People of a certain age probably remember when the Stillman Diet, the Scarsdale Diet and the Atkins Diet were in vogue. They are low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets intended mainly for weight loss. Although researchers questioned their long-term effectiveness and safety, the idea that carbohydrate restriction can be beneficial to certain people, especially patients with diabetes, is still being investigated and finding support. The main area of research today has to do with ketones, which are chemicals the human body produces when fat, rather than sugar, is burned for fuel. The burning of fat occurs when carbohydrate intake is low, and that burning promotes weight loss. Also, for people with diabetes the evidence has been accumulating that a low-carb ketogenic diet can help control blood sugar.
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Now, a new study from researchers at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus has shed light on the effectiveness of ketone drinks. According to lead author Jonathan Little, PhD, “We wanted to know what would happen if artificial ketones were given to those with obesity and at risk for type 2 diabetes but who haven’t been dieting.” The research team had 15 people consume a ketone drink after they fasted overnight. Thirty minutes later the subjects drank a liquid containing 75 grams of sugar and their blood was tested. According to Little, “The ketone drink seemed to launch participants into a sort of pseudo-ketogenic state where they were better able to control their blood sugar levels with no changes to their insulin…. These supplements may have real potential as a valuable tool for those with type 2 diabetes.” Coincidentally, a study on ketone safety from Great Britain was published at about the same time as the British Columbia report. The researchers had volunteers drink ketone monoester drinks three times a day for 28 days and reported “sustained exogenous ketosis using a ketone monoester is safe and well-tolerated by healthy adults.”
Does this mean people with diabetes should start gulping ketone monoesters? Unfortunately, according to Little, not yet. Not only do the drinks taste “absolutely terrible,” he said, “there are a number of problems that we still have to work out, including the fact that we still don’t know what the long-term effects of consuming ketones are.”
Want to learn more about managing blood sugar? Read “What Is a Normal Blood Sugar Level?” “Managing Your Blood Glucose Ups and Downs”, and “Making Your Blood Glucose Monitor Work for You,” then see our blood sugar chart.