Can Diabetics Go On The Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet has proven to be, without a doubt, one of the most effective diets for pretty much-guaranteeing weight loss. For this reason, it has remained popular and stood the test of time. With this being said, many people with diabetes have wondered, is it safe for them to pursue this dietary regimen? 

A person with diabetes can do keto. Studies have shown that type 1 and type 2 diabetics can implement a ketogenic diet and that there are also potential benefits related. However, as complications may arise, it is important to work closely with your doctor when beginning the keto diet.

In this article, we will be discussing the principles of the Keto diet, how it works, and the pros and cons affiliated with it. We will also discuss the difference between Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes as they pertain to the keto diet and health considerations, which must be emphasized to minimize the risks. 

How Keto Works

The ketogenic diet was first developed in 1923 by Dr. Russell Wilder. The original purpose of the diet was to help people with epilepsy prevent seizures, but in the contemporary world of health and fitness, the keto diet has primarily been used as a means of stimulating rapid weight loss. 

The keto diet utilizes a very high fat and very low carbohydrate intake to induce a state known as ketosis. Typically when we ingest carbohydrates, our bodies process them and convert them into glucose. Glucose is then supplied to your body, acting as a source of energy for brain function, as well as physical activity.

When we eliminate or drastically reduce carbohydrates from our diet and increase our fat intake, the liver begins producing ketones. Ketones can then replace carbohydrates as an alternative source of fuel. 

Simply put, we require our body to seek fuel from an entirely different source, one which reduces hunger and results in rapid weight loss. For most people, a state of ketosis will be attained within 3 to 4 days of beginning a keto diet regimen. Trial and error will play a role in reworking your routine to accommodate a keto diet. 

Finding foods, recipes, and strategies that work for you will be very important in the beginning phase of the keto diet. The important thing is to remain patient, focus on your goal, and don’t give up. Ease into the diet gently to make the transition as seamless as possible. You can educate yourself by reading and watching YouTube videos and trust in the process.

Many athletes have utilized the keto diet to great success, particularly in endurance sports, such as distance running and cycling, where keeping a low body fat percentage is highly necessary for gaining a competitive edge.

Check out the video below for a more in-depth explanation of how keto works:

Typical Dietary Practices

As long as you are balancing your macros (macros, which stands for macronutrients, in this case, refers to the monitoring of fat, protein, and carbohydrates intake, and how they are balanced in one’s diet,) in accordance with the principles of the keto diet, the desired result will be attained. 

However, some will find that staying within the confines of strictly listed food items helps them structure their meals and build good keto habits without becoming overly complicated.

Ketogenic will commonly eat the following:

  • Meat
  • Green vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Non-green vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

While avoiding:

  • Pasta
  • Potatoes 
  • Bread 
  • Baked goods (Donuts, cupcakes, muffins, etc.)
  • Rice
  • Starch
  • Sugar

Pros of a Keto Diet

The main pro of a ketogenic diet lies in its incredible ability to reduce body fat without following a regular exercise program. The payoff from the keto diet is significant, it is fast, and it has a minimal likelihood of failing if properly implemented. 

As briefly mentioned above, the keto diet can also be a life-saving miracle diet for individuals who suffer from epileptic seizures. Studies conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario showed that based on a compilation of 14 studies of epileptic children below the age of 18, approximately 15.6% of subjects were able to completely eliminate seizures after administration of a Keto diet, and 33% reported a reduction greater than or equal to 50%.

To learn more about the benefits of a keto diet, click here to read my article on the topic.

Cons of a Keto Diet

The cons of the keto diet include but are not limited to:

  • Low energy levels (primarily in the early stage of transition)
  • Neurotic obsession with food
  • Potential for advanced regression if unsuccessful
  • Depression 
  • Deprivation of enjoyable foods
  • Social lacking due to inability to eat like others

I wrote an article covering the 12 most common side effects of keto that includes a ton of great information about what to do if you experience any of them.

Similar Diets

Diets similar in principle to the ketogenic diet exist and have also been proven effective. In some instances, these other low-carb diets may prove to be a more viable alternative for some. Below I will go over a few low-carb diets and compare them with keto:

The Atkins Diet

The Atkins is similar to the ketogenic diet in that you are still inducing ketosis to aid weight loss, the main difference being that the Atkins diet is more lenient in the number of carbs you are allowed to consume than is the keto diet. 

Over time, the Atkins diet progressively reintroduces carbohydrates back into your diet in phases. This is done to increase sustainability over the long term and prevent regression back into poor and unhealthy eating habits.

 Conversely, the keto diet maintains you indefinitely at a low carb intake. For some, this may not be a problem, but for others, the mental stress of this low carb permanence may be too overwhelming. Ultimately, this will be determined by the individual’s level of discipline and self-control.

The Paleolithic Low-Carb Diet

The Paleolithic Diet refers to the paleolithic era of human history, in which it is assumed that humans ate very simple, basic foods in accordance with the natural environment. 

The premise is straightforward: the dieter is to eat as close to natural whole foods as possible. This means avoiding processed foods and only eating real foods such as meat, vegetables, and fruit. However, this particular adaptation of the paleo diet requires that carbs be reduced as low as possible, and fat intake is elevated. 

The problem with this diet is in the infeasibility of finding meal options that meet the criteria of paleo. Many people may find that they do not have the available time to devote that much effort to meal planning for a low carb paleo diet. If you are able to follow this diet, however, the benefits from doing so will be extraordinary.

Lipid Profile

Without going too deeply into the scientific elements, I feel it necessary to define the lipid profile as it will be a recurring point of reference in the next two sections of this article. 

The lipid profile is a compilation of blood tests taken from a patient to identify specific medical ailments. It is a very comprehensive cholesterol test that provides the examiner with clear insight into how your body regulates blood quality. 

A Lipid profile analysis is the most accurate way to predict the likelihood of an individual developing type-2 diabetes, even years in advance. It gives a direct indication of the progressive worsening or betterment of an individual’s diabetic severity. 

Type 1 Diabetes

How It Works

Type 1 diabetes, also sometimes known as juvenile diabetes, is a form of diabetes that develops during the early childhood years. The pancreas of people living with type 1 diabetes is unable to produce adequate insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows the body to utilize glucose — derived from digesting carbohydrates — as a fuel source. 

Due to this inability to produce insulin, type 1 diabetics will have to supplement insulin manually and monitor their blood sugar levels daily in order to regulate their diet and insulin intake. 

Currently, no known cure exists, and type 1 diabetes is impossible to reverse. However, studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who follow a ketogenic diet may still experience positive results.


Thorough research published by the Diabetes Research Institute concluded that while a keto diet is not capable of delaying or preventing the development of type 1 diabetes, it does allow for more metabolic control, which in estimation, would aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels and make insulin regulation easier and more manageable.

Risk Analysis

In the same study cited above, it was stressed that caution should be taken by type 1 diabetics when following a keto diet for the following three reasons:

  • The impacts it may have on growth and development are not entirely understood.
  • The impacts it may have on growth and development are not entirely understood.
  • The impacts it may have on growth and development are not entirely understood.

In regards to the effect of a keto diet during puberty and physical development, the research is still widely debated.

For these reasons, it is necessary to work closely with your doctor when following the keto diet.

Type 2 Diabetes

How It Works

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is not hereditarily or environmentally caused. Instead, it typically develops due to lifestyle choices such as morbid obesity, poor diet, and lack of physical activity. Moreover, where type 1 diabetes results from an inability to produce insulin in the pancreas, type 2 diabetes is characterized by a resistance to insulin, which causes the cells in the body to be unresponsive to the insulin produced by the pancreas. 

The good news is that type 2 diabetes is much more reversible (although never entirely) than type 1 diabetes. A proper diet, a regular exercise routine, and a transition away from obesity can bring blood sugar levels down to a manageable level without insulin supplementation. 


The benefits of a keto diet for people who have type 2 diabetes are much more pronounced and readily apparent than are the benefits for individuals with type 1 diabetes. A multitude of clinical studies have concluded that there are many benefits for type 2 diabetes patients who have made the transition to a low-carb, high-fat diet (particularly unsaturated fat).

 These studies have shown that a low-carb, high-fat diet capable of inducing a state of ketosis resulted in a more significant improvement over metabolic control than a typical low-calorie diet.

Moreover, because of the Keto diet’s incredible ability to aid in weight loss — the leading cause of type 2 diabetes — following a keto diet can not only reverse many of the effects of type 2 diabetes but also significantly prevent the risk of its future development when used by non-diabetic individuals. 

Research published by the Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Group at the University Hospital in Aintree showed that among type-2 diabetics, a staggering 86% were either overweight or obese! What that tells me is that not only is type-2 diabetes very much preventable and manageable, but that the keto diet may be one of the single best ways to do just that.

Risk Analysis

As with type-1 diabetes, there are also risks associated with beginning a keto diet regimen for type-2 diabetics. The leading cause for concern regarding the latter is the negative effect on the lipid profile of the diabetic dieter. 

In the article cited above, under Andrea Mario Bolla, it was advised that type-2 diabetic sufferers weigh the benefits of reducing one’s body weight and fat percentage with the keto diet against the potentially undesirable impact it may have on their lipid profile. 

It could be postulated that for most type-2 diabetics, the pros of a keto diet will win out, but again, always consult regularly with a qualified medical professional when considering converting over to a keto diet. 


At this point, we have thoroughly concluded that based on the research examined in this article, not only can a person with diabetes utilize a keto diet, but they can also stand to gain from doing so in most instances. Type-2 diabetics, in particular, stand to benefit the most from keto of the two groups mentioned.

Ketogenic Diet Plans

Like any diet, there is a certain degree of individualization required when figuring out exactly how much of what you will need to take daily to reach your goal. Variations of the keto diet differ in their level of intensity (how many grams of carbohydrates remain in the dieter’s daily intake representing intensity, with fewer carbs equalling more intensity). 

Planning the keto diet which is right for you will depend on how you distribute your macros (see above section Typical Dietary Practices), food preference, and meal frequency. It’s also about knowing yourself, listening to your body, and being honest with yourself about your level of commitment.

Recommended Reading for a Keto Diet 

Before beginning the keto diet, one should read and research different methods of practice. The first book we recommend those going on a keto diet for the first time is titled Simply Keto: A Practical Approach to Health & Weight Loss, with 100+ Easy Low-Carb Recipes by Suzanne Ryan.

 In this all-encompassing book, Ryan shares her own experiences with weight management, personal development, and eventual success. This book offers programs, tips, fun, and exciting recipes, and above all else, it delivers a message of hope and inspiration.

The next book we advise prospective keto dieters to read is Keto Diet: Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, Boost Brain Health, and Reverse Diseasewritten by Dr. John Axe. This book delves more into the scientific aspect of the keto diet. In this book, Dr. Axe offers variations of the keto diet giving the reader options and flexibility in how they choose to go about embarking on their keto journey. 

Keto Diet even discussed exercise programming and philosophy, which is just one more reason this book is unique among its kind. 

Both books mentioned above come at keto from a different angle, and combined will provide you a complete wealth of knowledge on the subject. Becoming informed on the topic will be one of the main determining factors in your success. 

We suggest individuals interested in the keto diet take the time to read through these books and familiarize themselves with the principles of ketogenic before rushing into the keto diet unprepared, because as the old saying goes: you don’t plan to fail, you fail to plan. 


In this article, we set out to answer in-depth the question of whether or not a diabetic can do keto. In order to provide a definitive answer, many factors necessarily had to be considered. 

First, we needed to understand what exactly the keto diet is, and the physiological effects it has on our body. Secondly, we must understand the differences between Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes, how each one works, and the respective risk/reward ratio of following a keto diet for those affected. 

Above all else, working closely with healthcare professionals, doctors, and dieticians will significantly reduce the possibility of any adverse effects that may arise as a result of the keto diet. Always seek out the appropriate resources, and do not try to self-diagnose or go it alone. Getting involved with this diet could be one of the most important decisions you ever make.

Related Questions

Can your pancreatitis become worse from keto? Keto can make pancreatitis worse due to the diet’s high-fat content. Even healthy fats can cause a person to develop hypertriglyceridemia, which can trigger or worsen pancreatitis. Patients who have or have had pancreatitis should consult a doctor before going on the keto diet.

Is the keto diet safe for someone with high cholesterol? Yes, the keto diet is safe for someone with high cholesterol. Since a ketogenic diet includes a lot of fats, including saturated fats from meat and eggs, some people will see an increase in cholesterol, but these changes are actually positive.


Derek Masters

Derek Masters is an Amazon best-selling author. After much research, he began keto at 381 pounds in the middle of 2019. Losing 60 pounds and counting, he wants to share what he's learned with others who wish to learn about the ketogenic lifestyle

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