Why Low-carb Diets Aren’t The Answer
What raises blood sugar? The simple answer is carbohydrates. So why not just yank them out of your diet like weeds in your garden? Why not quash blood sugar by swearing off bread, pasta, rice, and cereal? Been there, done that. The low-carb craze is on the downswing, and that’s a good thing because over the long haul, very low carb diets simply aren’t good for you, as you’ll discover in this chapter. That doesn’t mean it’s not smart to cut back on carbs—but don’t go crazy. When low-carb diets first became popular, they seemed to be a breath of fresh air after the low-fat (and high-carb) diets that preceded them. Remember low-fat cookies, lowfat snack cakes, and low-fat everything else? With low-carb diets, suddenly people could load up on bacon and still lose weight as long as they were willing to eat hamburgers without buns and pretty much give up sandwiches and spaghetti. People were amazed at how effective these diets could be. Weight loss could happen very quickly, sometimes within days. And amazingly, it often seemed to come with added health benefits, including lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides (blood fats linked to heart attacks.) The most extreme kind of low-carb diet was pioneered by the late Robert Atkins, M.D., whose first book, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, came out in 1972. It promised quick and long-lasting weight loss and prevention of chronic disease, all while allowing high-fat steak and ice cream. Since then, other, more moderate low-carb diets have allowed small amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods, but they still cut out most grains as well as starchy vegetables and even fruit. The Downsides of These Diets The Atkins diet and the many other low-carb diets that followed in its footsteps have turned out to be less effect Continue reading >>
Low Carb Vs. High Carb Ii – My Diabetes Diet Battle Continued
Tripling my carbs --> 5 fewer hours in-range per day, 64% more insulin (!), & more lessons learned. I’ve discovered a therapy that: Keeps my blood sugar in range ~75-95% of the time with a low risk of hypoglycemia; Uses ~30-65% less insulin; Cuts my odds of taking the wrong dose of insulin and experiencing severe hypoglycemia; Requires less time spent on diabetes tasks; Eliminates lots of diabetes anxiety, frustration, and feelings of failure; Keeps my blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight in a healthy range; Counters what I was told at diagnosis, what the average diabetes diet looks like, and what the food environment encourages me to eat. And it’s only three words: eat fewer carbohydrates. I’ve been doing this for about six years now, and my Low Carb vs. High Carb article last fall showed some of these takeaways in a 24-day self-tracking experiment. Doubling my carb intake led to the same average blood sugar, but four times as much hypoglycemia, 34% more insulin, and a lot more diabetes work and feelings of failure. Since then, I’ve been dying to repeat the same experiment, but with two key tweaks: (i) eating even lower carb (to get more separation between the two phases); and (ii) dosing insulin slightly less aggressively during the high-carb phase (to cut the hypoglycemia). This article documents what happened after I tripled my carb intake, comparing six days of ~106 grams per day (“low carb”) to six days of ~331 g per day (“high carb”), or 15% vs. 50% of my daily calories from carbohydrate. For comparison, last fall I roughly doubled my daily carbs: 12 days of 146 g per day vs. 12 days of 313 g per day (21% vs. 43% of daily calories). The topline results were similar to version one, but even more in favor of low carb this time: On low carb, I spe Continue reading >>
Is Your Fasting Blood Glucose Higher On Low Carb Or Keto? Five Things To Know
This past spring, after 18 months of great success on the keto diet, I tested my fasting blood sugar on my home glucose monitor for the first time in many months. The result shocked me. I had purchased the device, which also tests ketones, when I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes in the fall of 2015. As I embarked on low-carb keto eating, I tested my blood regularly. Soon my fasting blood sugar was once again in the healthy range. I was in optimal ketosis day after day. Not only that, I lost 10 lbs (5 kg) and felt fantastic — full of energy with no hunger or cravings. Before long I could predict the meter’s results based on what I was eating or doing. I put the meter away and got on with my happy, healthy keto life. When my doctor ordered some lab tests this spring, I brought the meter out again. While I had no health complaints, excellent blood pressure and stable weight, she wanted to see how my cholesterol, lipids, HbA1c, and fasting glucose were doing on my keto diet — and I was curious, too. To check the accuracy of my meter against the lab results, on the morning of the test I sat in my car outside the clinic at 7:30 am, and pricked my finger. I was expecting to see a lovely fasting blood glucose (FBG) of 4.7 or 4.8 mmol/l (85 mg/dl). It was 5.8! (103 mg/dl). What? I bailed on the tests and drove home — I didn’t want my doctor warning me I was pre-diabetic again when I had no explanation for that higher result. The next morning I tested again: 5.9! (104). Huh??? For the next two weeks I tested every morning. No matter what I did, my FBG would be in 5.7 to 6.0 (102 to 106 mg/dl), the pre-diabetic range again. One morning after a restless sleep it was even 6.2 mmol/l (113 mg/dl). But my ketones were still reading an optimal 1.5-2.5 mmol/l. I was still burnin Continue reading >>
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Slow Carbs, Not Low Carbs: The Truth About Low-carb Diets
The low-carb frenzy hit its zenith in the early 2000’s and has since ebbed and flowed in popularity. I’ve seen patients get impressive results doing very low-carb diets, but eventually many become burned out and regain the weight as the novelty of eating bacon and other formerly forbidden foods becomes monotonous. Traditional thinking suggests carbohydrates are bad for you. I have something surprising to say that might go against everything you’ve heard: Carbs are the single most important thing you can eat for health and weight loss. In fact, I often say my plan is a high-carb diet. But wait, you say, don’t carbs contribute to insulin resistance, heart disease, and other health concerns? Some do, but the truth is more complicated. You see, “carbohydrates” encompasses a huge category. A hot fudge sundae and cauliflower both fall into the “carbs” category, yet they are entirely different foods. In fact, almost all plant foods fall into the carbs category. These are what I refer to as slow carbs, which are low-glycemic and don’t spike your blood sugar or insulin. These slow carbs come loaded with nutrients, fiber, and amazing molecules called phytochemicals. When you eat a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables teeming with phytonutrients — carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols – they help improve nearly all health problems, including dementia, diabesity, and aging. Ideally, about 75% of your carb intake should come from non-starchy veggies plus low-glycemic fruits. By volume, most of your plate should be carbs. Note I said volume, not calories. Many plant-based carbs actually have very few calories. Why All Carbs Are Not Created Equally Carbs are necessary for long-term health and brain function. But not the doughnuts, breads, bagels, and swee Continue reading >>
Top 3 Diabetes Myths, Busted: Fruit, Starchy Vegetables, And Blood Glucose
Almost 10 percent of Americans have diabetes and that number is growing. Unfortunately, the myths surrounding diabetes are as widespread as the disorder itself. Here we debunk the most common diabetes myths. For the past 50 years, people diagnosed with all forms of diabetes have been advised to eat low-carb diets high in fat and protein, and to avoid eating high-carbohydrate foods like fruits, potatoes, squash, corn, beans, lentils, and whole grains. Despite this popular opinion, more than 85 years of scientific research clearly demonstrates that a low-fat, plant-based whole foods diet is the single most effective dietary approach for managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This means that a low-fat diet—not a low-carb diet—has been shown across the board to minimize oral medication and insulin use, stabilize blood glucose, and dramatically reduce long-term disease risk in people with diabetes. Myth #1: You Develop Type 2 Diabetes From Eating Too Much Sugar Eating sweets is not a direct cause of type 2 diabetes. People develop type 2 diabetes over time by slowly developing a resistance to insulin, the hormone that escorts glucose out of your blood and into tissues like your muscle and liver. I like to think of type 2 diabetes as a very advanced form of insulin resistance in which glucose remains trapped in your blood because your body cannot use insulin properly. In this way, elevated blood glucose is a symptom of diabetes, and NOT the root cause. The real cause of insulin resistance is dietary fat. We discussed it at length in this article. People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are told to eat foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein simply because they don’t create an immediate need for insulin. But in the hours and days after a meal hi Continue reading >>
Low Carb Vs. High Carb - My Surprising 24-day Diabetes Diet Battle
Twitter summary: What I learned from doubling my carb intake: the same average blood sugar, but four times as much hypoglycemia, more work, stress, & danger. As a teenager, I ate a high carb diet that included lots of Goldfish crackers, white sandwich bread, pasta, and white potatoes. It was tasty, but it put my blood sugars on a wild roller coaster every single day. Things turned around in college when I learned about nutrition, got on CGM, and spent time with health conscious friends. I soon realized that eating less than 30 grams of carbs at one time was a complete gamechanger. I’ve stuck with that approach ever since. But is this lower carb method actually better for my blood sugars, or have I just been fooling myself? To find out, I took on a somewhat terrifying self-tracking experiment: 12 days of my usual, lower-carb diet, which averaged 146 grams of carbs per day (21% of daily calories). My carbs were primarily from nuts, seeds, vegetables, and a bit of fruit. 12 days of a higher-carb, high whole-grain diet, which averaged 313 grams of carbs per day (43% of my daily calories). My sources of carbs were NOT junk food: plain oatmeal, whole wheat bread, quinoa, wild rice, and fruit. Neither of these was unrealistic. My lower-carb diet was nowhere near Atkins level (20 grams per day), and the higher-carb diet was consistent with the “average” 45% carb diet in people with diabetes (according to ADA). Even though this was a one-person (n=1) experiment, I wanted to be as scientific and fair as possible: eating whole, unprocessed foods in both periods; counting and tracking every single gram of carbohydrate (LoseIt! app); wearing CGM 24/7 and downloading the glucose data to document what happened (Dexcom G5 and Clarity); taking insulin before meals (5-15 minutes pr Continue reading >>
12 Simple Tips To Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
Blood sugar spikes occur when your blood sugar rises and then falls sharply after you eat. In the short term, they can cause lethargy and hunger. Over time, your body may not be able to lower blood sugar effectively, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a rising health problem. In fact, 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 25% of them don't even know they have it (1). Blood sugar spikes can also cause your blood vessels to harden and narrow, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. This article looks at 12 simple things you can do to prevent blood sugar spikes. Carbohydrates (carbs) are what cause blood sugar to rise. When you eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars. Those sugars then enter the bloodstream. As your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which prompts your cells to absorb sugar from the blood. This causes your blood sugar levels to drop. Many studies have shown that consuming a low-carb diet can help prevent blood sugar spikes (2, 3, 4, 5). Low-carb diets also have the added benefit of aiding weight loss, which can also reduce blood sugar spikes (6, 7, 8, 9). There are lots of ways to reduce your carb intake, including counting carbs. Here's a guide on how to do it. A low-carb diet can help prevent blood sugar spikes and aid weight loss. Counting carbs can also help. Refined carbs, otherwise known as processed carbs, are sugars or refined grains. Some common sources of refined carbs are table sugar, white bread, white rice, soda, candy, breakfast cereals and desserts. Refined carbs have been stripped of almost all nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Refined carbs are said to have a high glycemic index because they are very easily and quickly digested by the body. This leads to blood sugar Continue reading >>
10 Foods That Lower Blood Sugars In Diabetics
While a low carb diet appears to be useful on the whole, there are also many foods shown to help. Either by lowering blood sugars and/or improving insulin sensitivity. This articles looks at 10 of the best foods and supplements for lowering blood sugars, based on current research. Just know they should never be used in place of your diabetes medication, but rather alongside. 1. Resistant Starch Lowers Sugars After Meals Starches are long chains of glucose (sugar) found in oats, grains, bananas, potatoes and various other foods. Some varieties pass through digestion unchanged and are not absorbed as sugar into the blood. These are known as resistant starch. Many studies show resistant starch can greatly improve insulin sensitivity. That is, how well the body can move sugar out of the blood and into cells for energy. This is why it’s so useful for lowering blood sugar levels after meals (1, 2). The effect is so great that having resistant starch at lunch will reduce blood sugar spikes at dinner, known as the “second meal effect” (3). Problem is many foods high in resistant starch, such as potatoes, are also high in digestible carbs that can spike blood sugar. Therefore resistant starch in supplement form – without the extra carbs – is recommended. Summary: Supplemental resistant starch is a fantastic option for those struggling to control sugars or have hit a plateau. 2. Ceylon Cinnamon Several cinnamon compounds appear to prevent the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, minimising blood sugar spikes. It may also dramatically improve insulin sensitivity (4, 5). In a recent clinical trial, 25 poorly-controlled type 2 diabetics received either 1 gram per day of cinnamon or placebo (dummy supplement) for 12 weeks. Fasting blood sugar levels in the cinnamon gro Continue reading >>
Dear Mark: Does Eating A Low Carb Diet Cause Insulin Resistance?
157 Comments Despite all the success you might have had with the Primal way of life, doubts can still nag at you. Maybe it’s something you read, or something someone said to you, or a disapproving glance or offhand comment from a person you otherwise respect, but it’s pretty common when you’re doing something, like giving up grains, avoiding processed food, or eating animal fat, that challenges deeply-and-widely held beliefs about health and wellness. It doesn’t really even matter that you’re losing weight or seem to be thriving; you may still have questions. That’s healthy and smart, and it’s totally natural. A question I’ve been getting of late is the effect of reducing carb intake on insulin sensitivity. It’s often bandied about that going low carb is good for folks with insulin resistance, but it’s also said that low carb can worsen insulin resistance. Are both true and, if so, how do they all jibe together? That’s what the reader was wondering with this week’s question: Hi Mark, I’ve been Primal for a few months now and love it. Lowering my carbs and upping my animal fat helped me lose weight and gain tons of energy (not too shabby for a middle-aged guy!). However, I’m a little worried. I’ve heard that low carb diets can increase insulin resistance. Even though I’ve done well and feel great, should I be worried about insulin resistance? Do I need to increase my carb intake? I always thought low carb Primal was supposed to improve insulin function. Vince Going Primal usually does improve insulin sensitivity, both directly and in a roundabout way. It improves directly because you lose weight, you reduce your intake of inflammatory foods, you lower systemic inflammation (by getting some sun, smart exercise, omega-3s, and reducing or dea Continue reading >>
Will Low-carb Diets Cause Blood Sugar Levels To Drop?
Video of the Day If you're accustomed to eating a very high-carb diet and suddenly switch to a very low-carb diet, you could experience rather dramatic drops in your blood sugar during the first few days or weeks of your transition. This low blood sugar can cause notably uncomfortable side effects and intense cravings. Carbs and Blood Sugar Your body converts consumed carbohydrates into glucose, a type of sugar. When the glucose enters your bloodstream, it leads to an increase in your blood sugar level. The pancreas produces insulin in response to spikes in blood sugar, which helps your body store the sugar for energy. This insulin release subsides when your cells absorb the sugar and your levels stabilize. In a healthy body, the surge of blood sugar and insulin is relatively moderate and keeps you evenly motoring through your day. When you eat lots of carbohydrates, your body's blood sugar remains consistently high and your system constantly pumps out insulin. This chronic elevation of blood sugar and release of insulin causes inflammation, an increase in fat storage and an inability to burn stored fat. Chronically high blood sugar levels increase your risk of disease, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. You crave carbohydrates regularly for energy, because your body isn't efficient at using stored fat for fuel. How a Low-Carb Diet Impacts Blood Sugar If you regularly consume a large amount of carbohydrates, especially refined ones like white bread and soda, you may experience a notable drop in blood sugar when you drastically reduce your carb intake. In the first week of carb reduction, your body will seek to maintain your high sugar intake. You'll crave carbohydrates and may even feel weak because your body hasn't yet become efficient at burning fat for fuel Continue reading >>
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Why Do My Blood Sugars Rise After A High Protein Meal?
Complex issues often require more detail than you can pack into a Facebook post. One such area of confusion and controversy is gluconeogenesis and the impact of protein on blood sugar and ketosis. Some common questions that I see floating around the interwebs include: If you are managing diabetes, should you avoid protein because it can convert to glucose and “kick you out of ketosis”? If you’ve dropped the carbs and protein to manage your blood sugars, should you eat “fat to satiety” or continue to add more fats until you achieve “optimal ketosis” (i.e. blood ketone levels between 1.5 and 3.0mmol/L)? Then, if adding fat doesn’t get you into the “optimal ketosis zone”, do you need exogenous ketones to get your ketones up so you can start to lose weight? This article explores: the reason that some people may see an increase in their blood sugars and a decrease in their ketones after a high protein meal, what it means for their health, and what they can do to optimise the metabolic health. You’re probably aware that protein can be converted to glucose via a process in the body called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the process of converting another substrate (e.g. protein or fat) to glucose. Gluco = glucose Neo = new Genesis = creation Gluconeogenesis = new glucose creation As shown in the table below, all but two of the amino acids (i.e. the building blocks of protein) can be converted to glucose. Five others can be converted to either glucose or ketones depending on the body’s requirements at the time. Once your body has used up the protein, it needs to build and repair muscle and make neurotransmitters, etc. any “excess protein” can be used to refill the small protein stores in the blood stream and replenish glycogen stores in the liv Continue reading >>
Not All Carbs Are Bad; Spikes In Blood Sugar Can Be
I’m here to clear up a misconception: not all carbs are bad and Atkins isn’t about avoiding all carbs. Vegetables contain carbs. Fruits contain varying amounts of carbs. Whole grains contain carbs. It isn’t necessarily carbs that wreak havoc on your waistline and your health, as long as you watch the quality and quantity of carbs that you consume and their potential impact on your blood sugar. It’s the carbs that convert to spikes in blood sugar in your body that you should watch out for. No matter where the sugar comes from, any excess sugar in your blood stream that isn’t used as energy is stored as fat. Whether the sugar comes from candy or a bagel, it has the same effect on your body’s blood sugar. And waistline. And health. While some people process the sugar in carbs better than others, if you have insulin resistance, the effect is even more profound. The sugar you consume and the carbs that convert to sugar can affect your blood sugar and are likely to be stored as fat, leading to a host of health conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, type-2 diabetes and heart disease. It’s time to stop thinking of sugar as just that white stuff sitting in your sugar bowl or the stuff that makes that candy, cookies, donuts and sugary cereals so sweet. Our bodies are built to only circulate the equivalent of only two teaspoons of sugar but eating a bagel has the same effect on your blood sugar as eating seven teaspoons of sugar and a cup of white rice has the same effect on your blood sugar as eating more than eleven teaspoons of sugar. Meanwhile a ½ cup of broccoli has the same effect as a quarter teaspoon of sugar, and a ½ avocado has the same effect as less than a quarter teaspoon of sugar. You can enjoy a hearty breakfast with scrambled Continue reading >>
Using Low Carb Diet And Sugar Is Still High, How Do I Get It Lower?
Diabetes Forum The Global Diabetes Community Find support, ask questions and share your experiences. Join the community Using low carb diet and sugar is still high, how do I get it lower? I have been diabetic type 2 for 15 years. Im now 48. I have been on a very low carb diet for the past 2 months. Ive been on insulin (lantus) for 2 years, I also take glyclazide and metformin. My sugar levels are only stabalized from the hours of 3pm to 6pm. Otherwise im always high. I do not eat after dinner till brekky most days. On the occasion I might have a protein snack, like nuts or cheese. When I exercise my sugar level rises. I have just upped my level of insulin and there has been no change. Im at my wits end. I don't know where im going wrong. I have spoken to my doc about this. He has said a side effect of insulin is weight gain, just do more exercise. Well its not working, my weight is rising.. Im barely eating any carbs. I eat lots of veggies and meat, I snack on nuts, seeds. The only fruit I eat are berries, the occasional apple. Hi and welcome to the forum. I'm tagging @daisy1 so that she can provide you with the standard information for newcomers. You say you are low carb - can you give us an idea of your intake for an average day so that we can maybe help you troubleshoot your diet? Have you tried using myfitnesspal or chono-meter to track you intake so that you can be sure you're sticking to the correct calorie limit for weight loss? You may find this nutritional calculator helpful: Sorry I can't help you with the insulin side of things, but hopefully someone else can. If you take a look around the low carb diet forum you may pick up some useful information also. Here is the information we give to new members and I hope you will find it helpful. Ask as many questions Continue reading >>
How Do Low-carb Diets Affect Blood Glucose Levels?
Low-carb diets are all about balancing blood sugar (blood glucose) levels. Beyond weight loss, we eat low-carb diets to keep our blood sugar normal and stable. To fully understand the connection, it's helpful to first familiarize yourself with how the body processes blood sugar in a normal state and even explore how that changes when there's a problem, such as in diabetics. What Do Carbohydrates Have to Do With Blood Glucose? Carbohydrates have everything to with blood glucose. All foods with carbohydrate -- whether rice, jelly beans, or watermelon -- break down to simple sugars in our bodies turning into glucose through metabolic processes. This process is what causes our blood glucose to rise. The carbohydrate in most starchy foods (potatoes, bread) is simply a collection of long chains of glucose, which break down quickly and raise blood sugar . What Do Our Bodies Do When Blood Sugar is High? When our blood sugar goes up, our body responds by secreting insulin to stabilize it. The sugar is then taken out of the blood and converted into fat; insulin's primary function is facilitating the storage of extra sugar in the blood as fat. Diabetics are unable to balance blood sugar when the process of converting food to energy takes place. When sugar levels are high, the ability of cells in the pancreas to make insulin goes down. The pancreas overcompensates for this lack of insulin and insulin levels stay high, as does blood sugar. Over time, the pancreas is permanently damaged and other bodily functions are affected such as hardened blood vessels, among other ailments. What are the Problems with Blood Sugar Going Up? However, for many people, this metabolic process works fine. Sometimes, though, people reach a point in their lives when it goes awry (or it doesn't work well Continue reading >>
Eat Carbs Last To Reduce After-meal Blood Sugar Spikes?
Amazing but apparently true: Eating carbohydrates AFTER some protein, fat, or possibly fiber causes much lower after-meal blood sugar spikes than eating the carbs first. Two small new studies from Cornell University in New York and the University of Pisa in Italy, respectively, showed the same thing. At Cornell, two groups of people with Type 2 diabetes ate the same meal: some bread, fruit juice, meat, and green salad. One group started with the bread and juice; the other with the meat and salad. A third group ate everything together as a sandwich. At the beginning of the meal, and every 30 minutes thereafter for three hours, subjects had their glucose and insulin levels checked. The group that started with the bread had after-meal glucose spikes about 50% higher than the group that started with protein and vegetables. Those who ate everything together as a sandwich had about a 40% higher glucose spike than those who started with the protein and vegetables. All three groups repeated the meals in different orders after a week and again a week later, said lead researcher Alpana Shukla, MD. In all groups, eating protein first led to much smaller glucose spikes, “comparable to what we see with diabetes medication.” The Pisa study was longer-term and done “free-range,” not in a lab. Each group of people with Type 2 diabetes was given a meal plan and allowed to choose the specific foods they wanted, as long as the foods added up to the same number of calories. One group was told to eat their protein or fat food first, the other to eat their carbs first. After four months, the group that had been eating carbs last had an average HbA1c level (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2–3 months) about 0.3% lower than the group that ate carbs first. The carbs-last Continue reading >>