Keto diet and type 2 diabetes: What you need to know

Credit: Eduardo Roda Lopes / Unsplash

The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, has gained significant popularity in recent years as a potential strategy for weight loss and improved metabolic health.

One area where the keto diet has drawn attention is its potential impact on individuals with type 2 diabetes.

This article aims to explore the research evidence surrounding the relationship between the keto diet and type 2 diabetes, analyzing its potential benefits and drawbacks.

Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. It is often associated with obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor dietary choices.

The primary goal in managing type 2 diabetes is to control blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease and kidney damage.

The Ketogenic Diet Explained

The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that aims to shift the body’s metabolism into a state of ketosis. In this state, the body primarily uses fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

The diet typically consists of high-fat foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, healthy oils, and non-starchy vegetables, while significantly limiting carbohydrate intake.

Research Evidence

Blood Sugar Control

Several studies have demonstrated that the keto diet can lead to significant improvements in blood sugar control among individuals with type 2 diabetes.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that participants following a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet experienced a greater reduction in HbA1c levels (a marker of long-term blood sugar control) compared to those on a low-calorie, low-fat diet.

Another study published in Nutrition & Metabolism reported similar findings, showing that the keto diet resulted in better glycemic control and reduced medication use in participants with type 2 diabetes.

Weight Loss and Insulin Sensitivity

The keto diet has been shown to promote weight loss, which is often a crucial component in managing type 2 diabetes.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that individuals following a low-carbohydrate diet experienced greater weight loss compared to those on a low-fat diet.

Weight loss can lead to improved insulin sensitivity and better glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes.

Lipid Profile

Some concerns have been raised about the potential impact of the keto diet on lipid profiles, specifically an increase in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels.

However, recent research suggests that these concerns may be overstated.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that the keto diet resulted in significant improvements in various lipid markers, including a reduction in triglycerides and an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), which is considered “good” cholesterol.

Sustainability and Compliance

One of the challenges associated with the keto diet is its long-term sustainability and compliance.

Adhering to a highly restrictive diet that severely limits carbohydrate intake can be challenging for some individuals.

Long-term studies examining the effects of the keto diet on type 2 diabetes management are limited, making it difficult to assess its true efficacy and safety in the context of sustained adherence.


The research evidence surrounding the impact of the keto diet on type 2 diabetes is promising, demonstrating its potential benefits in blood sugar control, weight loss, and lipid profile improvement.

However, it is crucial to consider individual preferences, lifestyle factors, and potential risks associated with long-term adherence to the keto diet.

It is recommended that individuals with type 2 diabetes consult with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians before making any significant dietary changes to ensure personalized recommendations and adequate monitoring of health parameters.

Copyright © 2023 Scientific Diet. All rights reserved.