I have T2D and IBS and my blood sugar readings were degrading. I was going to have to take a second daily dose of Metformin and the first one already played havoc with the IBS. I started a low-carb diet because my T1D husband had been inspired by a podcast by Sam Harris with scientist Gary Taubes, author Why We Get Fat, Good Calories, Bad Calories and the Case Against Sugar, and started dumping the majority of his carbs a month previous. He had cut his insulin use literally in half and lost 15 pounds. He was feeling better and visibly had more energy. I was resistant to the diet and even the idea of it. I have been on Atkins and Sugar Busters and while I did fine on Sugar Busters back in the day, Atkins was too fat-based and that was the opposite of how I had been raised to think about dieting. I knew that the Diabetic diet given to me by the Diabetic Educator had never been enough and I get carby binge cravings even though it offers plenty of carbs and calories. I also knew that it’s a cycle for me-eat more carbs, want more carbs, and never really feel satisfied. On top of that, when my stomach hurts I seek carbs, and it hurts quite often. I did Weight Watchers and the Diabetic diets because they let me “cheat” and have my carbs while dieting. To be fair, just the act of tracking my food improved my outcome on either. But I got mad at WW when they upped the points for carbs on their system and made it so I couldn’t eat cake for lunch if I wanted to. Not that I made a practice of it, but it was principle of the thing. Long story short, I was pretty doubtful that I would be very successful on Atkins or Keto. To humor my husband I began a low-carb diet that started out as Atkins 20 or Keto and has morphed to more of an Atkins 30-40 for my personal comfort while using Keto, Atkins, and Paleo recipes and ultimately cutting all gluten. That means 30-40 net carbs per day, rather than per meal and a lot of natural non-processed foods. The first week was quite terrible. But even through the Keto Flu I recognized that my IBS symptoms felt better. I started to suspect that if I felt that bad just from quitting carbs that maybe there was more to the idea of sugar addiction than I wanted to believe. I’m six weeks in now and I’m losing a steady pound a week plus my sugars have dropped radically. A pound a week might not sound like much but it’s more than I’ve lost in 10 years. I have PCOS and insulin resistance so I’ve had a fasting blood sugar that ranged from 109-113 since my early twenties. It was flying high around 160-170 before the diet, now I’m reading between 119-139. Even more than that, my IBS symptoms stabilized. I’ve been tracking all my food using the free Atkins meal tracker so I started trying to narrow the foods that caused flare ups. I’m lactose intolerant but I knew that and used lactose free products or Lactaid for the cream based dishes. I had my gall bladder removed and so have always put down my symptoms to an inability to process dairy and fats. Big surprise to find that a higher fat, higher dairy diet was making my symptoms disappear. Gluten is the only common factor so far. Celiac? Just a food sensitivity? I don’t know, but that will be the next investigation. It is an investigation that I would never have thought to start on the Diabetic diet. Like the author, I’m very fond of cake and carbs. Luckily there are low-carb, no-gluten recipes for muffins and cakes. They aren’t exactly the same and some are definitely better than others, but they are out there. Plus, there is nothing wrong with having true birthday cake once a year if that is really what you need and if you don’t have a reason to avoid it, like binge symptoms or IBS flare ups. My husband let himself have a piece of cheesecake the other day and felt physically awful for two day after, plus he had to use a lot of insulin to counter the spike. It’s a pretty good deterrent. Just a side note but I had other symptoms of inflammation as well. My ankles were swelling to golf ball size and painful, it was difficult for me to stand and walk comfortably when this happened. While they haven’t stopped completely, the discomfort has gone way down as has the swelling and frequency. What’s my point? I’m not a salesman for a particular diet. Everyone is different and some people might respond very well to Keto and/or Atkins while others may not need anything that extreme. I’m not knocking the Diabetic diet. My dad lost 150 pounds 38 years ago on a very low calorie/low carb Diabetic diet that gradually increased and he has kept the weight off all this time and kept his blood sugar steady with medication, but has not had to go to insulin even at age 84. Also, he was a smoker, a diabetic, had hemochromatosis and was over 300 pounds with an apple body shape. He has had some fall out from this-he didn’t stop the smoking until a heart attack 20 years ago and that didn’t help. But he has made it to 84 and when he walked into his doctor’s office 40 years ago I’m guessing the doctor wouldn’t have put any money on that survival rate. Unfortunately, it looks like I need the lower carb version and will continue to need it to manage my symptoms. I didn’t want it, that’s for sure. But Diabetics are locked in a death struggle with Diabetes and it won’t give up just because we are tired or want our sugar. So for me, it has to be Very Low Carb for Life. Others may find they need this too and discouraging them from trying it is not doing them any favors. Hopefully I will continue to find this sustainable. I just need to keep reminding myself that I am more fond of my feet and my vision than my birthday cake.
Great article! Sustainability is key and Keto diet is extremely restrictive compared to others. Many of the comments I see don’t understand the importance of many years of research before stating something has a “significant difference” than the recommendations that are already in place. Also, understanding the pro/carb/fat balance in each meal instead of focusing on just carbohydrates. We have practiced the same modified Mediterranean diet at my practice where someone can enjoy life, eat complex carbohydrates and years later they are still successful and hundreds of pounds have been lost for good 🙂 Thank you for the reminder (and the comparison of Adkins supported research).
A keto diet was/ is not just used for diabetics. It is a very useful tool for epilepsy. It is extremely successful in reducing the number of seizures per day, mainly in children but also in adults. I am sure that followers of the epilepsy diet, which has been used since the 1920s have not all starved to death. Iwould also think that the followers of this diet are also motivated to stay on it, not eat a slice of birthday cake and keep all thier brain cells.
I, too, am finding the keto diet to be beneficial. My weight is moving down. My recent A1c was 5.7. I am consistently below 90 each morning when I check my blood. I am learning to adapt my cooking to the needs of maintaining this way of eating. I have incorporated walking because now I FEEL like it. I don’t feel deprived. I feel empowered. No medications for diabetes!
Bueno NB, de Melo ISV, de Oliveira SL, da Rocha Ataide T; “Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” (2013) British Journal of Nutrition 110(7): 1178-1187. Accessed 4/23/2018 https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/6FD9F975BAFF1D46F84C8BA9CE860783/S0007114513000548a.pdf/verylowcarbohydrate_ketogenic_diet_v_lowfat_diet_for_longterm_weight_loss_a_metaanalysis_of_randomised_controlled_trials.pdf
The ketogenic diet seems straightforward. Unlike a typical low-calorie diet, however, a high-fat diet requires careful monitoring. In fact, you may start the diet in a hospital. Your doctor needs to monitor both blood glucose and ketone levels to make sure that the diet isn’t causing any adverse effects. Once your body adjusts to the diet, you may still need to see your doctor once or twice a month for testing and medication adjustments.
Sure, nuts aren’t known for being low in calories, but they have an array of other properties—namely a high protein and fiber content—that makes them ideal for weight loss. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, Circulation, found that consuming 1.5 ounces of almonds daily (as opposed to a carb-dense muffin) along with a heart-healthy diet, helped to improve cholesterol and lipid profiles among the research participants. The study also found that eating almonds reduces belly fat, too.
Though we singled out quinoa above, whole grains in general (we’re talking cereal, rice, pasta, and more) are conducive to weight loss, especially when they’re used in place of refined—white—grains. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that substituting whole grains for refined grains in the diet increases calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. Unlike refined grains, whole grains are packed with satiating, heart-healthy fiber.
Created in 2003 by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, this low-carb diet features three phases. The first phase is the most restrictive, limiting carbs such as potatoes and rice. Each subsequent phase becomes more lenient, and the diet emphasizes lean protein, unsaturated fats, and low-glycemic carbs such as nonstarchy vegetables. South Beach promotes lasting lifestyle changes, according to the Mayo Clinic. (21)
In a second study,2 a Harvard-led research team evaluated the benefit of a ketogenic diet in both children and adults with type 1 diabetes despite concerns about a possible negative effect on growth and development in children following such a restricted diet. These researchers report "exceptional" glucose control with little adverse effects. However, the participants were recruited from a closed Facebook group, TypeOneGrit, for people who follow a diet and diabetes program based on the recommendations in the Diabetes Solution,3 a book by Richard K Bernstein, MD, who devised this program to manage his own type 1 diabetes.
Hi Maya. I LOVE your site!! Interesting, informative with fab recipes and ideas. Hubby and I have just started eating low carb and I have to say, we are not finding it too difficult and I already feel sooo much better!! I find the hardest part is choosing low carb veg, I feel as if we are not eating enough. Any suggestions on how to get more veggies into our diet?
Financial disclosures: There were no conflicts of interest reported except for Dr Bernstein who has received royalties for books on the management of diabetes (which were used by members of the online social media group surveyed in this study). Dr. Hallberg who holds stock options and receives research support from Virta Health, and consulting fees from Atkins. Dr. Rhodes is the site principal investigator in clinical trials for pediatric type 2 diabetes that are sponsored by Merck and AstraZeneca. Dr. Westman has an ownership interest in companies using low-carbohydrate principles, and he receives royalties for books related to low-carbohydrate diets. Dr. Ludwig has received royalties from books on nutrition and obesity; and Dr. Galati is author of Eating Yourself Sick: How to stop obesity, fatty liver, and diabetes from killing you and your family (2018).
While body weight decreased significantly (-8.5 kg) in these 21 diabetic participants, the mean weight loss was less compared with what we observed in the LCKD participants of an earlier trial (-12.0 kg) . Given that the diabetic participants had a higher baseline mean weight than the LCKD participants of our previous trial (131 kg vs. 97 kg), this translates into an even more dramatic disparity in percent change in body weight (-6.6% vs. -12.9%). This lesser weight loss might result from several factors. First, in the current study, most of the participants were taking insulin and/or oral hypoglycemic agents that are known to induce weight gain[20,21] Second, these same agents, particularly insulin, inhibit ketosis, which is strived for in the earliest phases of the LCKD; while it remains unclear whether ketones actually play a role in weight loss on the LCKD, previous research in non-diabetic patients has shown a positive correlation between level of ketonuria and weight loss success . Lastly, compared with our previous study the participants in the current study had more comorbid illness, lower socioeconomic status, and a shorter duration of follow-up (16 weeks versus 24 weeks), all of which are associated with reduced success on any weight loss program .
Carbohydrate Restriction. To help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, doctors will typically prescribe a diet that mostly consists of low glycemic index foods.  However, according to the research, restricting overall carb intake to the point of following a keto diet may be the best way to improve the many biomarkers relevant to diabetes.  In fact, this dietary strategy has been proven to be helpful for the management of type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes.
Hi, I’m still a bit skeptical, I have seen some of my friends do the keto diet, and have had good results. Though I am still not sure about the idea of the fats being eaten. They say they eat meat with the fat and must do so, is this correct? Also isn’t this not good for the body especially for the kidneys? Second, can a diabetic do this diet? There are many questions running through my head.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (LCKD) in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes over 16 weeks. Specifically, we wanted to learn the diet's effects on glycemia and diabetes medication use in outpatients who prepared (or bought) their own meals. In a previous article, we reported the results observed in 7 individuals ; this report includes data from those 7 individuals along with data from additional participants enrolled subsequently.
Coffee jumpstarts your metabolism, making the non-decaf stuff a worthy weight loss ally. According to a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee was 16 percent higher than that of those who drank decaf. In addition to caffeinating your coffee, it’s also crucial to keep it black and avoid adding any unhealthy creamers and artificial sweeteners, both of which are enemies of weight loss.
Nuts. It’s very easy to eat until the nuts are gone, regardless of how full you are. A tip: According to science, salted nuts are harder to stop eating than unsalted nuts. Salted nuts tempt you to more overeating. Good to know. Another tip: Avoid bringing the entire bag to the couch, preferably choose a small bowl instead. I often eat all the nuts in front of me, whether I’m hungry or not.
Thank you SO much for this! My husband approached me about the Mediterranean diet being good for depression and suggested I give it a try. But I already knew this was not the best term to describe what I needed, even before reading your article on the subject. However, I did have an idea of what they meant and I have struggled to find recipes that fit the bill. Too many well-meaning people have made it more “healthful” by cutting back on the fat. ANYWAY . . . This little meal plan is going to be immensely helpful to me and I am poking all around the site and your social media. Thank you for sharing!
When it comes to managing diabetes, it is reasonable that reducing carbohydrate intake can help to lower and stabilize blood glucose levels. The positive effects of the ketogenic diet on diabetes control have been demonstrated in animal models, as well as in humans. We recently reported on several studies that demonstrated substantial metabolic benefits.
Slice a 6-inch French baguette roll (3-inch diameter) in half lengthwise. Sprinkle the halves with 1/3 cup 33% reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese and bake in toaster oven at 250 degrees for four to six minutes, until cheese is just beginning to melt. Meanwhile, slice two large red tomatoes in 1/2-inch slices. Remove baguette from toaster oven, sprinkle with a little dried basil and dried oregano if desired. Top with tomato slices. For dessert, serve one frozen strawberry milk Popsicle left over from Monday's dinner (8 ounces fat-free milk mixed with 1 tablespoon strawberry drink mix, then frozen).
Benefits It packs lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers, like prostate and breast. Other components in tomatoes may help reduce the risk of blood clots, thereby protecting against cardiovascular disease, according to a review published in December 2013 in the journal Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. (9,10)
Obviously, if you could keep the weight off, it may help in preventing diabetes. There are many risk factors for diabetes, but the Diabetes Prevention Program in 2002 followed 1,079 people with prediabetes. This groundbreaking study showed that 58% were able to prevent the progression of developing diabetes through diet and exercise. Want to know what the great news is? They didn’t have to eat 20 carbohydrates per day to achieve this!
That doesn’t mean keto causes diabetes; it’s amazing for most diabetics. However, if your cells are great at processing fat, but suck at processing glucose or carbohydrates, you won’t be able to run at full power, and parts of your body that prefer glucose over fat — like the glial cells in your brain that handle immune function and synaptic pruning — don’t work as well over time.
What the diet advocate says: ‘FODMAPS are either absorbed slowly from the small intestine or not absorbed at all,’ says Dr Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and the brains behind the low-FODMAP diet. ‘When the FODMAPs move into the bowel, where they are fermented by bacteria, this produces gas and can also cause water to move into the bowel. This stretches the bowel wall, which stimulates the gut.’
The fact is, the stress that you will bring on yourself from constantly restricting every single thing you put in your mouth is far more detrimental to your health. Remember, moderation is the key! You can count your carbohydrates and follow a sensible low carbohydrate diet to control your blood glucose and your weight. Exercise will always be the key component to add that contributes to added weight loss.
It is important to note that the research did not analyze whether the diet employed causes obesity, if given long term. The mechanism behind the whole process was undetermined; therefore, the existence of a shared physiological response between low carb and regular carb high fat diets that cause insulin resistance in the liver requires further exploration.
Alison Moodie is a health reporter based in Los Angeles. She has written for numerous outlets including Newsweek, Agence France-Presse, The Daily Mail and HuffPost. For years she covered sustainable business for The Guardian. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she majored in TV news. When she's not working she's doting on her two kids and whipping up Bulletproof-inspired dishes in her kitchen.