Can a Low Carb Diet Lead to Diabetes?

Research has found that a ketogenic diet can prevent the body from using insulin properly, leading to insulin resistance and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes can lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels with the ketogenic diet. In one study, people with type 2 diabetes lost weight, needed fewer medications, and lowered their A1c after following the ketogenic diet for a year. The ketogenic diet is often seen as a go-to diet for people living with diabetes, as it focuses on controlling carbohydrates.

Most studies compare a low-carb or very low-carb diet, defined as less than 26% or 10% of daily calories from carbohydrates, with low-fat diets. The ketogenic diet was originally created in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy and emphasizes fats and proteins while severely limiting carbohydrates and sugars. Studies have shown that metabolic processes are altered when people eat a high-fat diet such as meat and a low-carb diet such as bread and pasta. Several publications have warned that the ketogenic diet (KD) or low-carb, high-fat (LC-HF) diet can lead to the development of diabetes.

A study showed that mice on a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet appeared healthier while on the ketogenic diet but began to rapidly develop insulin resistance after just a few days of dieting. Grandl and colleagues compared a high-fat diet to a ketogenic diet in mice by feeding them specific foods and then conducting tests to understand how their bodies reacted to the diets. High-fiber and low-fat diets have been found to be just as effective or more effective than low-carb plans in many studies for achieving weight loss and reducing glucose intolerance.