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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
High Blood Sugar In Ketogenic Dieters! Plus A Special Surprise (hint: Genotypes And Metabolism)!
A while ago Michael and I were discussing future article topics. There are truly a plethora of avenues to go down in this area of research and there is no lack of things to research and comment on. But even though I have a couple of pretty cool MCT articles sitting around on my desk, I want an interesting topic. I want something new. Something challenging. Besides, everyone is drinking the MCT koolaid these days. It’s become passe. (Also, it upsets my stomach and I have a personal vendetta against it. So there.) What’s new? There has to be something new! Michael pointed me to one of his old articles on physiological insulin resistance as an idea. I brushed it off at first. Dismissed it as a quirk. But then I thought about it. WHY does blood glucose rise in response to a low carb diet? It truly is an interesting question. What does it say about low carb diets if they induce an almost diabetic effect on circulating glucose? Thus my research began. This short abstract confirmed that it is normal for people on low carb diets to experience a rise in blood glucose levels. Because it’s a non-open journal (shame!), there’s a one-sentence explanation given: A decrease in first-phase insulin secretion may partially contribute to the short-term LC/HFD-induced increase in postprandial plasma glucose levels. First phase insulin secretion? There’s a first phase? So… There’s more than one phase to insulin secretion? I had no idea. Call me ignorant but I had no idea until this point that there was more than one phase to insulin secretion. This article delves deeper into the signaling involved in (what I learned is called) biphasic insulin secretion. The first phase of insulin secretion lasts approximately 10 minutes, and the second phase of insulin secretion picks up afte Continue reading >>
Low Carb For Diabetes
To celebrate World Diabetes Day, this is a guest post “Low Carb For Diabetes”, from an eminent Low Carb Diabetes Educator, Kelley Pounds RN. Kelley is a registered nurse, certified diabetes educator and certified insulin pump trainer that conducts a very successful diabetes education program in her community, specifically working with patients that have been unable to achieve their blood glucose and A1c goals with standard advice (Type 1 and Type 2). See below for details of her diabetes programs. Medical Disclaimer -Before embarking on any change in diet or activity, I highly recommend a physical exam and thorough healthcare screening with your primary healthcare provider. This article should not be construed as medical advice, nor should it be substituted for medical advice from your healthcare provider. By continuing to read this article, you assume all responsibilities and risks for instituting lifestyle management of your diabetes. Many with Diabetes are confused by the conflicting dietary advice they receive. And no wonder. The dietary advice given to those with diabetes has been extremely poor. For decades, people with diabetes have been told center their diet around carbohydrates, many being counseled to consume 250+ grams of carbohydrates per day. No person needs to consume 250+ grams of carbohydrates per day, let alone the very people who are unable to effectively process them, those with diabetes. Eating this much carbohydrates daily would mean that one would HAVE to be consuming a great deal of sugar or refined, processed foods. It would be extremely difficult to consume this amount of carbohydrates while EATING REAL FOOD. Further, many are told “calories from sugar can be substituted equally for other carbohydrates as part of a healthy balanced diet f Continue reading >>
Low-carb Lab Testing – Part 1 – Blood Sugar Tests
Welcome to part 1 of our series on low-carb lab testing, where we’ll look at common blood sugar test options and how to interpret and track your results. In these posts we’ll dig into the most common lab tests one will encounter on their low-carb journey. Our goal is to educate you on what these tests mean so you can be better informed as you work to optimize your health. In this first post, we look at three tests that can be used to monitor your blood glucose levels. In subsequent posts, we’ll shift focus to insulin, lipids, thyroid and other markers that are important for patients to understand. Heads Up Health was designed to help you centralize and track all of your vital health data in one place, including important lab test results, so you can make informed and empowered decisions about your health. To get started, simply click on the button below to create your account. Or, read on for more information about common tests to help you monitor your blood sugar levels. Blood sugar, insulin and health Chronic, long term pathological elevations in blood glucose or insulin have been linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney problems, deterioration of eyesight, neuropathy, poor prognosis in cancer, connective tissue irregularities, orthopedic injuries and more. Links and associations are not necessarily causal relationships, but the medical literature is robust with research detailing potential mechanisms by which chronically high blood glucose or insulin might be either directly causing or at the very least exacerbating these outcomes. With this in mind, if you’re concerned about your long term health and quality of life, keeping blood glucose and insulin within healthy ranges is one of the most important and effective things you can do. Continue reading >>
Low Carb Diet Blood Sugar Still High
Ground Turkey. A high-carb diet causes your body to live in a state of constant high-blood sugar levels and spiked insulin loads. Learn why this is important. Should everyone follow a low carb diet? Before you get too excited, Im not about to tell you that a low carbohydrate diet is a remedy for back pain. Basically, we eat low-carb diets to keep our blood sugar stable. The High Blood Glucose Dilemma on Low Carb ... of having high Blood ... the first one that comes up when you search for high glucose on a low-carb diet. What is a low carb diet, really? Eating to control your weight and your blood sugar The Mediterranean-style low carb approach which we recommend in The Blood Sugar Diet, is low ... fewer sugar spikes the rest of the time due to the lower carb/low calorie diet. Low-carb diets can mimic the effects of GHB - also known as liquid ecstasy. A small study from Sweden shows that a low-carbohydrate diet may be one of the ... Do Low-Carb Diets Help Diabetes? Original Article. Your carbs are still really high. How are your Bloody Sugar levels affected on the Low Carb, High Fat food lifestyle. Ground turkey is such a versatile and healthy way to enjoy protein. A small study from Sweden shows that a low-carbohydrate diet may be one of the ... Do Low-Carb Diets Help Diabetes? This causes a sudden drop in the blood sugar level. Strange question, huh? 102 Responses to High Blood Sugar In Ketogenic Dieters! If you are following a low-carb diet, stick to low-sugar fruits By Laura Dolson ... are dried fruits that are very high in sugar. A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity. This diet flips your metabolism from burning more fat than carbs, called ketosis. Hypoglycemia and Diet What Is Hypoglycemia? Low-carb diets are all about balancing out Continue reading >>
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 Diet For Diabetes: Should You Try It?
Many diet-related conditions rely on medication. But the primary treatment for type 2 diabetes is diet and lifestyle change. There is growing evidence a low-carb diet may be a useful alternative to conventional diet advice. In fact, it may even be better. This article provides a transparent look at the best evidence available, and whether you should consider it. What Is A Low-Carb Diet? A low carb diet is an eating pattern that limits carbohydrate foods, such as sugary foods, flour and bread. There are several different versions, but they are generally high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables. The standard American diet is at least 50% carbs, which is about 300 grams per day. Low-carb diets range from about 30% down to 5%. Given the amount of carbs in your diet is the main determinant of blood sugar levels, it makes sense that reducing carb intake could be beneficial for diabetes care (1). Low- Carb and Diabetes: What Do Controlled Trials Show? Randomised controlled trials are considered the “gold standard” of scientific evidence. In this case researchers would feed one group of diabetics a standard American diet (typically 50-60% carbs), and another a strict low-carb diet for several months or more. They can then compare which group does better. A 2015 study looked at 93 type 2 diabetic men and women for one year. Half were randomly put on a high-carb diet (53% carbs) and the others on a low-carb diet (14% carbs, less than 50 grams per day). Each subject’s diet plan was individualised to provide a 30% calorie reduction for weight loss, and all participated in a supervised physical activity program for the year. Both diets showed significant improvements in daily blood sugar stability, diabetes medication usage, weight loss, fat loss, insulin resistance, HDL-ch Continue reading >>
Ada’s Latest Low-carb Stance Is Severely Flawed, Says Longtime Low-carb Advocate Dr. Bernstein
Diabetes Health Pioneering low-carb diet advocate Dr. Richard K. Bernstein has responded to the American Diabetes Association’s recent support for low-carb diets with a critique of several of the ADA’s most cherished notions. In a recent “Ask Dr. Bernstein.com” tele-seminar presented to callers and listeners, he cited the ADA’s 2008 guidelines for doctors, disputing the association’s recommendations on several fronts: He said that the ADA’s definition of a low-carb diet as one with 130 or fewer grams of carbohydrates per day “is four times higher than what I recommend and makes it impossible to maintain [blood glucose] control.” He disputed the ADA’s contention that an A1c of less than 6 for people with diabetes increases the risk of hypoglycemia. “The risk is only to people taking the industrial insulin doses that the ADA recommends for covering their high-carbohydrate diets. Regarding the ADA’s recommendation that adults with diabetes shoot for blood sugar levels of 70 mg/dl to 130 mg/dl before meals and 180 mg/dl after meals – with even higher levels allowed for children – Dr. Bernstein said, “Children are not entitled to normal blood sugar levels? And neither are adults.” Those guidelines, he said, “were created by non-diabetics to be imposed upon diabetics.” Dr. Bernstein called the association’s recommendation that people with diabetes regularly see podiatrists to have their foot calluses debrided with a scalpel “the most dangerous thing you can do to a diabetic.” He said that 100 percent of the diabetic amputees he has ever interviewed in his university-based wound care clinic told him that their amputations arose from infections caused by an attempt to remove a callus – whether at the hands of a podiatrist, a family me Continue reading >>
A Guide To Healthy Low-carb Eating With Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions. It currently affects over 400 million people worldwide (1). Although diabetes is a complicated disease, maintaining good blood sugar control can greatly reduce the risk of complications (2, 3). One of the ways to achieve better blood sugar levels is to follow a low-carb diet. This article provides a detailed overview of low-carb diets for managing diabetes. If you have diabetes, your body cannot process carbohydrates effectively. Normally, when you eat carbs, they are broken down into small units of glucose, which end up as blood sugar. When blood sugar levels go up, the pancreas responds by producing the hormone insulin. This hormone allows the blood sugar to enter cells. In healthy people, blood sugar levels remain within a narrow range throughout the day. In diabetes, however, this system doesn't work the way it is supposed to. This is a big problem, because having both too high and too low blood sugar levels can cause severe harm. There are several types of diabetes, but the two most common ones are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Both of these conditions can be diagnosed at any age. In type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune process destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Diabetics must inject insulin several times a day to ensure that glucose gets into the cells and stays at a healthy level in the bloodstream (4). In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells at first produce enough insulin, but the body's cells are resistant to its action, so blood sugar remains high. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin, attempting to bring blood sugar down. Over time, the beta cells lose their ability to produce enough insulin (5). Of the three nutrients -- protein, carbs and fat -- carbs have the grea 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 >>
Why Your “normal” Blood Sugar Isn’t Normal (part 2)
Hi, I just found this site and would like to participate. I will give my numbers, etc. First, my last A1c was 6.1, the doc said it was Pre-diabetes in January of 2014, OK, I get it that part, but what confuses me is that at home, on my glucometer, all my fastings were “Normal” however, back then, I had not checked after meals, so maybe they were the culprits. Now, I am checking all the time and driving myself crazy. In the morning sometimes fasting is 95 and other times 85, it varies day to day. Usually, after a low carb meal, it drops to the 80’s the first hour and lower the second. On some days, when I am naughty and eat wrong, my b/s sugar is still low, and on other days, I can eat the same thing, and it goes sky high, again, not consistent. Normally, however, since February, my fbs is 90, 1 hour after, 120, 2nd hour, back to 90, but, that changes as well. In February, of 2014, on the 5th, it was horrible. I think I had eaten Lasagne, well, before, my sugars did not change much, but that night, WHAM-O I started at 80 before the meal, I forgot to take it at the one and two hour mark, but did at the 3 hour mark, it was 175, then at four hours, down to 160, then at 5 hours, back to 175. I went to bed, because by that time, it was 2 AM, but when I woke up at 8:00 and took it, it was back to 89!!!! This horrible ordeal has only happened once, but, I have gone up to 178 since, but come down to normal in 2 hours. I don’t know if I was extra stressed that day or what, I am under tons of it, my marriage is not good, my dear dad died 2 years ago and my very best friend died 7 months ago, I live in a strange country, I am from America, but moved to New Zealand last year, and I am soooo unhappy. Anyway, what does confuse me is why the daily differences, even though I may Continue reading >>
How You Can Have High Blood Sugar Without Carbs
How You Can Have High Blood Sugar Without Carbs Can you have high blood sugar without carbs? Well, its important to look at common beliefs about high blood sugar first. High blood sugar is bad. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar. Therefore carbohydrates are bad. The theory is simple, and yet incredibly flawed. The truth is, you can have chronically high blood sugar even while religiously avoiding every starch and sugar in sight. Low-carb forums are littered with posts asking a very relevant question: Why is my blood sugar so high when Im not eating any carbs? The answer is simple, yet often overlooked. The Hormone that Raises Blood Sugar: No Carbohydrates Required If the body were an engine, glucose would be its fuel. Most people think glucose only comes from carbohydrates (sugar and starch), but protein can also be turned into glucose when there arent enough carbs around to do the job. This is called gluconeogenesis, and its performed by one of the major stress hormones cortisol. When you have high cortisol levels (from diet, lifestyle, etc.), the cortisol rapidly breaks down protein into glucose, which can raise blood sugar levels considerably. For some folks, this results in chronically high blood sugareven if they are on a low-carb diet. The trouble is, cortisol isnt just breaking down the protein you eat. Its doing something far more destructive. The body is quite a smart machine, and it has no problem taking detours to get energy if necessary. If your body isnt getting the energy it needs from your diet, it has a back-up source: its own tissue. It sounds kind of cannibalistic, eating your own lean body tissue for energy. I mean, I seriously doubt any one of you would relish cutting off a chunk of your leg for dinner. I know I wouldnt. But every time your body uses c Continue reading >>
Is Low-carb Eating Really Better For Blood Sugar?
A review of popular low-carbohydrate diets finds that while restricting carbs can reduce blood sugar in the short run, evidence in support of long-term benefits is lacking. While very low carbohydrate diets (LCD) promise to cut blood sugars, a review of popular LCDs finds that while very low-carb eating can reduce blood sugar in the short run, little evidence exists to show long-term benefits. The study, published online in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, reports that while LCDs may be “slightly better than low fat diets for weight and triglycerides management” they are “not superior for the management of blood glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels.” However, researchers note that physicians should be aware that “available evidence for LCDs is limited because of variable definitions, lack of long-term studies, and lack of patient adherence.” Diets considered ranged from very low carb—less than 20 to 60 grams per day—to less restrictive diets that averaged about 130 grams per day. The American Diabetes Association says diets should be tailored to individual needs, but recommends starting at 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal. “Patients can likely follow a version of the low carbohydrate diet for longer than the studies suggest, but we don’t know the health effects of a very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet of less than 20 grams of carbs per day,” says Heather Fields, MD, an author of the study and a doctor of integrative medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. “With so few people adhering to a truly ketogenic diet long term [more than a year], we will likely never be able to study the health effects in a meaningful way.” Dr. Fields finds that if type 2 patients have not had success with a plant-based, who Continue reading >>