Following the correct diabetic diet is particularly important since many of the complications of diabetes are caused by high blood sugar levels. The correct diet for a diabetic is one that:
- helps diabetics stabilize and control blood sugar instead of making blood sugar control worse.
In many cases, a type 2 diabetic diagnosis can be successfully overcome with a change in diet. In Type 1 diabetes, in which insulin must be injected, many of the complications of the blood sugar highs and lows can be minimized, and lower doses of insulin can be used if the proper diabetic diet is followed and blood sugar control is maintained.
Any serious research and study will point to the fact that a ketogenic diet or a similar low carb diet is extremely successful in lowering and stabilizing blood sugar values, and as such, is the most effective diabetic diet to follow.
Here are just a few of many studies which showcase the effect of low carb, ketogenic diet on blood sugar control:
- In a 2004 study published in the Diabetes Journal, participants were given either the American Diabetes Association recommended a moderately high carb diet or a low carb diet. The mean 24-hour blood sugar reading at the end of the ADA high carb diet was 198 mg/dl. This is deep into diabetic diagnosis territory.
The mean 24-hour blood sugar of the participants at the end of the low carb diet was 126 mg/dl. The low carb diet resulted in a drop of 36% in mean blood sugar readings when compared to the moderate carb diet over the course of the study.
- Another gold standard metabolic ward study examined the effects of a low carb ketogenic (high fat) diet in obese persons with type 2 diabetes. Ten subjects were monitored while eating their usual diet for 7 days and then while on a very low carb diet for 14 days. Carbohydrate intake was reduced to 21 grams per day, but patients could eat as much protein and fat as they wanted and as often as they wanted. During the low carbohydrate-diet period, the subjects’ mean fasting glucose (blood sugar) decreased from 135 to 113 mg/dl, a 16% drop.
Those numbers mean that these diabetic patients went from having a blood sugar in the diabetic range to one which was NOT in the diabetic range, and this was just over a short two week period. This reduction in blood sugar required a decrease in diabetes medication in 5 of the 10 patients.
- In another study, eighty-three subjects were randomly allocated to one of 3 weight-loss diets for 8 weeks and on the same diets in energy balance for 4 weeks. Each diet provided identical amounts of calories but differed in the amount of carbohydrate, fat, protein and saturated fat included. This was expressed in a ratio (Carb: Fat: Protein; %SF). The diets included a:
- Very Low Fat (VLF) (70:10:20; 3%)
- High Unsaturated Fat (HUF) = (50:30:20; 6%)
- Very Low Carb (VLCARB) (4:61:35; 20%)
The results were telling. Those subjects on the very low carb diabetic diet lowered their fasting insulin by 33%, compared to a 19% fall on the HUF diet and no change on VLF (a lower fasting insulin means blood sugar was also lowered). The VLCARB meals also provoked significantly lower glucose and insulin responses at meal end. The authors concluded that very low carb diets were more effective in improving triglyceride levels, increasing HDL-Cholesterol, and improving fasting and post-meal glucose and insulin concentrations.
Real-Life Success Stories
Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, a Type 1 diabetic himself, has successfully treated thousands of type 1 and 2 diabetics with a low carb diabetic diet he developed over years of study.
He used himself as a test subject, rigorously testing his blood sugar after every meal, and deduced by trial and error what foods helped him control his blood sugar, and what foods made his blood sugar control worse.
He writes about his experiences and his diabetic diet treatment plans in two highly recommended books: The Diabetes Diet: Dr. Bernstein’s Low-Carbohydrate Solution and Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars.
Diana Schwarzbein has also successfully treated many diabetics with her low carb diabetic diet recommendations. She writes about her experiences in unlearning her medical school “low-fat” diet training and finding what really worked for her diabetic patients in her book titled: The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy, and Feeling Younger.
A Warning About the American Diabetes Association
An analysis of the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) shows that it makes diabetic blood sugar control almost impossible. Because of this blood sugar roller coaster effect, the ADA diabetic diet actually makes diabetics sicker.
The ADA recommends a carbohydrate level of 60 grams PER MEAL, which is very high, and it causes blood sugar to increase significantly. As a result, the diabetic patient has to take more insulin and frequently experience dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) reactions and other complications of uncontrolled sugar highs and lows.
Dr. Bernstein believes that a diabetic should have no more than 30 grams of carbohydrate PER DAY: 6 at breakfast, 12 at lunch, and 12 at dinner. This amount stabilizes blood sugar and helps reduce the amount of insulin needed. In some cases, type 2 diabetics have completely eliminated the need for insulin when using a low carb diet to control blood sugar.
- Low-Carbohydrate-Diet Score and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
- What Makes Us Fat And Why Noone Seems to Care A lecture by Gary Taubes given at UC Berkeley in 2007
- Can a High Fat, Low Carb Diet Beat Cancer?
- A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet to Treat Type 2 Diabetes Study published in JAMA.
- Effects of a Low Carb, High Protein Diet on Blood Glucose Study published in Diabetes journal.
- Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes
- The Protein Power Lifeplan by Drs Michael and MaryDan Eades
- The Diabetes Diet: Dr. Bernstein’s Low-Carbohydrate Solution by Richard Bernstein, MD
- Atkins Diabetes Revolution: The Groundbreaking Approach to Preventing and Controlling Type 2 Diabetes with Mary C. Vernon MD, CMD
- The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy, and Feeling Younger by Diana Schwarzbein
- Life Without Bread by Christian Allan, Ph.D. and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D.
- Natural Health & Weight Loss by Barry Groves, PhD
- How I Gave Up My Low-Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds (Revised and Expanded Edition) by Dana Carpender
- A Life Unburdened: Getting Over Weight and Getting On With My Life by Richard Morris