Is Keto a good or bad diet for hypoglycemia?

But first of all what is hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia also called hypo is triggered when blood sugar levels fall under 4 mmol/L. Too much insulin or too little food can spark a hypo. In people with diabetes, the balance of insulin, food and physical activity sometimes isn’t right and blood glucose levels drop too low. That’s when you start feeling wobbly. But this is not limited only to people with diabetes. If your body is used to a high carbohydrate diet and you suddenly have a prolonged period of not eating anything or only not eating carbs (ketogenic diet) than you blood sugar levels can drop and you start feeling dizzy and not right.

Typical hypoglycemia symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling weak
  • Elevated fasting blood sugar
  • Sugar and carb cravings
  • Feeling hangry
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Shakiness
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Headache

Most of this symptoms are also identifiers for the so called keto flu.

Hypoglycemia on ketogenic diet

It is completely normal to become hypoglycemic when you are starting the keto diet. The effect can last from a couple of days to a few weeks. It really depends if you already were insulin resistant and your typical diet before you started the keto diet. The standard American diet, high in simple sugars and processed foods, is notorious for causing problems with blood sugar regulation. However if blood sugar drops to far it can become dangerous so consulting a doctor is always advised. If you already know that you become hypoglycemic even when you have lunch a little bit later than usual it is advisable to start slowly and take some additional steps to ease the transition phase.

Hypoglycemia and insulin resistance

Reactive hypoglycemia symptoms which can occur in the early stages of insulin resistance, is characterized by low blood sugar symptoms like fatigue, weakness, dizziness and a sensation of hunger. If you already have developed insulin resistance or are in early stages it is advisable to do certain activities to reverse insulin resistance to reduce the hypoglycemia symptoms during the initial days of doing keto. There are ways how to naturally reverse early stages of insulin resistance.

Some risk factors for developing insulin resistance include:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Diet high in refined carbohydrates
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Apple shape (more weight around your middle)
  • Polycystic ovaries (PCOS)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • BMI greater than 29
  • Use of antidepressants (especially SSRIs)
  • Use of steroid medications

What can you do to reverse insulin resistance and reduce hypoglycemia before going on Keto diet

  • Lower your carbohydrate intake
  • Remove simple carbs and introduce more complex carbs
  • Start moving and exercising
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Reduce stress
  • Stop smoking

What can I do to reduce hypoglycemia during Ketogenic diet

  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a lot of low carb veggies to increase mineral intake
  • Make sure you eat enough fat
  • Supplement with MCT oil
  • Supplement with electrolytes

Look at this from the bright side, the longer you continue with the given diet, more adapted becomes your body and everything will become much easier. You have to understand that while the symptoms can vary from person to person, most people feel similar symptoms when starting with the ketogenic diet.

In general I think it is a good way to start the ketogenic diet with a 2 week period of intermittent fasting, followed by a 24h fast and then transitioning into full keto diet. You can read more about how to jump start and speed up your process of getting into ketosis.

Should I eat some sugar if my symptoms don’t go away?

So a natural response to low blood sugar would be, eat some sugar, but the thing is that our body is a complex machine and things are a little bit more complicated.

Let’s start with insulin

When you eat carbs, glucose is released into your bloodstream, and as a result your body releases insulin to bring down blood sugar levels. Now if you have any type of insulin resistance your body will secrete a large amount of insulin and you blood sugar levels will plummet to much.

So how can we escape this vicious cycle?

It turns out that insulin has a counterpart hormone called glucagon, and glucagon is triggered by high protein foods. So what it does is that it mobilizes and releases stored sugar from your liver and even from the muscles. You have this thing called glycogen; that’s stored sugar. Glucagon releases your stored glycogen to keep the sugars constant. So if you want to increase your blood sugar levels have a high protein snack, which will release glucagon which in effect will lower insulin and your blood sugar levels will increase.

I hope this article provided the information your were looking for.

 

Author

I am happy father of two and a health and fitness enthusiast.

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