I Tried the Keto Diet to Manage My Diabetes — This Is What Happened
When Lele Jaro received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in 2006, she didn’t leave the doctor’s office with a complete understanding of how the condition would influence the rest of her life, or fully equipped with the tools she’d need to manage it.
“When I found out I had type 2, I didn’t really know how to feel about it. I was so young and, to put it bluntly, naïve about the whole diagnosis,” she recalls. “They gave me medication, some information [on] what to eat if you have diabetes, and that was it.”
Her doctor told her that she’d probably been living with the condition since she was in her teens. “The symptoms of type 2 diabetes creep up slowly without you really knowing the damage that it’s already doing to your body,” she says.
“I thought it was something I could eventually overcome. It wasn’t until I got pregnant at 29 when I realized that type 2 diabetes is a serious, chronic disease,” she says.
After working out and following her doctor’s diet recommendations, she managed to lose about 60 pounds by 2008.
But when it came to actually managing her diabetes, relying on weight loss simply wasn’t cutting it. Though she followed her doctor’s advice, it became increasingly clear to Lele that she’d need to take matters into her own hands and develop a means by which to manage her diabetes that didn’t leave her reliant on medication.
“The most common misconception about type 2 [diabetes] is that it’s easy to manage it by just losing weight,” she says. “While I understand that losing weight can definitely help you manage it, there are other factors that come into play, and losing weight is not the ‘end all’ solution to this issue.”
It’s not just about weight loss
“I knew how to lose weight. But managing my blood sugars were another issue,” says Lele. “Even though I had lost weight, my blood sugars were very high. I was taking around 100 to 110 units of insulin every day to manage my type 2 diabetes.”
Eventually, she came to realize that when it comes to diabetes management, how much you eat is important, but what you’re eating is highly impactful as well.
Realizing that her eating plan and medication weren’t enough to get her health to where it needed to be, Lele turned to the internet. On a Reddit channel, she learned all about the potential benefits of transitioning to a keto diet.
Though hesitant, her doctors allowed her to try the keto diet out — and Lele hasn’t looked back since.
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat dietary regimen which has been linked to improvements in insulin sensitivity and higher rates of weight loss — both positive factors in managing type 2 diabetes. Lowering carb intake induces a metabolic state known as ketosis, through which the body produces ketones which burn fat — rather than carbohydrates — for energy.
“The transition… to keto was difficult… But I wanted to really give keto a shot, especially if it helped with my type 2,” Lele recalls.
“After a month or two, my blood sugars improved. I cut my units down to 75 and that was a big deal for me. After showing my results to my doctors, they agreed that I should stick with keto,” she says.