Many people with diabetes are following a low-carb diet because of its benefits in terms of improving diabetes control, weight loss and being a diet that is satisfying and easy to stick to.
Low-carb diets are flexible and can be followed by people with different types of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is often related to obesity, and diet changes, exercise and weight loss cornerstones of managing it. Low-carb diets are often promoted for weight loss and reining in blood sugar.
Why follow a low-carb diet?
Carbohydrate is the nutrient which has the greatest effect in terms of raising blood sugar levels and requires the most insulin to be taken or be produced by the body.
Lowering sugar levels is clearly a benefit for people with diabetes. Lower need for insulin is also particularly useful as lowering insulin in the body can reduce insulin resistance which can help towards reversing type 2 diabetes. Insulin is also the fat storage hormone in the body, so reducing insulin in the body with a low-carb diet can help with losing weight.
Benefits of low-carb diets
The benefits of a low-carb diet typically include:
- Lower HbA1c
- Improved weight loss
- Less chance of high sugar levels occurring
- Lower risk of severe hypos
- More energy through the day
- Less cravings for sugary and snack foods
- Clearer thinking
- Lower risk of developing long-term health complications
What counts as low-carb?
Low-carb is a flexible way of eating that allows you as an individual to choose a level of carbohydrate that works well for your diabetes and lifestyle.
- Moderate carbohydrate: 130 to 225g of carbs
- Low carbohydrate: under 130g of carbs
- Very-low carbohydrate: under 30g of carbs
Generally speaking, the lower your carbohydrate intake, the more likely you are to lose weight and the lower sugar levels you are likely to have. It’s important you choose a level of carbohydrate that works well for you.
For example, people with type 1 diabetes that do not need to low weight may wish to aim for a low or moderate carbohydrate intake. Someone with type 2 diabetes, or needs to lose weight, may wish to aim for a very-low carbohydrate ( ketogenic ) intake.
How carbohydrates affect the body?
Carbohydrates, as do proteins and fats, provide energy so they help to fuel the body.
Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose so when carbohydrates are consumed, an increase in blood sugar levels occurs to a greater or lesser extent according to the amount of carbohydrate.
How to follow a low carb diet?
A healthy low carb diet should have the following features:
- Strong vegetable intake
- Modest increase in fat intake from natural sources
- Moderate protein intake
- Low reliance upon processed food, sugar and grains
Fats and protein
If you are significantly reducing the amount of carbohydrate in your diet, you may need to make up some of the reduced calories with either protein or fat.
It is advisable to ensure the fat content of your diet comes from natural sources, such as:
- Olive oil
Natural sources of fat, such as the above, will provide a balance of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fat.
Try to avoid processed foods and takeaways as the fat in these are generally either man made or highly processed. Look forward to more tips and tricks.