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Ketogenic Diet Aids Weight Loss, But May Trigger Type 2 Diabetes, New Study Says

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow is one of a slew of celebrities who follow a low-carb, high-fat keto diet. (Photo: Elle)


High-fat, low carb ketogenic-style diets promote rapid weight loss, and may help prevent and manage disease, but a new study of mice found that a keto diet can also trigger type-2 diabetes.

A slew of celebrities say they follow a keto diet to stay healthy and stay in shape. The include Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, LeBron James, Megan Fox and supermodel Adriana Lima among others.

Kim Kardashian weight loss

Kim Kardashian is an advocate of keto diets. (Photo: Instagram)

The findings have just been reported in the Journal of Physiology. ETH Zurich along with the University Children’s Hospital Zurich conducted the study.

Obesity expert Dr. Tim Noakes, a physician and professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, maintains that reducing carb intake and eating more unprocessed fat is the best chance we have to prevent and manage obesity, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The idea is to cause the body to lapse into ketosis, a normal metabolic process caused by a shortage of glucose in the body. When that happens, our metabolism burns stored fats instead; this results in a build-up of acids called ketones.

Ketogenic diets are also supposed to keep blood sugar levels stable. But the new research suggests that just the opposite may be the case.

Mice on ketogenic diets showed insulin resistance in the liver, which could impede the control of blood sugar. The condition is considered a precursor to Type-2 diabetes.

“Although ketogenic diets are known to be healthy, our findings indicate that there may be an increased risk of insulin resistance with this type of diet that may lead to Type-2 diabetes,” says lead researcher Christian Wolfrum, a professor at ETH Zurich University in Switzerland.

“Cutting out whole food groups risks damaging long-term health,” says Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England.

Gerald Grandl, PhD, co-author of the study and professor at the German Research Center for Environmental Health, said “no one will get type 2 diabetes while on keto, simply because the carb intake is not high enough to develop any form of hyperglycemia.”

What happens is the liver becomes insulin resistant, which he thinks is reversible when the person switches back to a high-carb, low-, or medium-fat diet. But adding carbs to a diet high in fats is definitely a bad idea, he said.

No human studies have been conducted yet to test whether a keto diet causes type 2 diabetes. The results in mice were also caused by a diet high in vegetable shortening, which isn’t recommended for human consumption.

Dr. Noakes, author of “Challenging Beliefs,” has made headlines in his native South Africa for his no-holds-barred stance against the consumption of refined carbs.

It’s not saturated fat that’s making us fat and sick, he maintains. It’s our consumption of a high-carb diet, especially one high in sugar.

Noakes pointed out that no one has ever proven that saturated fat causes heart disease, even though this is a widely held belief.

According to obesity experts, a high-carb diet promotes disease and weight gain by causing pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin. By limiting those surges, inflammation, which is what fuels disease, is reduced, they say.

Dr. Jeff Volek, author of “The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living,” says the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet is beneficial both for elite endurance athletes and the average sedentary individual.

There are very few people that a ketogenic diet could not help,” said Volek, who has followed the ketogenic diet for the past 20 years.

Research shows ketogenic diets reduce inflammation and can curb depression and bipolar disorder. A ketogenic diet has already proven effective for managing epilepsy-induced seizures.

Dr. Eric Charles Westman, director of the Duke University Obesity Clinic, has helped hundreds of morbidly obese individuals lose thousands of pounds on high-fat ketogenic and Atkins diets.

“I tell my patients not to fear the fat,” says Westman, co-author of “Keto Clarity.’

“Eat lots of fat. Fat makes you feel full. There’s no problem with fat. In fact, saturated fat — the fat that we’ve been taught not to eat — raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat,” he says.