Is the Keto Diet Effective for People with Diabetes?

Authored by The Rx Advocates, / Medically Reviewed by Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS


People with new diagnoses must learn the best methods for treating their disease. A well-rounded approach includes blood sugar monitoring and maintaining proper nutrition. For some, it also means taking appropriate medications.

Many consider the Keto diet essential in their efforts to manage diabetes. For this to be effective, it’s necessary to have a basic understanding of both the disease and the diet.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease affecting more than 34 million Americans. It affects people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic statuses. No one is exempt from the threat of this condition. It is an illness with no cure.

The causes of diabetes vary. They include hereditary factors, dietary choices, excess weight, pregnancy, etc.

Because of its status as a chronic condition, diabetes requires constant management. Otherwise, the blood will either have too much or too little sugar. This can have devastating effects on your health. Not keeping careful monitoring can have consequences.

Some of the ways diabetes impacts your health overall can include:

  • Kidney malfunction
  • Cardiovascular problems (including heart disease and stroke)
  • Vision problems (up to and including blindness)
  • Limb amputations (often a foot or lower leg)
  • Difficulties in healing from wounds
  • Lowered immune health

When you have diabetes, your body cannot deal with blood glucose. The pancreas becomes incapable of processing insulin correctly. This leads to variations of this condition, each requiring specific approaches to treatment.

Types of Diabetes

As can be true with other illnesses, diabetes can come in different ways. Each type determines the course of treatment a patient should take.

Condition types include:

  • Type 1 diabetes: A hereditary condition in which the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. This is due to destructive autoimmune factors. Type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood and occurs regardless of environmental factors. With proper healthcare, patients with type 1 diabetes can live a full life.
  • Type 2 diabetes: This form of diabetes is the most prevalent of all the types. It results from the body’s inability to process insulin as it should. Often, this can be connected to dietary choices, weight, and fitness level. Many patients with this type of diabetes can adjust their life choices to manage the disease.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Occurring during pregnancy, the cause of gestational diabetes is unknown. It is usually only experienced during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes should constantly be carefully monitored.
  • Prediabetes: While technically not a diabetes type, it is a warning sign when someone is pre-diabetic. Blood sugar levels are higher than normal in prediabetic patients. However, they are not high enough to classify as diabetic. Every effort should be made to encourage the body to create, store, and process insulin properly.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Being aware of the symptoms of diabetes can help lead to a faster diagnosis. While there is no cure, effective handling of this illness is vital.

If you experience the following symptoms, be sure to speak with your doctor:

  • Increased urgency and frequent peeing (especially in the nighttime)
  • Increased thirst
  • Losing weight without effort
  • Increased unusual hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness and tingling in the appendages
  • Increased tiredness
  • Unusually dry skin
  • Sores are healing slower than normal
  • Increased number of infections

Managing Diabetes

Managing diabetes in every form is critically important. It is an overall approach to ensuring a healthier life. People experience the most success when including a combination of the following steps:

  1. Weight Management: A healthy weight can improve the chances that your diabetes stays under control. Talk with your doctor about the steps to get your healthiest weight.
  2. Regular Exercise: Fitness is key to diabetes management. Regular exercise has benefits lasting into your future care of living with diabetes. Examples of good exercise include walking, swimming, or other aerobic activity.
  3. Medications: Fortunately, there are many medications for patients to consider when treating diabetes. Always have supervision and direction from a medical professional. The following medicines are some options available to help manage diabetes symptoms:
    1. Tresiba
    2. Admelog
    3. Metformin
    4. Glipizide
  4. Proper Nutrition: A healthy diet with nutritious foods nourishing the body is key. Develop a library of recipes that incorporate fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables. It is good to also focus on protein-rich foods.

Take steps today to enjoy a healthy food lifestyle, supporting sound diabetes management. While many options are available, choosing a diet plan best suited for you is essential. One option to consider is the keto diet.

What is the Keto Diet?

Starting a new diet may seem overwhelming at first. Understanding the eating plan’s goal and focus can increase the possibility of success.

A keto diet has a simple goal: to obtain most calories through fats rather than carbohydrates. This is achieved by focusing on incorporating healthy fats. There are also protein-rich options and a deliberately low amount of carbs.

Some people succeed with this diet because the body is depleted of stored sugars. Ketone molecules are produced, used for fuel, and instrumental in burning fat.

Keto Diet and Diabetes: Is it Effective?

The benefits gained through a low-carbohydrate diet are central to diabetes management. Because a keto diet has that as its focus, there is reason to believe it can benefit a patient with diabetes.

In many ways, keto diets align with health professionals’ diabetic nutrition guidelines. For many, this can be an effective solution for losing weight and reducing the body’s stored blood sugars.

The keto diet seems likely to be effective in helping treat diabetes, at least in the short term. Lowering weight can increase the health of a person with diabetes. It reduces the amount of sugar stored in the body and increases the energy needed for regular exercise.

Choosing a keto diet can be a good option for you. Discuss this further with your doctor to ensure you make your best choice.

However, there are some things to be aware of when deciding if it is the right option. These points include:

  • Types of Protein: Choosing lean proteins is important for heart health. Being heart-healthy brings many benefits for people with diabetes. Some people ‘doing keto’ make food choices without regard for fat content. For a person with diabetes, it’s good to choose lean protein even when following a keto diet. Fat can increase blood sugar in a person who is consuming a low-carb diet.
  • Sustainability: Diabetes is a lifelong diagnosis. Therefore, choosing an eating plan that can be followed long-term is necessary. Many people find the keto diet a good short-term solution but harder to sustain long-term. This raises questions about whether the keto diet is effective for people with diabetes.
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  3. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Symptoms and Types. 2022. Available at:
  4. American Diabetes Association. Type 1 Diabetes. 2022. Available at:
  5. American Diabetes Association. Type 2 Diabetes. 2022. Available at:
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prediabetes. December 21, 2021. Available at:
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Diabetes: Symptoms. November 29, 2021. Available at:
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Living with Diabetes. March 9, 2022. Available at:
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Healthy Weight. April 28, 2021. Available at:
  10. Admelog. 2022. Available at:
  11. Metformin. May 24, 2022. Available at:
  12. Glipizide. May 17, 2022. Available at:
  13. American Diabetes Association. Recipes and Nutrition. 2022. Available at:
  14. Medical News Today. Keto Diet: Benefits and Nutrients. January 7, 2020. Available at:
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