Could a keto diet increase the risk of diabetes (if you’re a mouse)?

Grilled pork on the rustic background

Is it dangerous to follow a keto diet? A new study resulted in scary headlines recently, and got plenty of attention online – perhaps a keto diet could increase the risk of diabetes?

Sky News: ‘Keto diets’ could increase diabetes risk

While new science is always welcome, what is most needed sometimes is a reality check.

In the study, researchers fed mice (!) a keto diet for three days (!), and then ran a glucose tolerance test. They noticed that while the mice on a keto diet had a lower fasting blood glucose, it got higher after the glucose tolerance test and there were signs of a reduced effect of insulin compared to mice on regular mouse chow. That’s basically it.

The result? Newspaper headlines from click-seeking journalist warning about diabetes if people (humans, presumably) eat a keto diet.

Where to start. First of all, and crucially, humans are not mice. Secondly, the short-term (three days) adaptations to a keto diet may very well reduce the tolerance to a sudden glucose load, but whether that is a bad thing (even in mice) or simply normal is an open question.

Most importantly, a number of long-term studies (over months and years) and decades of experience in actual humans show that a keto diet reverses type 2 diabetes.

I guess the question is what you want to believe in. Debatable lab findings from one three-day mouse study, or long-term studies and practical experience in humans showing reversal of type 2 diabetes. I suggest the latter.

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  1. Robin
    It would be good to know who funded such a monumental study. Three days is not long enough to see a trend in anything, let alone long-term hormonal changes. I suggest that big food and big pharma are scared at the success people are having in restoring their health and the implications this has for their bottom lines. And of course, the media is eating it up!
  2. Cliff
    While I agree with most of the criticism of this study, I think stating 3 days of mouse life is not enough to elicit a satisfactory response to a keto diet may not be correct. Mice have significantly shorter lifespans than humans, and with some rough calculations assuming 1 human year is equivalent to 58 mice years shows that 3 days is ~6 months. Assuming mice metabolism operates at that increased rate may be a stretch but I think that it should be plenty of time to evaluate a response to dietary changes. The better criticism, I think, is that mice are not evolutionarily adapted to eat high fat diets and may not respond well to them in any situation. Therefore, findings in mice may not extrapolate well to humans.
  3. Darlene
    I can say from personal experience that the study is correct . In 2017 i started the keto diet my bs was 210 to 220 after a meal .one week on keto i had 120 to140 after a meal all was great ,felt good ,mental clarity etc.i never lost weight but was very excited about my blood glucose levels. I was on the diet for a total of 6 months. I finally got disgusted with eating all that animal fat and eating the foods and not having any carbs so I stopped the diet, wow! Big mistake. So now when I would eat even relatively low carbs and the kind of foods I was eating before I started keto my numbers would hit 400. Keto diet messed up my my diabetes even worse then I was before I started. If it sounds too good to be true it is. Did my. cholesterol go down? Yes . did my triglycerides get better? Yes. And so did my diabetes until I just couldn't need that way anymore.
    Reply: #14
  4. Sonika
    Darlene.... I'm confused, on Keto you are not supposed to eat animal fats, only healthy fats. What am I missing here?
    Replies: #13, #16, #33
  5. Robin
    And according to the study they fed the mice margarin and corn oil. Who on keto eats that poison?
    Reply: #20
  6. Curllee
    Insulin is part of the human biochemistry. Use it or lose it. As with any body part including organs the pancreas needs exercised but not abused.
  7. Brit
    People use the Keto diet as an excuse to eat meat all day 😂😂😂 You can definitely do keto without eating a bunch of animal fat. I would suggest days not eating animals at all and still be on Keto. What you should of done was increase your carb intake slowly with fruits and vegetables. Not go from 20 carbs a day to 120 carbs and not do it gradually
  8. Keto For Life
    Darlene, I have been keto for just over 10 months as a vegetarian— no animal fat whatsoever. And from your description it sounds like your real problem wasn’t keto, it was that you “started eating carbs again” and “went back to what I was eating before.” Why would you go back to eating the foods that gave you diabetes in the first place? There’s a huge variety of delicious things to eat on a keto diet that don’t require any animal fat. I eat delicious vegetables, cheesy creamy sauces, quiche, chia seed puddings with berries, real cream in my coffee, if I want something sweet I can make fantastic keto desserts with almond and coconut flour and erythritol sweetener. This is the easiest, most sustainable “diet” I have ever tried and I have tried an awful lot. I plan to eat like this for the rest of my life.
  9. Costin
    @Keto For Life. Do you have also diabetes too?
  10. Auntnano
    I did low carb for a year. I lost weight. I also started losing my hair and nails. My blood work was great though. I went off low carb. Now I do still mostly protien but I've added fruit strarchy veggies at times and yes occasionally bread. I now have digestive issues. My blood work is totally messed up. Also I have insulin resistance. I had none of these prior to going low carb except I needed to lose weight. I now have vitemin B,D, and other deficiencies. I take 10 vitamins (prescribed). I also take metoformin now. Though because of my digestive issues I throw it up at times. I believe if you go low carb. You have to stay low carb. If not you will have more health issues then prior. Just saying, that's my personal opinion and experience. I eat healthy and i gained weight back. I still stay away from sugar also. Sweets are a no for me.
  11. Jackie
    I have been doing low carb for about 4 1/2 months and was taking only 5 mg glipizide daily but my sugar was always close to 200 or over and A1C was 7 or greater and in these 4 short months my a1c is down to 5.4 glucose below 100 and I feel so much better, so you can t go back to eat high carb foods of you want to keep your glucose levels under control and as far as the high fat protein, all my cholesterol levels were awesome except the HDLs but they really were no different than what they have always been. I just need to exercise to get it under control.
  12. corydory
    Sonika animal fats are healthy fats. Stay away from processed oils. Auntnano, did you or do you eat enough fat? Eating too low calories can cause hair loss. With all of the problems going back to carbs, sounds like you need to go back to keto. I know I plan to eat this way for life
  13. Linda McDonald
    Where on earth did you hear that we're not supposed to eat animal fats on a ketogenic diet?! Wrong!! Have you even read this site that youre commenting on at all? Ignorance causes all the trouble on this planet! Butter, cheese, cream, lard, all animal fats, ARE used on this diet Darlene!
  14. Linda McDonald
    Also, forgot to mention, most on keto, will see cholesterol go UP, not down! But cholesterol is NOT a problem, sugar is! Read "Cholesterol Clarity" by Jimmy Moore.
  15. Lami
    Wrong. Doing keto for over a year and fell great. Low cholesterol no hair loss, Felling great every day. I eat animal and vegetal fat, cheese,nuts, vegetables and mct oil. I train crossfit and the first month was Hard, but after that regain strenght and power, basically i do the same without carbs. I take a range of vitamins. Lost a lot of weight in the begining but when a reach my goal i just started to eat a little bit more and stabilezed. My hair, my nails, my skin are better than ever, not even a cold in Winter. Maybe keto isnt for everyone because it needs a lot of discipline and thats the main problem. Oh i'm 49
    Reply: #19
  16. Lami
    What? Please inform yourself, this is Exactly what is wrong, People doping keto with no clue
  17. 1 comment removed
  18. CaseyKeto2018
    Interesting information. Does this dispute that eating white bleached sugar, and white bleached flower is good or not good? Potato chips more candy and junk food must be good for you too, right? Keto has done wonders for us!
  19. Casey
    Good on ya mate!
  20. Casey
    None of us do. Good on ya mate. Casey from Cally! 👍🏾
  21. Ruth
    Have been following Keto diet for 10 months, lost 27kg so far. All my blood work is fantastic, my heart physician and respiratory physician ate astounded at my health, I just turned 70. Traveling Aust in my motorhome. Best way of eating ever.
  22. Thin Tim
    Diet Doctor is poorly positioned to offer useful comment. Their evangelical , “four legs good , two legs bad” approach anything resembling criticism is disappointing.

    I think the science is strong in support of Keto, but there is no science in this diet doctor response

    Reply: #25
  23. Richard
    And you don't have to be keto, just fat adapted. Anyone who ditches the sugar, grain, and industrial grain oils and starts simply walking alot will do great because it's what our mitochondria were designed to function best with. Study mitochondria and the rest will fall into place. I pasture raise my beef and my chickens eat bugs..lots of great high Omega THREE fats to be had if they are natural. I'm 53, in the last four years went from 190 with all kinds of health issues to 145 and doing triathlons, tough mudders and dirt bike expeditions! My exercise is a one hour swim a week, a one hour easy cycle and 3-5 hours hiking with my dog! That's it...eating IS 80% of your health...
  24. Antwynette
    I did keto off and on for almost a year. Even when I wasn't really eating keto, I was still consuming a large amount of cheese, meat and eggs.

    I noticed month after month I began to have more and more pain. Primarily in my legs but all over really. I couldn't figure out why. My mother did keto as well but not as long as I did and she is fine.

    I began having so much trouble walking and literally began dragging my leg. I went from a cane, to a walker with a seat, to a power scooter in 6 months. I was absolutely terrified and doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. No lie, I can barely walk most days now.

    I'm now in the process of detoxing my body. I'm trying to get my body back to normal. I'm taking pro and prebiotics and slowly feeling a little better.

    Keto is the only link to my health declining. I can't explain it but something went terribly wrong in my body while I was on keto. I've heard nothing but good things about it and at first, I felt wonderful.

    I can barely stand now. I'm 42 years old. Keto is definitely not safe for everyone. For some reason, it sent my body into shock.

    Reply: #26
  25. Gentiann
    What do you mean by "there is no science" in DietDoctor answer? Did you miss the link to the studies ?
  26. Gentiann
    This is strange!
    People with fibromyalgia report feeling better while on a keto diet.
    Your post mentions eating "large amount of meat, cheese and eggs" and I suspect that it is just another piece of sneaky vegan propaganda designed to scare people away from keto diets.
    By the way, many have found that eating certain plants was in fact the trigger to their fibromyalgia flare up.
  27. Tony
    I have been following meal plans on diet doctor for 17 wks have lost 28lbs my blood sugars went from 16.2 down to 4.7 my blood pressure is normal now and I’ve been taken of blood pressure meds. I have had no loss of hair or nails or strength or stamina I stick to the amounts given and occasionally have an off day were I eat what I want to. To be honest I just feel that white breads and cakes don’t do it for me anymore I feel healthier following diet doctors meal plans than I have for years.
    P.S I’m 57 and told my doctor what I’m doing and he advocates it wholeheartedly. If at anytime in the future anything changes I will simply introduce more of a low carb maintenance diet plan into my life.
  28. Suska
    Do you any of you remember the ONE holy commandment of Keto diet? FASTING FASTING FASTING....I can see Darlene is a 100% vegan troll....These type of fake comments are everywhere in keto community....
  29. Tony
    I fast 14 hrs every day except 2 when I fast for 2 24 hr periods so I haven’t forgotten the 5&2 principal
  30. Sakshama
    I was pre-diabetic with 5.9 A1C, followed a Keto diet for 3 months, lost 11kg, felt great and went for a regular checkup with the doctor. I was expecting a significant reduction on the A1C and instead, I was diagnosed with a Diabetes type 2 with 6.6 A1C and put on Metformin. I'm still scratching my head and thinking maybe the results are wrong. I really like the Keto diet but somebody please explain what did happen with me and help me make a sense of the whole experience.
    Reply: #31
  31. Kristin Parker Team Diet Doctor

    I was pre-diabetic with 5.9 A1C, followed a Keto diet for 3 months, lost 11kg, felt great and went for a regular checkup with the doctor. I was expecting a significant reduction on the A1C and instead, I was diagnosed with a Diabetes type 2 with 6.6 A1C and put on Metformin. I'm still scratching my head and thinking maybe the results are wrong. I really like the Keto diet but somebody please explain what did happen with me and help me make a sense of the whole experience.

    You may wish to test blood sugar before and after meals to see if there are specific foods/meals that are causing your blood sugar to rise and/or stay high.

  32. E M
    being on Keto for 11 months I definitely see lower sugar tolerance.
    So if I have one fruit my sugar goes up to 140.
    I was not a diabetic before and my A1C was reduced from 5.5 to 5.2 on Keto.

    I still worry of the damage such spikes in sugar may cause.

  33. Kirsten
    Many, perhaps most people on keto eat animal fats. They are the healthy fats.

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