What’s better for your health - a lower fat or a higher fat diet? …. We discussed this topic in a previous blog post, but what does that mean for people with diabetes? 

To better understand fat consumption, let’s take a look at one of the trendiest diets right now: The Infamous Ketogenic (Keto) Diet!

Taking A Closer Look on Keto

A Keto Diet consists of high fat content with low carbohydrates, yet its ever-increasing popularity still baffles a lot of people. The most common reason for doing Keto is to lose weight or to help treat certain diseases. Yet, it still leaves diabetics out of the equation. Plus, experts still question the actual benefits and risks of this popular trend.

We’ve compiled a list of the Good and the Bad of going on a Keto Diet as a diabetic.


A Keto Diet is suggested be beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes (1).

  • A particular study by medical researchers from Duke University adjusted the food intake of obese and diabetic individuals by putting them on a low-carb diet over 24 weeks. Out of the 60% who completed the study, all of them experienced a lower glycemic index, improvement in HDL cholesterol level (the good cholesterol), as well as weight loss (1). What’s more, 95% of those participants were able to reduce their diabetic medication where some were able to eliminate it completely (1).

  • Low-carb diets are generally beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes since the diet doesn’t provide carbs that raise blood sugar. With the Keto Diet, it keeps people from feeding off of sugar, forcing the body to use fat as an energy source instead. As a natural result, the blood sugar level will go down, as will insulin - the hormone that allows your body to use sugar as an energy source. 


A Keto Diet can be risky for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (2,4,5). 

  • Diabetics are at high risk of ketoacidosis (the state where the body produces an excess amount of ketones due to insufficient insulin) (3). While ketosis (a mildly acidic state of our blood as a consequence of being on a Keto Diet) is generally safe for healthy individuals, chronic ketosis puts diabetics at high risks of ketoacidosis (5,6). Some adverse effects of ketoacidosis are nausea, vomiting, difficulty in breath, confusion, lack of concentration, and loss of consciousness. And in severe ketoacidosis cases, it may be fatal.

  • A Keto Diet can put Type 1 diabetics at a high risk of hypocalcemia (the lack of calcium in blood plasma) and dyslipidemia (abnormally high level of blood lipids) (2). In severe cases, these diseases can be fatal. Some symptoms of hypocalcemia include uncontrollable muscle twitches, convulsions, or even respiratory paralysis which may lead to death. High levels of dyslipidemia increases the chance of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, and strokes in individuals. 

Good vs. Bad


In some studies, there may be some benefits correlated with the Keto Diet, but if we take the adverse effects into account, the diet may potentially do more harm than good.

The world is putting on more fat, yet the malnutrition problem doesn’t seem to cease!

Whenever we’re reducing the variety of our foods, it’s much easier to be deficient in some micronutrients while overconsuming others. As a consequence, most of us end up consuming enough calories but not enough micronutrients, such as essential vitamins and minerals. The lack of nutrients has been theorized as one of the possible contributors to many of our chronic diseases, which is the leading cause of death (7,8). 

The Keto Diet is still controversial and more research is being done to clear up the fog about the results and to prevent any complications, especially if you have diabetes. Remember, there isn’t one diet out there that works for everyone!

Everyone is different!

If you are considering adopting to a Ketogenic Diet, always consult your doctor or a Registered Dietitian before going on a Keto diet. For more information regarding diabetic nutrition contact BC Dietitians or visit Healthlink,Dietitians of Canada or Diabetes Canada !

Written By: Yini Tsai

Proofread by Evelyn S. Wong

Edited By Renée Y. Chan, MS, RD

About the author:

Yini is a student studying Food & Nutrition at The University of British Columbia. She is an avid researcher of food trends and nutrition news. She is also photography enthusiast.

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