The ketogenic diet - pros and cons

food and food pyramid for ketogenic diet

Ask doctors and nutritionists about their opinions on the ketogenic diet and you'll hear a wide range of opinions. Some answers will be based on personal experience, others on scientific evidence.

Ask diabetics the same questions, and again, opinions will differ.

The reason for this controversy is that the ketogenic diet works for some people and not for others. Also, it has many restrictions that can lead to additional problems. Such a problem can be, for example, an increase in cholesterol in violation of the diet.

What is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is a specific diet based on restricting carbohydrates to 50 g per day and increasing fat content. Their idea is to create a metabolic state of ketosis so that fat can be used for energy instead of carbohydrates.

This diet has been used since the 1920s in the treatment of conditions such as epilepsy. Nowadays, it is used for weight loss, diabetes and dementia, cancer and acne. In addition, athletes are known to use it to improve the quality of exercise performance and for fat loss.

Doctors know that the ketogenic diet can help you lose weight, and if it's medically correct, it can really help.

However, when people start to limit their vegetable intake or engage in other eating irregularities, the diet can also be harmful.

There are several options for the ketogenic diet. Some of them recommend consuming 30 grams or less of carbs a day and more lean in fatty and protein foods.

The standard ketogenic diet is a little different. She recommends consuming 25-50 grams of carbohydrates a day. People who adhere to it get 60-70% of calories from fat, 20-30% from protein and 5-10% from carbohydrates. Those who eat 1800 calories a day consume 140 g of fat, 90 g of protein and 45 g of carbohydrates a day.

As you understand, it is almost impossible to discover the ketogenic diet on your own. For the diet to be effective and safe, it must be started and completed, and usually followed, under the supervision of a specialist.

ketosis vs. ketoacidosis

Before embarking on a ketogenic diet, people with diabetes need to understand the difference between ketoacidosis and ketosis.

Ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when blood sugar rises to dangerous levels. In ketocytosis, the body starts breaking down fats for energy, resulting in the formation of ketones.

When too many ketones build up in the blood, the blood becomes overoxidized. This condition occurs in people with type 1 diabetes because their body does not produce insulin.

Unlike ketoacidosis, ketosis means your body uses fat for fuel. This can cause ketones to reach their maximum level without changing the acidity of the blood.

It is believed that during ketosis, the body is able to receive energy from ketones in the same way as glucose.

So what does all this mean for diabetics? If everything is done correctly and under the supervision of an expert, the diet will be safe and healthy. It is true that if a person has kidney or heart disease, it may not be worth starting. In any case, you should consult a doctor.


The ketogenic diet has been the subject of many studies that have proven its long-term efficacy and safety. Very low carb and ketogenic diets with less than 50g of carbs per day have been shown to have some benefits, but should not be followed for longer than 3-4 months as the diets can harm the body for longer periods.

Most research has focused specifically on short-term diets. So once a study was conducted on a ketogenic diet. The experiment involved 262 people. The study lasted 10 weeks. Subjects were given three, five or ten servings of vegetables, a moderate amount of protein, and the maximum amount of fat could be consumed. At the end of the study, patients were able to stop taking at least one diabetic medication, had a decrease in glycated hemoglobin and a 20% decrease in triglycerides. During the study, project participants were constantly consulted by a nutritionist. The experiment took place under the supervision of therapists. Patients measured their blood sugar levels daily. This was necessary to adjust drug treatment if necessary. Participants shared their experiences in managing diabetes and their diet with each other.

Studies have shown that eating less than 50 grams of carbs a day can actually help you lose weight and lower diastolic blood pressure. In addition, those who followed the ketogenic diet had increased levels of good cholesterol and decreased levels of bad.

A low-carb ketogenic diet has also been shown to improve glycated hemoglobin and reduce triglycerides, which can cause heart disease. It is true that the total cholesterol level remains the same.

If you are considering starting a ketogenic diet, take your time. If you're used to eating 200 grams or more of carbs a day, getting to 40 grams or less without prep will be next to impossible. Fat instead of glucose will not be used by the body for a long time, so you will experience a breakdown and a deterioration of well-being. For diabetics, these experiments are often dangerous, especially if they take medication prescribed by a doctor.

The safest way to start a diet is to first consult your doctor or nutritionist to ensure the diet is right for you.

Nutritionists and doctors say that health and longevity depend on the type of fat you eat. Since research shows that low-carb or ketogenic diets increase bad cholesterol levels, it's important to limit your intake of saturated fats — processed meats, cheese, butter, and cream. It is better to eat unsaturated fats - vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados. Also, try to eat as many vegetables as possible. Some experts advise following a vegetarian ketogenic diet, but this is not mandatory.

Nutritionists sometimes provide patients with tables indicating the vitamin and mineral content of foods. For example, if you don't eat vegetables and foods rich in calcium, health problems won't keep you waiting.


A ketogenic diet can cause hypoglycemia, a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. This condition can also occur if patients violate their medication regimen.

There is another difficulty. As a person has to start eating differently from the rest, he starts to avoid society, therefore he feels socially isolated. It is important to understand dietary restrictions and be prepared for them.

If you follow a ketogenic diet with a lot of protein, it can negatively affect your kidneys. For those who have kidney disease, this diet is not suitable.

If the diet includes a high intake of saturated fats - butter, cream, processed meats, high-fat cheeses - and does not contain enough plant foods, an increase in blood levels of bad cholesterol can occur. This can lead to constipation and cause heart disease.

Lean turkey, chicken, fish and healthy fats in the form of vegetable oils, nuts and seeds are recommended during a ketogenic diet. Also, you need to eat at least three to five servings of non-starchy vegetables every day to ensure you get the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals.

After achieving the desired result - losing weight or improving well-being - the diet is usually stopped. It will be possible to return to it now in a few months.