Here at Diabetes Meal Plans, we have been encouraging people to eat a low carb diet with diabetes, for years.
We consider ourselves pioneers in the field, because when we started sharing this information, diabetes associations around the world discouraged it, claiming ‘we did not have enough research' and that it was ‘dangerous to cut out entire food groups' like whole grains.
Fast forward a few years and things have changed, a lot!
As more research has become available, diabetes associations can no longer deny that a lower carbohydrate diet works to treat diabetes.
Here today, we'll:
- do a quick review of the history
- share a few facts from research studies
- list the type of results you might expect from following a low carb diet with diabetes
- and how you can get started with a low carb diet plan
Type 2 Diabetes Past & Present
In the past, type 2 diabetes was called ‘adult onset diabetes' because it was rare that younger people or children got the condition.
For instance, in 1958, the rate of type 2 diabetes was relatively small.
Fast forward to now, statistics show the entire world is facing a very BIG problem.
- It is now estimated that 8.5% of the world’s population is diagnosed diabetes, type 1 and type 2 collectively.
- This equates to roughly 1 in 11 people!
- According to the International Diabetes Federation, it is now estimated that over 640 million will have diabetes by 2040.
- And sadly, diabetes is no longer ‘adult onset' – now approximately 24% of youth have a diabetes diagnosis.
Managing Diabetes in the Past
Diabetes has always existed. Yet in the past people did not have all the medications that are available now. So what did they do? They predominantly managed their diabetes with diet.
Here's an example from a diabetic cookbook published in 1917, were page 13 lists the ‘Strictly Forbidden' foods.
The one linking characteristic for all these foods as they are foods higher in carbohydrates. So, back in 1917, diabetes was managed with a low carb diet!
The entire book is available free online, so browse for yourself to see the type of diet that was recommended.
In the past, people also used simple home remedies like vinegar to help lower blood sugar levels.
The point is, in the past people used a low carb diet and natural remedies to manage their type 2 diabetes.
Managing Diabetes 1980-2017
Once the dietary guidelines were introduced, people's diet changed a lot. We were encouraged to eat high carbohydrate foods and a low fat diet.
For many years we have feared fat, thinking that it would cause high cholesterol and heart disease.
Unfortunately for us, these guidelines were incredibly wrong. It's sad to say, they were based on very little evidence.
Accompanying the introduction of the new dietary guidelines, came the introduction of far more processed and packaged foods into our diet. People moved away from eating real food that was cooked at home, to eating easy convenient foods they could buy at the store. And the amount of junk food available to us, grew and grew.
We only have to look around to see the problems we now face – diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease – all of these health conditions are now rampant.
During these years, when people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they were told to ‘eat healthy and exercise.' But the common dietary advice was to eat more carbs and less protein and fat. Therefore, a person with diabetes could be eating 300 grams of carbs per day.
Just a few years ago, the American Diabetes Association were recommending people with type 2 diabetes eat 75 grams of carbs per meal, and snacks on top!
The same was true for other diabetes organizations such as Diabetes Australia and Diabetes Canada – they were recommending people eat the same diet as the rest of the population – a high carb, low fat diet.
Guess what? Many people with diabetes were not managing their blood sugar too well!
Meanwhile, we were encouraging people to eat a lower carb diet with great success:
- lower blood sugar
- lower A1c
- lower cholesterol
- lower blood pressure
- weight loss or maintenance
- less need for medication
- and improved overall health
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Managing Diabetes 2018 Onwards
In 2017 we saw some new research emerging that was proving that people could manage their blood sugar more effectively by following a lower carb diet.
In 2018, even more great research became available.
In the past, these organizations kept denying and ridiculing a low carb diet as ‘unsafe long term,' as ‘cutting out essential food groups,' as there ‘not being enough evidence.'
Finally in late 2018, the American Diabetes Association released their 2019 diabetes treatment guidelines, in which they finally admit that a lower carb diet can be beneficial for treating diabetes.
Finally in August 2018, Diabetes Australia released a position statement admitting that a lower carb diet can be beneficial for treating diabetes.
Of course, they are still not recommending a lower carb diet as the best diet to eat to treat diabetes. But the good news is we've come a long way.
Without a doubt, the future will see governments recognize a lower carb diet for diabetes treatment too (since they have a major health problem on their hands).
In 2019 we are bound to see more new research become available. And in fact, during my PhD this year I will be conducting my own research study into low carb diets to treat diabetes, using technology to deliver health programs.
Here at DMP we will continue to share the honest facts about what works to TREAT diabetes.
We know a lower carb diet works. That's what we have been teaching here for years. And our hundreds of testimonials prove that eating well gets results.
Results to Expect from Eating a Low Carb Diet with Diabetes?
Lower blood sugar
If you've been struggling to get your blood sugar levels in a healthy range, a lower carb diet can help you – and you can see results quite quickly, which can be very encouraging.
For instance, when we ran our previous 21 Day Lower Blood Sugar Challenge™:
- 84% of participants lowered after-meal blood sugar levels
- 34% of participants lowered fasting blood sugar levels
In just 21 days!
Margaret said: “At times my fasting levels were as high as 199 (11.1). After just 21 days my morning average is 121 (6.8) to 140 (7.8) and my after-meal numbers are normal! I had never seen a number much below 120 (6.7)! It does work and I am very thankful for the advice & encouragement.”
The good news is, you can also expect lower A1c levels. If you lower overall blood sugar levels, your A1c levels will follow because an A1c test measures the average amount of glucose (sugar/carbs) in your bloodstream over the past 3 months.
After participating in 21 Day Lower Blood Sugar Challenge™, Bill reported back saying:
“Got my results back today, my A1C is 5.2!!!”
Maria G says: “Try as I might, I could not get my A1c below 6.5 and that just wasn’t good enough. I joined DMP and the results have been amazing! A few months ago my A1c was 5.6. Right now it’s 5.3. I take no drugs, no insulin. Just DMP!”
It is a common misconception that eating fat will raise cholesterol. In fact, it's often quite the opposite. It's eating too many carbohydrates that increases cholesterol production, not eating fat.
While it seems counterintuitive, a lower carb diet can help lower cholesterol.
Sheryl says: “I want to tell you that I recently had my first doctor’s appointment since reading your material, and implemented changes you recommend. Since I am also a heart patient, I struggled to comprehend changes from “Fats 101” that sounded most profound from the diet I had originally been given. 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.”
Lower blood pressure
The type of low carb diet we recommend is one filled with whole foods and an abundance of vegetables.
This eliminates junk food and excess ‘added salt' and increases nutrient intake, such as potassium, which helps lower blood pressure.
Cindy says: “My blood pressure is coming down. It started at 210/100 Nov 20 and the nurse at work made me sit and wait until it was 98 on the bottom. Today (dec 14) it is 148/70. Thank you.”
Weight loss or maintenance
When you begin eating the right foods, your metabolism finally has a chance to breathe. After a short time, everything balances out and weight falls off more easily. And, instead of being stuck in a repetitive cycle of weight loss and weight gain, you will find that maintaining a healthy weight is easier, too.
Linda H, participant of the 21 Day Lower Blood Sugar Challenge™, said: “I’m so proud of myself for sticking with the challenge for 21 days. I’ve lost weight and changed eating habits. I lost over 11 pounds (5kg) in 21 days, lowered after-meal blood sugar from 151-160 (8.4-8.9) down to under 140 (7.8), and morning sugars from 121-140 (6.7-7.8) down to 101-120 (5.6-6.7). I look forward to keeping it up.”
Less need for medication
Medications are necessary sometimes. And they can be a great tool to help you get better results. And we understand that even in the long term, some medication may be necessary.
However, it's not good to rely on medications as a way to manage diabetes. In fact, it should be a goal to reduce medications as much as possible. And you should ask your doctor and healthcare team to support you in this pursuit.
You see, when your body doesn't have to fight so hard to compete against the foods you are putting into your body, you can reduce medications.
Studies show that a lower carb diet is most effective at medication reduction in people with type 2 diabetes. Our members report less need for, or elimination of medications such as Metformin. And for those who are insulin dependent, they also report lower insulin usage.
Cheryl says: “Last week I went in for my yearly physical and my A1c was 5.5! The doctor had told me that if I could keep my A1c under 5.7 for a year he would take me off metformin. So… I’m off metformin and you could say that I’m not pre diabetic anymore!”
Improved overall health
If you make a commitment to following a lower carb diet, you will be surprised at just how good you can feel. And you may also be surprised at the other health improvements you will see too.
Cheryl says: “Here are a couple of other interesting things that have happened as a result of lowering the A1c and this new way of eating.
- I no longer experience tingling in my hands and feet.
- My blood pressure, and triglycerides are normal.
- I no longer have UTI’s (I don’t understand the relationship between blood sugar and UTI’s, but I have not had even one infection in the 2 1/2 years I’ve been on this diet and I used to have them all the time)
- I’ve lost weight, and I feel better.
How to Get Started with Your Low Carb Eating Plan
The easiest way to get started is to cut out bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes.
Yes, this may sound extreme but these are high carb foods that will influence your blood sugar and A1c levels the most.
Instead, choose lower carb real foods – vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, butter, and so forth. These are the foods our bodies were designed to eat – natural whole foods.
Here's a few additional resources to help you get started:
- Our recommended food list
- Low carb pantry stocking guide
- Low carb diet guidelines for T2 Diabetes/ Prediabetes
- Join the 21 Day Lower Blood Sugar Challenge™ – official start date is Feb 8, where we will show you exactly what to eat to lower blood sugar and A1c levels.
Maxine: “I got my numbers down to the normal range. I feel encouraged to know that if I watch what I eat, it does make a big difference. These relieves a lot of stress from worries that I will continual get worse.”
Shane: “Before the challenge my postprandial bs average 181 (10.1) to 200 (11.1). After the challenge it reduced to normal range of 121 (6.8) to 140 (7.8). Thanks for the information, it has proved very helpful.”
Harriet: “I liked doing the challenge. It helped a lot in lowering my morning levels from average 226 (12.6) to 250 (13.9) to between 161 (9.0) to 180 (10.0). Thank you for helping me.”
Larry “The most important achievement was the percentage of time I was in range now as compared to prior. Prior I would be in range approximately 55-60% of the time, now I”m in a range approximately 76-85% of the time.”
David “Lowered blood sugar from 141 (7.9) to 150 (8.3) to under 140 after meals. I actually enjoyed doing this challenge. I learned about different foods that I don't usually eat. I'm going to change things in my life.”