Reliance on insulin is a common occurrence for those with diabetes. Still, food-based interventions like a plant-based or ketogenic diet can reduce the need for medication.
Plus, regulating insulin and glucose with the diet has a low barrier to entry with no side effects, and you can quickly begin making sustainable changes today.
Eating a ketogenic diet may affect insulin levels differently depending on a person’s individual medical and lifestyle factors. However, limiting fast-acting carbs and simple sugars improves insulin sensitivity and glucose levels, preventing drastic spikes and dips that adversely affect mood and performance.
Following a well-balanced diet filled with whole and organic foods, rich in nutrients and antioxidants that sit lower on the glycemic scale, is the perfect approach to minimizing carb intake and resetting the body’s ability to regulate the efficient production and use of insulin as needed.
Plus, stay mindful of the following tips as you monitor carb intake if you are following a low-carb, high-fat diet to minimize or eliminate the adverse effects of diabetes:
- MCT oil: MCT oil may help manage diabetes by lowering fat storage and increasing a thermogenic, fat-burning effect that could potentially help regulate blood sugar. Plus, fatty acids made by MCT (medium-chain fatty acids) may enhance your sharpness and concentration, especially those with very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), who could benefit from the boost of fat provided by healthy fats and ketones.
- Dark leafy greens: Incorporating more significant amounts of dark leafy greens into your keto meal plan is always advised. But stocking up on kale, spinach, and chard can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and aid in balancing glucose levels and reducing weight, which work together to better manage blood sugar.
Omega-3 fish: Regularly consuming omega-3-rich fatty oils is excellent for promoting heart health and managing healthy cholesterol levels, and emerging research suggests that taking a premium oil supplement could help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Also, supplements and omega-3-rich foods elevate levels of a hormone called adiponectin that's related to insulin sensitivity.
Seafood options like mackerel, salmon, sardines, and herring are all excellent fatty fish to add to your weekly meal plan to help you feel full while suppressing sugar cravings.
Grass-fed Beef (preferably 80/20): Eating grass-fed and grass-finished beef as a centerpiece of your keto meal plan offers a highly nutrient-dense protein option that's also shown to support normal glucose levels thanks to its abundant satiating fat content.
Plus, grass-fed beef is said to contain up to six times more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed meat cuts.
Extra virgin olive oil: A Mediterranean diet adherent would extol the numerous health benefits of consuming extra virgin olive oil on a daily basis, and with good reason. Recent research has shown that a diet abundant in olive oil and olive fruit helps to prevent diabetes by lowering glucose levels, LDL (low density lipoprotein) and triglycerides.
Plus, olive oil’s benefits for overall health also prevent several comorbidities commonly found in diabetic patients.
- Low-glycemic fruit: Eliminating sugar and most carbs can prove challenging if you’re a recovering carb-craver, but including low-glycemic fruits into your low-carb plan can help keep you honest with a touch of sweetness that won’t spike your blood sugar while offering loads of antioxidants.
Load up on the following keto-friendly fruits to satiate a sweet tooth craving in a flash:
- Avocado: This creamy and delectable fruit is brimming with vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. Plus, the avocado’s low-carb, high-fiber ratio is ideal for promoting blood sugar stability. Also, the healthy fats found in avocados can prevent diabetes complications, like heart attack and stroke, and improve your body’s insulin sensitivity.
- Olives: Adding these salty pods to salads or snacking on them right out of the pack is an excellent fast-food snack option that is fiber-rich and aids in eliminating cravings for salty starches like potato chips.
- Raspberries: Enjoying a handful of vibrant raspberries provides a hearty helping of antioxidants and helps fight inflammation. A serving of one cup of raspberries contains about 64 calories and has roughly 15 grams of carbohydrates, with more than half of the carbohydrates consisting of dietary fiber, which makes these juicy berries an ideal snack option for those with diabetes and prediabetes.
- Blueberries: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) considers blueberries and other low-glycemic berries to be diabetic-friendly superfoods. Focus on portion control so as not to overdo it on macros while adding more color and anti-inflammatory foods to your keto diet.
- Blackberries: While high-glycemic fruits like mangoes and pineapples are less than ideal on a keto diet, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you can still enjoy plenty of fresh berries in your diet. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries all rank low on the glycemic scale—so you can enjoy them freely, as they’re also a fabulous source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
- Strawberries: Keep these tart and sweet low-glycemic berries near by on a low-carb, high-fat plan as they satiate a sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar.
Stay hydrated: Taking extra care to replenish fluids is especially important on a ketogenic diet, as the body tends to release more water, vitamins, and other electrolytes when in a fat-fueled state of ketosis.
Plus, sipping lots of water can help to rid the body of excess glucose, while warding off dehydration and its resulting side effects like fatigue. If you're living with diabetes, you should drink lots of fluids.
- Hormone balancing benefits: Limiting simple sugars and fast-acting carbs affect hormone health in many ways, and this is crucial for those with diabetes because unbalanced hormones may trigger hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and/or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)—potentially also leading to insulin resistance, which may lead to weight gain or other metabolic concerns that affect diabetes management.
- Insulin regulation on a low-carb diet: Limiting carb intake reduces the amount of insulin in the body and this lessens instances of insulin resistance, which contributes to overweight and obesity in those with diabetes due to the production of very high levels of insulin, which triggers the system to store body fat.
- Weight loss aids in glucose regulation: Even losing 5-10 percent of your body weight can help improve your blood sugar levels, if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic––and ditching this moderate amount of weight lowers your risk of developing diabetes by as much as 58 percent.
- Appetite suppression and fewer cravings support weight-loss efforts. Lowering sugar and carbs aids in accelerated weight loss, which in turn aids in regulating blood sugar balance and promoting healthy insulin production and output. Plus, the natural appetite suppression commonly experienced by those following a ketogenic diet is a fabulous leveraging tool to help you stick to your designated macros each day.
A ketogenic diet aids in balancing the body in many ways, and regulating glucose and blood sugar levels, along with hormones and metabolic function, collaborates to correct the insulin regulation issues linked to type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
For those embarking on a low-carb journey to manage blood sugar, it’s especially important to monitor carb macros, avoid all forms of overt sugar and fast-acting starches, and compose a meal plan consisting mostly of healthy fats, premium proteins, and as many whole foods as possible.
Once you limit carbs and convert the body to running on fat and ketones for fuel as opposed to glucose, you’ll notice that your body’s relationship to sugar and its ability to manage insulin can transform completely and for the better.
Track your fasted glucose early in the day and after eating to determine which foods agree with you and which are best to limit or avoid––even if they’re technically a low-carb food––if your post-meal glucose numbers read higher than desired.
Incorporate regular exercise, remain mindful of staying hydrated, and focus on feasting on sugar-free fare that will fill you up, boost energy, and also keep your A1c numbers in check, and you’ll mitigate the effects of blood sugar imbalances, even increasing your body’s metabolic efficiency on a low-carb, high-fat diet.
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