What is a Low Carb Ketogenic Diet?

You Want To Know!
As a member of the LCDA, you should be proud knowing you are taking a proactive lead in healing the prediabetes or diabetes of yourself or a loved one or a patient. And, you have come to the right organization. By learning about The Eight Essentials, and how to bring positive changes to your diet, lifestyle, supplementation, you will learn information that may help you reverse prediabetes and can help you to reverse or control diabetes.

Essential #1: Low Carb Whole Foods Diet
The Low Carb Ketogenic Diet

I think it is apparent that the LCDA non-profit advocates eating low carb for prevention and treatment of diabetes!

A low carb diet can present itself in four main ways:

  1. The low carb omnivore diet–whereby people eat in a way that mimics how they normally ate, but remove grains and other high carb foods. Making “fake” grains via nut flours, coconut flour, cauliflower, oopsie bread are common and all proteins that are allowed on a low carb diet are eaten.
  2. The low carb vegetarian diet–on this diet people limit their protein intake to nuts, soybean, eggs and dairy products.
  3. The low glycemic, vegan diet–on this diet, people only eat soybean and nut products for protein.
  4. The low carb ketogenic diet–the lowest in carbohydrates, and the highest in fat, this diet is designed to get people’s body running on ketone bodies. It is also called a low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet.

Let’s talk about a ketogenic diet more.

Ketogenic diets were created historically in the 1920s to treat epileptic patients. It is still used for that condition today, especially in children for whom medications are not very effective. Ketogenic diets are also used for chronic migraineurs, and may help patients with brain cancers, dementia or Alzheimer’s, or other central brain diseases, such as Parkinsons.

How do you eat a ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet involves a severe restriction of carbohydrates, usually less than 20 grams a day, and substituting in a great deal of (healthy) fats. The diet macronutrient ratios are typically along these lines: Fat intake can be from 60-75% of calories, protein can be 20-35% of calories, depending on how a person chooses to employ the diet, and carbohydrates are 5% of calories. This shifts your body’s metabolism, so that it uses the fat to produce energy. Fat is broken down by the liver and is turned into ketone bodies. The entire body, including the brain, can use ketone bodies for efficient fuel. This allows insulin levels to fall very low, reducing resistance problems, as insulin is not needed for the energy to utilize fat, only for the body to utilize carbohydrates.
When a body is living and working off of ketones it is said to be in ketosis. Fasting is another method of entering into ketosis, but it is impossible to live life and be active while continually fasting! The Ketogenic diet allows for eating while being in the same state.

Ketosis is not the same as ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a healthy way to eat, and ketoacidosis is a complicated scenario where many factors are occurring in a T1DM or insulin dependent T2DM patient: High blood sugar, low insulin levels (which produce ketone bodies) and dehydration are the key problems. Do not confuse the two terms; they are really not related even though ketone bodies are a part of both of them.

There are three main ketone bodies that are produced: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxbutyrate, and acetone. A safe range of ketones in the blood is 0.5-3.0 mmol/l These can be tested via a ketone blood meter, but although a ketone blood meter is not expensive, the test strips are, up to $5 a test strip so this is cost prohibitive for most people. Two Ketone blood meters are NovoMax Plus and Precision Extra.

Another method of measuring ketones is through the urine, but that only measure acetoacetate, not the other ones and the blood is usually higher than the urine. Also, the urine gives a reading that is usually hours away from what is happening at the moment. Positive ketone are a purple color on the urine test strips. Ketostix and Uriscan are two brands.

Foods you can eat on a ketogenic diet:

  1. Proteins: Grass fed/finished/pasteurized organic meat and poultry (meat and organs); wild-caught fish and seafood; Organic eggs; full-fat dairy (cheese, cream); protein powders; nuts and seeds (generally avoiding cashews, chestnuts, pistachios); organic edamame
  2. Fats (organic, unrefined): lard, tallow, poultry fat, butter, coconut oils, olive, avocado and macadamia nut oils, red palm oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, flax oil.
  3. Vegetables: leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, asparagus, cucumber, summer squash, bamboo shoots, eggplant, bell peppers, onion, leek, garlic, mushrooms, pumpkin, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, rhubarb
  4. Fruit: Avocado, berries, coconut, olives
  5. Beverages: water, coffee, teas; dry red or white wine, straight liquor.
  6. Condiments: Mayonnaise, mustard, pesto, bone broth, pickles, fermented foods
  7. All spices and herbs, lemon or lime juice
  8. Sweeteners: pure stevia, xylitol, Swerve, (no carbs at all).
  9. Thickeners: arrowroot powder, xanthum gum, cocoa and carob powder,

Foods you must avoid on a ketogenic diet:
1. All grains, poor quality animal products, other fruits, sweetened alcohol drinks or beer, other dairy products,

Here is a good Keto Diet Food Pyramid with all credit due to this very helpful keto diet informational website:

A couple of typical days’ ketogenic diet on a might look like this:
Day 1. 2 eggs sauted in 1 TSBP butter, cooked with 1 oz onion, with 4 slices of cooked bacon covered with 2TBSP heavy cream.
Day 2. 3 oz cooked pork breakfast sausage, 1 hard boiled egg, 2 TBSP whipped cream cheese, tea or coffee with heavy cream
Day 1. 3 or 4 oz of chicken breast on 3 cups of mixed salad greens plus 1 celery stalk; add 2 TBSP olive oil and 2 TSBP ranch dressing.
Day 2. 4 oz baked fish with dill butter sauce, 1 cup of cauliflower sauted in butter, 1 cup of salad greens sprinkled with blue cheese and with 1-2TBSP of full fat dressing.
Day 1. 4-6 oz ribeye steak, 1 cup of raw mushrooms, topped with2 TBSP butter and 2 TBSP heavy cream, 1 cup broccoli.
Day 2. 6 oz salmon, 2 cups shredded cabbage sauted in butter, salad greens with full fat dressing, tea with heavy cream.

There are common themes to the meals: a lot of animal protein, a lot of fat, and some healthy vegetables.

Starting a ketogenic diet is asking your body to switch its energy making capacity to a whole new biochemical pathway. It can take weeks to even months in some to get adapted to the new diet, so have some patience. There may be some negative symptoms during that time, such as irritability, headaches, bad breath, poor concentration, and lack of energy.

Once adapted, though, weight loss can occur easily if required; there are numerous studies showing a low carb, high fat diet is very efficient at losing weight. Enough weight can be lost that T2DM can be reversed.

Once a person is adapted to the diet, physical energy and endurance can be noticeably enhanced. Of course, this is most pronounced if you are doing endurance activities, such as long hikes or running. The fat is burned steadily and does not run out, as carbohydrates can, so performance can be maximized. In the ketogenic world, though, many discuss the need for electrolytes to boost your capacity to exercise on this strict low carb diet. Adding LoSalt Original (no iodine) to water is a great way to get electrolytes into your body and may really help your performance. Ask your own medical practitioner what to take but it is common to add 1 full teaspoon to two liters of water, such as in a Camelpak. You may need more or less and your medical practitioner can help guide that dosing.

Problems with a ketogenic diet can arise. Adverse reactions are noted in the scientific literature. First, it is a hard diet to commit to for many people, and many will not be able to follow it long-term. In studies people have developed gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation, reflux disease, nausea and vomiting), increased inflammation, hair loss, kidney stones, muscle cramps and weakness, problems with mood and concentration, nutrient deficiency, negative changes in the intestinal microbiome, bone loss and fracture, acute pancreatitis, heart arrhythmias, menstrual changes and amenorrhea, and, unfortunately, death. Note bene: Death occurred in children on the ketogenic diet usually being treated for epilepsy. This may or may not reflect concerns in T1DM children and the ketogenic diet. Studies showing death occurred can be found in this article here: https://www.thepaleomom.com/adverse-reactions-to-ketogenic-diets-caution-advised/

However, there are many people today doing the ketogenic diet, and doing it well and safely.

The LCDA recommends all people on a low carb diet, no matter the type, add in fiber powder, to feed the bacteria making up the intestinal microbiome. These bacteria ferment fiber into short chain fatty acids, which are the food for the colon cells. They are also anti-inflammatory, and may enhance glucose regulation in diabetes, including promoting weight loss.

In summary, the LCDA advocates eating a low carb diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes. However, it does not advocate one particular low carb diet over another. Your integrative medical practitioner should clearly present to you what each of the four main low carb diet entails, and then, help you choose the best and safest diet that will fit your life, your socializing, and your overall medical needs.


One Comments

  • Bablofil 10 / 06 / 2017

    Thanks, great article.

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