Weight loss is made easier on the keto diet because it helps with appetite control. When the body starts to constantly burn fat, it's given unlimited access to weeks or even months worth of stored energy.
And this means that you don't feel hungry quite as often. You won't feel the need to snack all the time. In fact, most people only eat once or twice a day. This can really come in handy if you plan on intermittent fasting while on the keto diet.
Improvements In Overall Health
Research shows that the keto diet can help to improve a variety of health issues. For instance, you'll notice changes in your heart health. When you eat healthy fat it can help to reduce cholesterol.
This diet can help to reduce acne. One of the biggest causes of acne is the consumption of refined carbs and processed foods which can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar. When you decrease your carbs, it can have a huge impact on the appearance of your skin.
Studies have shown that a keto diet can even help to treat cancer. It's suggested that it can be a complementary treatment to radiation and chemotherapy due to the fact that it could put more oxidative stress on cancer cells than the cells that are normal.r text here...
Exercising on a keto diet
While the keto diet can be extremely beneficial to your health, many wonder how it will affect the way they exercise. You may also be interested in which exercises are best for this particular diet.
The Keto Flu
The truth is, when you're on a keto diet, there's a good chance you may not feel very well when you first start exercising. It's likely that you'll feel as if you're in a fog. The good news is that this is natural because your brain is adjusting to your not using carbs as an energy source.
In fact, this feeling has been referred to as "the keto flu" as it tends to mimic the symptoms of an actual flu. Though the flu typically passes within a few days, if you're doing exercises that could require quick reflexes such as biking on busy roads or hiking, it's best to skip these activities until the fog goes away.
Also, you should stick to the exercises that you do regularly. This way, you'll always know what works for you.
Undereating is a common problem in the keto community because your appetite is suppressed and you're not hungry. But it's important to keep in mind that if you don't get enough calories, you're going to feel bad during the workouts and won't be able to achieve the goals you've set.
Specifically, it's important that you consume enough fat. This will help you to compensate for all of the carbs that your body is missing. Eating foods such as avocados, grass-fed meats, and coconut oil will help to ensure that you're not tired and sluggish during your workouts.Enter your text here...
Skip the High-Intensity Workouts
When on the keto diet, it's best to do moderate workouts. Why is this? Well, high-intensity exercises cause the body to shift to using glycogen as energy.
The problem is, the only way to produce glycogen is by eating carbs. Since the keto diet causes you to heavily restrict your carbs, you won't be able to reach maximum performance. When you do moderate-intensity exercises, the body will be optimized for fat-burning.
Keto Workouts - Recommended Exercises
Now that you understand the importance of doing low-intensity exercises, let's discuss a few of the best. Aerobic exercises, or cardio, are ideal for the keto diet. This is any exercise that lasts longer than three minutes and burns fat.
Anaerobic exercise is any exercise that is done in short bursts. A good example of an anaerobic exercise would be weight training. However, it's important to keep in mind that carbs are the primary fuel when it comes to anaerobic exercises so it will require that you eat more than just fat.
Flexibility exercises can help to ensure that your muscles are well-stretched, your joints are supported, and that range of motion is improved. These things can help to prevent injuries during your workouts.
Another useful workout for those on the keto diet is stability exercise. This will ensure that your body is aligned, muscles are strengthened and that you have better control over your movements.
Listening to Your Body
While there are many exercises recommended for the keto diet, it's essential that you pay attention to what your body is telling you. This is especially important within those first few weeks. If you're always dizzy or exhausted, then a diet that drastically restricts your carbs may not be ideal for you.
Add a few carbs into your diet to find out if it makes you feel better. This way, you'll know if the keto diet will work for you.
How difficult is a Keto diet?
The keto diet can be a challenge for beginners. After all, this high-fat, low-carb eating plan can be a huge departure from the way that you're used to eating--especially if you eat the standard American diet. However, it's level of difficulty really depends on how prepared you are.
1. Knowing What Foods to Avoid
The keto diet suggests that you start with 20 to 30 grams of carbs per day. So if you want to succeed, you must be familiar with what foods have the most protein, carbs, and fat.
For example, pasta, ice cream, candy, cookies, and chips, aren't the only foods that contain carbs. Beans, fruit, and veggies can also be culprits. Meats and pure fats, such as oils and butter, are the only foods that don't contain carbohydrates. Finding keto-friendly snacks can also help.
2. Knowing that Fat Isn't the Enemy
One of the biggest challenges that alot keto dieters have to overcome is their fear of fat. We've been conditioned to consider fat as the enemy. So it may take some getting used to.
The key is to make substitutions that you consider to be healthy. When eating a burger and fries, substitute your bun for lettuce and your fries for veggies. Though it is more difficult, you can even follow a vegetarian keto diet.
3. Be Prepared to Cook
Here's the thing: the keto diet isn't conducive to processed foods. So this means that you should be prepared to sharpen your cooking skills. You'll be spending a significant amount of time researching recipes that are keto friendly.
4. Dealing With Cravings
One of the number one concerns for most people is carb cravings. Cravings can be difficult at the beginning of the diet. But the good news is they don't last forever and there are methods to getting rid of them.
For example, instead of lowering your carbs slowly, try getting rid of them all at once. When it comes to cutting carbs, a lot of people prefer to taper off slowly, but this can lead to a struggle. The sooner you're able to cut down to 20 to 30 grams per day, the sooner you'll be in a state of ketosis which means that your appetite will be suppressed.
If you're dealing with cravings, it's also important to eat until you're completely full. Within those first few days, your body is searching for satiety. Normally, it's the carbs that make you feel more full, but you're going to have to compensate by eating more keto-friendly food.
You should always be on the lookout for hidden carbs. Carbs are often in the products that we least expect and unfortunately, this could be taking you out of ketosis and causing cravings. This is another benefit of preparing your own food--you'll always know what's in it.
You may also consider eating pickles to cut your cravings. This may seem a little odd, but sour foods are considered to be a great way to cut carb cravings. And the benefit is that they're low in calories and carbs.
Above all else, when you're dealing with cravings you should be patient. The first couple of days may be rough, but eventually, your body will adapt to what's happening. It simply needs time to recover from the effects of your previous diet--the more sugar you ate before, the stronger your cravings are likely to be.
Pros of the Keto Diet
One of the biggest benefits of the keto diet is that once you understand the basics, it's pretty easy to follow. There are only so many foods that you can eat on this particular diet. Most of it boils down to oils, meat, and non-starchy vegetables. So you don't really have to guess what you can and can't get away with.
Cons of the Keto Diet
However, the biggest benefit can also be one of its biggest downfalls. Sure, the diet is relatively simply, but this simplicity limits your choices in terms of what you can eat.
This diet encourages you to avoid grains, most fruits, legumes, beans, starchy vegetables, and all sugars. There are also certain dairy products that you can't consume. And this often makes the diet difficult to maintain over a long period of time which can result in rebound weight gain.
One small, carb-laced snack could kick the body out of ketosis. And the body will inevitably start to burn glucose for energy. This can start the cycle all over again.
Is a keto diet safe for people with diabetes?
There are several studies that suggest that the keto diet can be an excellent way for diabetics to manage their blood sugar. In fact, some clinics have introduced ketogenic programs for people who have type 2 diabetes.
However, this isn't to say that the keto diet is a one-size-fits-all solution for diabetics. In the case of Type 1 diabetics, this diet may actually pose risks. In fact, some studies support other eating plans such as a Mediterranean diet. This diet encourages people to eat lean meats, fruits, fish, olive oil, vegetables, and whole grains.
The keto diet is an excellent way to get your blood sugar under control and possibly reverse the effects of diabetes. Specifically, it ensures that your body is tapping into your fat storage for energy instead of sugar. And this allows your body to function properly.
The benefits that come with this diet are immense. However, the key to figuring out if it's right for your body is to try it out and see how it responds. Ultimately, your body will guide you into the right decision.