Can Ketogenic Diets Cure Diabetes?

Research is saying a big “Hell Yeah” to eating steak, coconut oil, bacon and avocados.  Those are mainstays for many people who follow a ketogenic (high fat, low-to-moderate protein and almost no carb) diet.   A body of evidence is showing that this diet may be the holy grail for reversing pre, and type 2 diabetes.  The ketogenic diet, incidentally, was originally developed to treat epilepsy.

Low Carb Diet, Jeff Volek PhD, RD, Stephen Phinney, MD, PhD


The Science Behind the Ketogenic Diet and Why I Still Didn’t Try It

In the early to mid-90’s I was intrigued by the notorious Atkin’s Diet book, which promoted the ketogenic diet for weight loss.  When the body consumes very little carbohydrate, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and and ketone bodies.  The ketone bodies pass into the brain to fuel it and they replace glucose as the body’s energy source.  The marketing slogan was and is, “eat fat to burn fat.”  I did not try it .  I was hesitant to get on board with such a radical concept even though I heard first-hand reports that people were losing weight.  Significant weight loss almost always has a positive effect on biomarkers like blood sugar and cholesterol.  Still, I personally couldn’t wrap my head (or mouth) around eating all that fat – about 70% of you daily calories.  I think I had a fat-phobia bought on by the false, mind-control marketing by the sugar and packaged food companies convincing us fat was the enemy.  We know now, it’s not.  The real enemy, if we have to demonize a food, is added sugar and processed, refined foods.  It really makes me angry 😡😡 😡that food companies, like drug companies, care more about their shareholders than our health!

My Obsession and Failures (so far) With Ketosis

I started in this industry during what I call the “Ornish / Atkins Wars.”  Basically, the doctor who said he cured his patients of heart disease with a plant based diet vs. the doc who said eating almost an all fat diet was the cure.  The latter died of a heart attack, which was later revealed to be the result of a fall.  So I back then thought, “bah”, like so many of us fat-eating-phobes did, when we heard about the Atkins Diet.  As it turns out, the new findings, and the re-evaluations of the old evidence shows that the High Fat, Low Carb diets really may be the best for many people.  (NOTE:  don’t confuse, high fat with high protein – no one really needs to be on a high protein diet — more on that in a future post!)  There is a growing body of research on High Fat, Low Carb diets (the keto diet falls under that umbrella).

I’ve become obsessed with the Ketogenic (and High Fat Low Carb diet) over the past few years because:

  1. I could never do it for more than a couple of days. You really need approximately 3 days to get into ketosis and I failed repeatedly at getting fully into it and maintaining it.  Maybe I’ll find there’s a genetic reason.  But, the discomfort I feel trying to  get thru the transition into ketosis is so hard for me.  It’s my Everest!  (Stay tuned, I’m trying a Fasting Mimicking Diet for longevity in September.  A full review is forthcoming!)
  2. I’m not a meat eater. Fish, yes,  Some eggs from pasture raised, organic chickens, and cheese (particularly goat) are ok by me.  But I have a severe aversion to U.S. agricultural practices particularly in the meat and dairy industries (so most cheese actually makes me second think eating it).  It comes down to  factory farming reasons for me, which literally makes me teary-eyed, extremely angry.   I even have occasional nightmares.  I gave up red meat in my diet decades ago for mainly Mediterranean style dietary habits and lots of fish,
  3. I have a family history of diabetes.  I tried to save my mother from dying of from all the preventable diseases she inflicted upon herself, including diabetes.  But I couldn’t get her to undo all the damage she had done to her body from lousy lifestyle habits.  If I had believed Dr. Atkins back in the early 90’s when I first heard of his book, I would have had her try it.  She loved bacon and steak!  (cringe)

While I’m still hoping to someday experience the”euphoria” and mental focus people say they get from being in ketosis for myself, I really think people with certain health conditions should look into it.   Researchers and doctors who are testing High Fat, Low Carb diets are having great success.  If you or someone you know is pre-diabetic or has Type 2 diabetes, share this podcast with them.  Jeff Volek is pretty confident he can eradicate type 2 diabetes.

Episode 43: Jeff Volek explains the power of ketogenic diets to reverse type 2 diabetes

Jill Brown
Jill Brown
Hi, I'm JillI am a Los Angeles based Fitness + Nutrition Coach. With 20+ years of experience in teaching, training and continuing my education, I have transformed thousands of lives through fitness and healthy lifestyle changes.