Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has reached epidemic proportions in the modern world. For individuals affected by obesity-related T2DM, clinical studies have shown that carbohydrate restriction and weight loss can improve hyperglycemia, obesity, and T2DM.
Reducing carbohydrate intake to a certain level, typically below 50 g per day, leads to increased ketogenesis in order to provide fuel for the body. Such low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets were employed to treat obesity and diabetes in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Recent clinical research has reinvigorated the use of the ketogenic diet for individuals with obesity and diabetes. Although characterized by chronic hyperglycemia, the underlying cause of T2DM is hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance, typically as a result of increased energy intake leading to obesity.
The ketogenic diet substantially reduces the glycemic response that results from dietary carbohydrate as well as improves the underlying insulin resistance. This review combines a literature search of the published science and practical guidance based on clinical experience.
While the current treatment of T2DM emphasizes drug treatment and a higher carbohydrate diet, the ketogenic diet is an effective alternative that relies less on medication, and may even be a preferable option when medications are not available.