As low-carb dietitian Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE, who’s based in Orange County, California, points out, when you cut back on carbs, blood sugar and insulin levels generally go down, which can be a good thing for some people. “Carbs are broken down into glucose, which raises your blood sugar and prompts your pancreas to produce insulin to drive sugar into your cells,” says Spritzler. “When you’re overweight or obese, your blood sugar goes up and your pancreas sends out insulin, but your cells may not be responsive, leading your pancreas to overproduce insulin,” she says. High insulin increases hunger and prompts fat storage, she explains.
Research funded by an American company also found that some people with type 2 diabetes who followed a programme that included a low-carb eating plan were in remission after two years. Participants in the study were supported to restrict their intake of carbs, initially to less than 30g per day and then gradually increasing the amount, based on personal tolerance and health goals.
After years of being told to avoid fat and eat low-fat foods, many people find the hardest part of adopting the diet is adding back in more fat. A low-carb diet needs the fat. Fat adds taste and calories to help us feel satisfied. Get it from using butter, coconut oil, high fat cheese, olive oil, avocado oil, even beef and bacon fat. Here are some easy tips.
Natural fats and high-fat sauces: Using butter and cream for cooking can make your low-carb foods taste better and can make you feel more satisfied. Try a Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauce. If purchased pre-made, check the ingredients for starches and vegetable oils. Better yet, make it yourself. Coconut fat or olive oil are also good options. Learn more
For the sake of keeping processed/synthetic ingredients out of your diet, focus on avoiding low-carb packaged foods — like most commercial protein bars or meal replacement shakes. These may provide fat and protein, and be low in sugar or carbs, but they’re still not beneficial overall if they contain things like processed protein powders, refined oils and artificial sweeteners.
Low-carb diets may help prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In fact, almost any diet that helps you shed excess weight can reduce or even reverse risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Most weight-loss diets — not just low-carb diets — may improve blood cholesterol or blood sugar levels, at least temporarily.
For decades we’ve been told that fat is detrimental to our health. Meanwhile low-fat “diet” products, often full of sugar, have flooded supermarket shelves. This has likely been a major mistake, that coincided with the start of the obesity epidemic. While this doesn’t prove causation, it’s clear the low-fat message didn’t prevent the obesity increase, and it is possible it contributed.
At the start, do not deny yourself fat. Eat enough so that you are satisfied and you do not feel hungry. That way you will soon become what is called “fat adapted” — burning fat for fuel efficiently. You will know that you are fat adapted when you do not need to eat every few hours and you no longer feel the highs and lows (“hangry” episodes) that can accompany a high carb diet.
If you have type 1, it's important to know that the best way to keep your blood sugar levels steady is to carb count rather than following a particular diet. And there is no strong evidence that following a low-carb diet is safe or beneficial, which is why we don’t recommend this diet for people with type 1 diabetes. But some people with type 1 have reported needing less insulin and losing weight from following a low-carb diet.
While eating a low-carbohydrate diet might not be the “magic bullet” to lasting weight loss for every person, it’s very helpful for most people to cut back on added sources of sugar and processed carbs. Removing foods such as bread, cereals, sweetened drinks, processed dairy and in some cases, even whole grains or starchy veggies from your diet can result in your body releasing less insulin.
Most of us LOVE dairy products in all shapes and forms, but it’s possible that skipping or reducing them in your diet could speed up your weight loss and be beneficial for your health. This is because dairy products contain not only milk sugar (lactose), but also milk protein (casein), which stimulates insulin secretion more than many other types of protein, and can trigger overeating.
Here we’ll explain what we mean by low-carb, what the benefits are of low-carb eating when you have diabetes, and share a low-carb meal plan to help you get started if this is the diet for you. We’ll also explain how to get support to manage any potential risks, especially if you manage your diabetes with medications which put you at risk of hypos.
Use our premium meal planner tool (free trial) to access tons of weekly meal plans, complete with shopping lists. You can adapt the diet plans to your liking, skipping any meal, choosing how many people you’re cooking for, and the shopping lists adapt. You can even start a new plan from scratch (of from pre-existing ones), tailor them completely and save them.
It’s really important to first reduce your carb intake from unhealthy sources such as sugary drinks, pizzas, cakes, biscuits, chips, white bread, fruit juices and smoothies. And it is a good idea to get your limited carbs from healthy high-fibre carb foods, such as pulses, nuts, vegetables, whole fruits and whole grains, as well as unsweetened milk and yoghurt.