If you've followed Diabetes Meal Plans for sometime now, you're probably well aware that we encourage a low carb diabetic diet. If you're new to our community, now you know. 😉
Over the years it's been pretty common practice that people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes were recommended a low fat, high carb diet. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) still recommends 45-60 grams of carbs per meal. That's a lot!
At least it's come down a bit from the 75 grams they were recommending just last year!
Before digging into the low carb thing further, let's look at those typical ADA guidelines a little closer for one minute…
On the lower spectrum of carb intake you'd be looking at around 165 grams/ day once you include the 15 gram snacks they often suggest. On the upper spectrum, you're looking at a whopping 210 grams carbs per day.
If that's how much you're eating and wondering why you can't lower your blood sugar… well… it could be the amount of carbs you're eating.
Carbohydrates – the blood sugar/ A1C villian
While it's true that you can manage diabetes or prediabetes with various dietary patterns, a lower carb diet keeps proving itself as a winner among research studies.
And that's not surprising, because here's the thing, understanding blood sugar and A1C is pretty simple. They are both a measure of glucose (carbs) in your blood stream – finger pricks are your daily measurements, an A1c blood test is an average glucose measurement of the previous 3 months.
When it comes to diet, we know the nutrient that has the biggest influence on blood sugar is carbohydrates. Sure, the type of carb is important. For instance, sugar and refined carbs are crappier sources of carbs than complex carbs like whole grains. BUT… listen up…
The AMOUNT of carbohydrates you eat has the greatest influence on your numbers.
This is no secret. Every organization, study, dietitian, nutritionist and doctor should know this. It's super, super simple.
So if the amount of carbohydrates makes the most impact, why would we recommend a low fat, high carb diet to type 2 diabetics?
The answer is: we definitely shouldn't.
Not because it's just our opinion or the way we want to eat. But because science shows it works for improving your health outcomes. And that's what's important.
Research shows low carb diets outperform low fat diets
Here at Diabetes Meal Plans, we try to stay on top of the latest research – because we want to help you make the best choices for your health. And you can only do that when you are given quality, accurate evidence-based information.
As our motto goes:
Diet + Health Education = Knowledge and Empowerment
So look, let's just shoot off some of the scientific stats so you can assess this yourself:
#1: In type 2 diabetics, the low carb diet outperformed the low fat diet in a one year clinical trial.
While the blood glucose and A1c levels were similar, the:
- Low carb group: 52% reduced medications and had a greater reduction in triglycerides
- Low fat group: 21% reduced medications
Plus, in those following the low carb diet, there was a greater increase in HDL (the good cholesterol).
Improvements in cholesterol and heart health is often an unexpected result for many people following a lower carb diet because many people think increasing your fat intake will increase your cholesterol levels. But this isn't the case.
#2: In type 2 diabetics, the low carb diet outperformed the low fat diet (following ADA guidelines) in an 8.1 year follow up of a 4 year randomized trial:
- Low carb group: Blood glucose reduction 26 mg/dl (1.4 mmol/l), 35% maintained an A1C level below 7%, only 44% of people still used medications, 5% sustained diabetes remission (normal blood glucose) after 5 years, and they also sustained better cholesterol profiles.
- Low fat group: Blood glucose reduction 15 mg/dl (0.8 mmol/l), 11% maintained an A1C level below 7%, 70% of people still using medications, zero sustained diabetes remission.
#3: A review of 7 clinical trials shows low carb diet outperforms the low fat diet:
- Low carb diet: A1C reduction of 1 to 2.2%, weight loss 10.3 pounds (4.7 kg), 52% of people ceased taking medications
- Low fat diet: A1C reduction of 0.7%, weight loss 6.3 pounds (2.9 kg), 21% of people ceased taking medications
And the researchers observed that the low carb diet produced reductions in fasting glucose levels from 210 to 146 mg/dl (11.6—8 mmol/l) in just weeks!
#4: A 3 month trial in type 2 diabetics showed a low carb diet outperforms the low fat diet (ADA guidelines):
- Low carb diet: A1C reduction of 0.6%, fasting glucose reduction 11.1 mg/dl (0.6 mmol/l), weight loss 12 pounds (5.5 kg), reduction in inflammatory molecules 1.5
- Low fat diet: A1C reduction of 0%, fasting glucose reduction 1.2 mg/dl (0.1 mmol/l), weight loss 5.7 pounds (2.6 kg), reduction in inflammatory molecules 0.7
Low carb participants also had less carbohydrate and sweet cravings, less distress in relation to managing their condition, and less negative mood swings.
#5: Yet another one year clinical trial in type 2 diabetes showed that a low carb diet outperforms the low fat diet (ADA guidelines):
- Low carb diet: A1C reduction of 2%, weight loss 22.2 pounds (10.1 kg), LDL reduced 24.8%, HDL increase 12%
- Low fat diet: A1C reduction of 1.6%, weight loss 15.6 pounds (7.7 kg), LDL reduced 13.8%, HDL no change
#6: In our review of weight loss diet for diabetics:
- Low carb diet average weight loss: 12.9 pounds (5.8 kg)
- Low fat diet average weight loss: 7 pounds (3.2 kg)
- Vegan diet average weight loss: 2.4 pounds (1.1 kg)
#7: Another review comparing diabetic diets made the suggestion that all dietary guidelines for type 2 diabetics should be revised with the low carb diet as a first line of recommended action.
And you can find even more research over here.
As you can clearly see yourself, a low carb diet outperforms a low fat diet!
Some will continue to claim that we do not have enough long term evidence. Look, we always need more evidence for everything but one thing is plain and clear: the current dietary recommendations are not working.
And, a low carb diet has proven quite the opposite, in real live people as well. You only have to view our testimonials and member stories.
Please pin, tweet or share; then keep reading. 🙂
Stories of our Members and Subscribers
The research shows that a very low carbohydrate diet (below 30 g carbs day) does produce the best results with A1C. But, this is very low and can be difficult to follow long term. The research also indicates that anything below 130 grams per day will provide great benefits.
The point is, if you can lower your carbs by any amount, you'll experience advantages!
We've found the middle ground seems to work really well – aiming for an average 80-100 grams of total carbs per day, which will average out around 50-70 grams net carbs in most cases (total carbs minus fiber equals net carbs).
We know this dietary pattern works. And so do many of our members…
JoAnn: “I started using your help last year (the 30 Day Turnaround Program) when I found out that I had type 2 diabetes. You have been so much help to me this past year. My a1c started out around 9.5. It has been at 5.4 for the past six months. I have lost close to 50 pounds and my goal is 20 more to be were I need to be. Thanks again for all the great recipes and help.”
Tony: “Thanks. I’m down 30 lbs since joining last year (VIP Member) and my last A1C was 6.4.”
Jim: “I first found DMP just before Thanksgiving. OH well! I actually joined (the 30 Day Turnaround Program) in mid January. My blood glucose varied from 200 to 250 and I felt very out of control. Now I’m a pretty consistent 160 and slowly going down. I have also dropped 8 pounds.”
Sheryl: “After about 3 months, my doctor’s report was best ever: A1c was normal for the first time since I was diagnosed diabetic in 2007; My LDL was 60; my total cholesterol was 130. My lab results were improved across the board. Best news: I am taking less diabetic meds, and my weight is within 5 lbs of normal BMI. (Sheryl took the 30 Day Turnaround Program, then became a VIP member)”
Even our subscribers use our great blog info to get results:
Paul: “I’ve been following your low carb meal/snack advice for about three months now. I’m a 77 year old male, and went from an A1c reading of 7.9 to 6.0; also lost 22 pounds. Thanks for all the help!”
Why do we encourage a low carb diet for type 2 diabetics?
Quite simple… BECAUSE IT WORKS!
If you need help getting on track, start with these 10 dietary essentials:
- Diabetes diet food list
- Low carb pantry stocking guide
- Low carb diet guidelines for T2 Diabetes/ Prediabetes
- How many carbs per day
- Where to start with your diabetic diet plan
- The easy way to reduce and control carbs
- 2 Day sample menu for T2 diabetes
- Healthy carbs 101
- Fats 101
- Protein 101
If you haven't made the switch to a lower carb diet, maybe it's time you take the plunge so you can get better results.
Just remember, if you take insulin, you should get the help of your physician or health care team as you will need to reduce your dosage as you reduce carbs.
Have you got some results to share yourself? Made some great changes? Share your comments below, we'd love to hear them. 🙂