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.
If you treat your diabetes with insulin or any other medication that puts you at risk of hypos (low blood sugar levels), following a low-carb diet may increase this risk. Speak to your healthcare team about this so they can help you adjust your medications to reduce your risk of hypos. Your team may also support you to check your blood sugar levels more often.
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.
Flour, wheat products or other refined cereal grains, even if labelled “gluten free.” This means bread, buns, pasta, crackers, porridge, muesli. Whole grains are included here too – on a low-carb diet they are just less bad. Also potatoes (sweet potatoes too), potato chips, French fries, corn products and popped corn, rice. Do check out, however, some of the low-carb versions of these foods:
Healthy fats & oils are back in too: Eating fat does not automatically clog the blood vessels in the way that poring oil down the drain will eventually block the drain. You make your own cholesterol and lipids and are more likely to increase your levels of the more damaging Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLD), which is made in the liver when you eat a high carbohydrate diet.
Your body uses carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Complex carbohydrates (starches) are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. They're then absorbed into your bloodstream, where they're known as blood sugar (glucose). In general, natural complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly and they have less effect on blood sugar. Natural complex carbohydrates provide bulk and serve other body functions beyond fuel.
Exercise reduces appetite. It is good for general cardiovascular fitness and strength, but is a hard way to lose weight. If you find it hard to exercise, simply moving more has significant health benefits and can increase your metabolic rate. Get up and move around every half hour, walk don’t take the bus, stairs instead of lift…Get a pedometer and try to increase your steps by 10% each week.
As for if you’re dealing with health issues, you really have to defer to your doctor. For instance, if you have kidney disease, you also want to talk to your doctor about appropriate protein intake. If you have heart disease, you can still go low carb, but you may be better off opting for monounsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, and olive oil) over saturated fats (butter and red meat). Everyone’s cholesterol levels respond differently on a low-carb diet, so if yours are going up, switch to unsaturated sources of fats, Spritzler recommends. “In general, this is a diet most people can do. If you have a chronic condition, work with a doctor who understands low-carbohydrate diets to monitor you,” she adds.
However, there’s no evidence that following a low-carb diet is any more beneficial in managing diabetes than other approaches in the long term, including a healthy, balanced diet. Research suggests that the best type of diet is one that you can maintain in the long term, so it's important to talk to your healthcare professional about what you think will work for you. Another option is the Mediterranean diet, which is also linked to reducing the risk of heart diseases and stroke.