Prediabetic? The keto diet may be key
High-carb diets have been off limits in the world of weight loss for years, but did you know high protein may be a problem, too?
The ketogenic diet, focusing on high fat, low protein and carb intake, has taken the internet and health community by storm…and for good reason.
The human body digests and metabolizes different types of foods in different ways. Carbohydrates are ideal for quick energy, but if not used immediately, this energy is stored in the form of body fat. Over time, as we over-consume carbohydrates, our fat stores gradually increase, leading to weight gain.
Recent studies have increased our understanding of the importance of healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fats. Long considered the enemy for weight loss, these essential nutrients improve cholesterol and support heart health. Fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon and foods, such as avocados, nuts and eggs all contain healthy servings of these fats, which also help you feel and stay fuller longer.
By focusing the diet on high intake of these fats and moderate protein consumption, the ketogenic diet switches the body’s metabolic function from this quick-energy-to-fat cycle to a fat-burning one. Because protein and fat take more time to metabolize and produce less overall energy, the body is forced to burn and convert the energy stored in existing body fat. This cycle, called ketosis, can lead to rapid weight loss as these fat stores are tapped into over long periods of time.
This form of weight loss could have a particularly helpful impact on prediabetic and Type II diabetic patients. A common complication of diabetes is diabetic kidney disease, which can result in limited kidney function and even failure, explains nephrologist Dr. Maria Khan at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “When patients are in kidney failure or have certain kidney diseases, at a certain point, they are no longer able to metabolize a large amount of protein,” says Dr. Khan.
This being said, involving ketosis could therefore be the key to both healthy weight loss and kidney preservation, as both carbohydrate and protein intake are limited.
Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) recommends adults with diabetes limit protein intake to less than one gram per kilogram of body weight each day and that adults with chronic kidney disease avoid protein intake greater than 1.3 grams per kilogram per day.
“Many diabetic patients have reported improvement in their glycemic control with the ketogenic diet. I advise sticking to the lower end of the recommended protein intake for my patients with advanced chronic kidney disease and educate them to limit certain foods with a higher potassium content,” Dr. Khan says.
Focusing on moderate protein and higher omega-3 and monounsaturated fat intake, the ketogenic diet follows these guidelines while still filling you up and keeping you full. Thus, constant cravings are kept at bay while unwanted fat cells are burned away, in turn lowering risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Think reverse,” Dr. Khan says. “Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two main causes of chronic kidney disease in our country. When patients are able to maintain healthy weight, they can enjoy the benefits of strict glucose and blood pressure control. This prevents damage to the kidney filtration system. For patients with chronic kidney disease, this may mean staying off dialysis for a longer period of time.”
Limiting carbs and balancing intake of healthy fats and lean proteins could go a long way in maximizing quality of life. Between kickstarting weight loss and easing strain on the kidneys, prediabetic and Type II diabetic patients may find the ketogenic diet to be the key to a healthy lifestyle for years to come.
About the Author
Katie Helander, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern for Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. She is currently pursuing her BA in public relations and minors in international communication and Spanish at Illinois State University, where she also serves as the Chapter President of the Public Relations Student Society of America. In her free time, Katie enjoys theatre, traveling, working out, and learning new things. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in international relations or with a major public relations agency.