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Being a diabetic who wants to go on a ketogenic diet and fast intermittently can seem tricky.
You’ll find conflicting, confusing, and downright inaccurate information when you search online.
You'll probably be told a low-carb diet will harm you; that being in ketosis is dangerous; or that the stunning weight loss from keto isn't sustainable for the long-term.
Why is that?
Well, one reason is that mainstream medical providers - with all good intent - often adhere to outdated advice for living with diabetes. Advice such as to eat more whole-grain carbohydrates, eat frequently to keep your blood sugar up, and the like. Though research is showing the flaws in this thinking, it’s tough to shrug off decades of information that’s been put out by influential organizations.
The good news?
In this post, you’ll learn why the low-carb ketogenic diet combined with intermittent fasting is ideal for people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and who take the blood-sugar-control drug metformin and insulin at the same time.
In this article:
- The Differences Between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
- Why You Need The Least Amount Of Insulin Possible
- The Fastest Way To Lower Your Insulin Levels
- Why A Ketogenic Diet And Intermittent Fasting Are Good For Diabetics
- Going Keto When You’re A Diabetic Isn’t A Problem
The Differences Between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
Though both conditions are called diabetes, each one has a different cause and functions differently in the body.
- Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
- Insulin is a hormone that your body needs to allow sugar to enter your cells to produce energy.
- Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults. Some adults are misdiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, when they actually have Type 1.
- Despite active long-term research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. Treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet, and lifestyle to prevent complications, although, curiously, conventional advice has been to eat high-carb instead of a low-carb diet.
- Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the insulin receptors in your cells do not receive the signal that sufficient insulin is available for their energy needs and to keep your blood sugar under control.
- To compensate, the pancreas produces even more insulin to amp up the signal in the hope your cells will receive it. But your cells have become resistant to insulin and are incapable of receiving even the heightened signal.
- If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn't able to keep up and can't make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common type. It’s typically treated with diet, lifestyle changes, and drugs such as metformin, which works by lowering glucose production in the liver and improving your body's sensitivity to insulin so that your body uses insulin more effectively. You may also require insulin.
- Unfortunately, metformin has unpleasant potential side effects such as headaches, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
Though it may seem reassuring that diabetes can be treated with insulin and drugs, it’s actually problematic in the long run. Let’s take a look at why this is.
Why You Need The Least Amount Of Insulin Possible
With both types of diabetes, you’ll have high blood sugar and high insulin at the same time, either of which could wreak havoc on your health.
High blood sugar can damage your kidneys, arteries, brain and the retinas of your eyes. However, chronically high levels of insulin can cause more damage than high blood sugar; it can effectively destroy these organs.
This is why your goal is to take or trigger from your diet the least amount of insulin possible.
If you’re a Type 1 diabetic, your insulin-producing cells may be too far gone to recover their functionality. But we still want you to take the least amount of insulin possible, to avoid its destructive effects.
And if you have Type 2 diabetes, you want to do whatever you can to reverse your insulin resistance and keep your insulin levels low.
Let’s take a look at how you can do this.
The Fastest Way To Lower Your Insulin Levels
The fastest way to get your insulin level down is to avoid the customary trigger of insulin: carbohydrates.
Refined carbs such as cookies, cake, and sugary treats are the worst offenders. There are two main types:
- refined and processed sugars, such as sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup, and agave syrup; and,
- refined grains that have had the fibrous and nutritious parts removed, such as white flour.
Refined carbs have been stripped of almost all fiber, vitamins, and minerals. For this reason, they are often called empty calories. You digest them quickly, and they lead to rapid spikes in both your blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.
You probably already knew this about refined carbs, but did you know the so-called healthy carbs like whole-grain bread and pasta also spike your insulin? They do, even more than table sugar, and nearly as much as white bread with its refined carbohydrates. Exactly what you don’t want!
The grains also contain gluten, which are proteins that can cause health issues with people, and phytic acid. Phytic acid prevents the absorption of nutrients into your body. Remember these facts the next time someone tells you to start consuming whole grains or the next time you wonder if whole grains are really healthier than refined grains.
Now You Know Why A Ketogenic Diet And Intermittent Fasting Are Good For Diabetics
Although the American Diabetes Association doesn’t recommend what I’m about to recommend, I’m a committed advocate of the power of diet combined with reducing the frequency of eating. In other words, the low-carb keto diet and intermittent fasting.
I’ve worked with many people who have had success reversing Type 2 diabetes along with achieving stunning weight loss when they adopted the keto diet and combined it with intermittent fasting.
Reducing your carbohydrates on the ketogenic diet, and eating less often, will allow you to take the least amount of insulin, or potentially go off it altogether, thus bringing down your overall insulin levels over time. The ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting can also improve your insulin resistance, taking the stress off your liver and cells.
As you can see, the answer is yes; you absolutely can do the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting even if you’re a diabetic. I encourage you to work with your doctor to see about getting you off of or sharply reducing your medications and insulin.
Going Keto When You’re A Diabetic Isn’t A Problem
Not anymore, anyway.
Despite the warnings and conflicting information you’ve received, you now know how to experience the benefits of the ketogenic diet combined with intermittent fasting.
You don’t need to deprive yourself of the health improvements and weight loss that awaits you. Being in ketosis won't harm you. Eating the low-carb keto diet can improve your health, not harm it. Fasting - as long as you're under a doctor's supervision if you're taking meds - is an effective way to reduce your insulin.
And, now you know how to talk with your medical provider about changing your diet, lowering your carbohydrates, and fasting in a safe way.
Do that and you’re golden.
You’ll appreciate feeling so much better, and with time your body will thank you for getting its insulin levels down to normal so it can function as well as possible.