Keto Diet for Healthy Blood Sugar
Keto, rhymes with Frito. But you’ll probably want to avoid those corny nuggets if you want balanced blood sugar.
Let’s face it, we love carbs. They taste good, fill us up, and for most people, they’re our comfort foods.
Pizza, mac and cheese, chocolate chip cookies—they’re often what we crave. But a carb heavy diet can really do a number on your blood sugar levels.
The thing is, many blood sugar imbalances in the body are generally a result of high glucose (sugar) in the blood and a lack of insulin to balance it out. See, insulin is the hormone that helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. What that means is all those delicious chips, pastas, cookies and breads that make us feel so full and satisfied, make it really, really hard to keep your blood sugar balanced.
Enter the Keto diet.
In recent years, the Keto (short for ketogenic) diet has become a popular way for folks to balance their blood glucose levels due to its focus on healthy fats and proteins over carbs. Let’s look at how the Keto diet works, and whether it’s a good fit for your blood sugar balancing goals.
What exactly is the Keto diet, anyway?
The Keto diet is a meal plan that is low in carbs and high in fats. Basically, you reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat and focus on eating more protein and fat. So basically, a meat and potatoes diet—without the potatoes.
“So, like, meat with a side of meat?” you may ask. Um, not exactly. You’ll need to add some veggies in there, too. But, meat is definitely a big part of the Keto diet—sorry vegetarians!
Sounds too good to be true? Well, there’s actually some science behind it.
While the Keto diet has taken social media by storm, there is scientific evidence that suggests it can change the way the body breaks down food resulting in substantial weight loss and lower blood sugar.
By reducing your carb intake to less than 50g of carbs per day (basically three slices of bread, three potatoes, a cup of rice or a cup of pasta), the body is forced to break down protein and fat for its energy. This process is known as ketosis, and it begins just a few days into the diet.
Can the Keto diet help balance blood sugar?
If the idea that eating a high-fat diet could help with weight loss and lower blood sugar sounds confusing, you’re not alone. Many people find this idea perplexing.
But here’s the deal, when the body is forced to burn fat instead of carbs, creating a fuel source known as ketones, weight loss and lowered blood sugar is almost inevitable. This makes the diet a good option for people hoping to balance their blood sugar.
The ketogenic diet can be a great option for folks with high insulin and high blood sugar levels. These folks often see an improvement in blood sugar levels because they have restricted their carbohydrate intake (which converts straight to sugar in the body) and forced their bodies to burn excess fat.
Here are just a few of the health benefits of the Keto diet:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Lower demand for insulin
- Lower triglyceride levels
- Higher HDL cholesterol levels
- Improved mental performance
How do I follow the Keto diet safely?
Following the Keto diet plan involves a lot of careful planning and research. A high-fat diet could easily involve lots of extremely unhealthy fatty foods. To get the most out of the diet while properly nourishing yourself, you’ll need to include a range of healthy fats. No, not potato chips and macaroni. We’re talking monounsaturated fats. Foods like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. You’ll want to do your best to avoid trans fats like baked goods, fried foods, and microwave popcorn as much as possible, ‘cause it's these bad boys that really jack up your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.
Are there any potential risks of the Keto diet?
Yes. As much as it might sound heavenly to tuck into steak three meals a day, it’s also important to understand the risks of eating Keto. Because, while there is plenty of evidence that suggests there are benefits to using the Ketogenic diet to balance your blood sugar levels, in some cases, it may not be a wisest choice. And in all cases, when you’re thinking of making a major diet change we recommend you begin by seeking the advice of a medical professional.
Here then are a few of the potential risks of eating a Keto diet:
Hypoglycemia is the technical term for low blood sugar. While most folks with high blood sugar are more concerned about spikes in their blood sugar, low blood sugar is also a risk. If you’re already taking medication to regulate your blood sugar levels, you may be placing yourself at risk by starting the Keto diet without first consulting with your doctor.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease is a risk of the Keto diet when someone eats too many saturated fats. If you need help making healthy choices about what to eat while on the Keto diet, seek medical advice.
- Lack of Nutrients
No amount of meat is going to get you the benefits of eating green leafy vegetables. If you aren’t careful about your nutritional intake, you may find you are lacking a range of crucial nutrients that are found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. It’s why we recommend consulting with your medical professional first, as you may need to supplement your diet with added vitamins and minerals.
- Digestive Issues
The Keto diet can put you at risk for a range of digestive issues. Because the Keto diet lacks fiber it can tend to back you up, so to speak (read: constipation). And because it can lead to rapid weight loss, there’s a risk of forming gallstones. So make sure you’re monitoring your digestion closely.
Takeaway on Keto
The bottom line is, there are benefits to the Keto diet and some risks. But if you enjoy eating meat and you’re good about eating your veggies, then a Keto diet might just be the thing to help you achieve balanced blood sugar.