According to information from the American Diabetes Association nearly 10% of the US population – and 400 million people around the world – are living with diabetes.
One of the top seven leading causes of death worldwide, a diabetic diagnosis as a potential to become a death sentence if left unchecked. On top of that, the disease itself is multifaceted and complicated to treat effectively – which is why you’ll need to do everything you can to fight back against this condition.
A low-carb diet for diabetics is one of the smartest ways you can treat your body better when fighting this disease.
This dietary approach works whether you’re dealing with Type I or Type II diabetes, works wonderfully in conjunction with diabetic prescription medications, and may even be the route to not having to take those prescription meds if you’re able to get out in front of your diabetes early enough.
Let’s break this down a little more.
Is A Low Carb Diet Healthy For Diabetics?
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or are living in a prediabetic condition is important to understand that your body is going to have an almost impossible time breaking down, processing, or using carbohydrates and sugar effectively.
Those without diabetes are able to eat carbs and have them broken down into tiny little chunks of glucose that inevitably worked their way into our bloodstream, becoming blood sugar. When our blood sugar levels start to rise our pancreas pumps out insulin hormones, allowing the blood sugar to enter cells that use this glucose as a fuel source.
When you have diabetes, however, the system breaks down and doesn’t work anywhere near as effectively or sufficiently as it could or should.
Type II diabetes in particular really works to build a resistance to insulin, forcing your blood sugar levels to remain sky-high – which in turn forces your pancreas to produce more and more insulin in order to bring that blood sugar level back down.
Over time, these “beta cells” aren’t able to produce enough insulin at all – and then you’re really looking at a dangerous situation.
With a low-carb dietary approach, however, you’re able to significantly reduce the amount of carbohydrates you take in. This helps to cut down significantly on the amount of glucose that makes its way into your blood sugar, which in turn reduces overall pancreatic activity and keeps your insulin levels nice and steady.
There’s a reason why so many doctors recommend high protein low carb diet for diabetics as a part of their diabetic management protocols. It works at least as effectively as modern medicine (if not even more so).
Recommended Amount of Carbs for Diabetics
Trying to find the perfect amount of carbohydrates for diabetics to consume on a regular basis is a bit of an uphill battle, if only because the medical community in general – and nutritionists around the world – have a difficult time getting together with a general consensus here.
A number of independent clinical studies have shown that these “sweet spot” for carbohydrate intake as a diabetic sits at just about 20 g per day. Some people are able to eat 30 g per day without any negative side effects, others will have to eat just 10 g per day, but as a general rule that 20 g recommendation seems to work out pretty well for most folks.
Of course, it’s important to go into a low-carb diet to treat your diabetes with an open mind and an interest in figuring out what works best for you.
Since everybody has unique biochemistry that will respond differently and distinctly to carbs you’ll have to tinker around with different daily carbohydrate intakes (tracking your blood sugar levels throughout the day) to find out where you sit on the scale.
The American Diabetes Association has a recommended amount of carbs for diabetics that involves testing your blood sugar levels an hour before you eat carbohydrates and then again an hour or so after to see the kind of spike it causes across the board.
You’re really looking to keep your overall blood sugar count below 140 mg/dL. Anything higher than that and you’re going to start seeing damage to your nerves being expressed, and that kind of damage can wreak havoc on your body in the short and long-term – really devastating your health from the inside out.
What Are Good Carbs and Bad Carbs For Diabetics?
Believe it or not, there are different subsets of carbohydrates that can sort of be classified as “good carbs” and “bad carbs” – particularly when you’re talking about these carbohydrates in reference to someone with diabetes.
Everyone needs to consume carbohydrates as part of a balanced nutritional profile (a lot of people that ask “why do diabetics need carbs” think they can eliminate them altogether, but nothing could be further from the truth). The trick is to find ways to add more good carbs to your daily diet than bad ones.
Good carbs are described as carbohydrates that are mostly made up of fiber. All carbohydrates in plants are made up of starches, sugars, and fiber – but it’s really the starch and sugar components you need to be on the lookout for as they are going to influence your blood sugar levels the most.
Fibrous vegetables (like cauliflower, for example) are a great way to make sure that you aren’t just getting enough carbohydrates on a daily basis but that you’re also getting other high-quality vitamins, minerals, and nutrients as part of your daily intake as well.
Starches and sugars (especially sugar alcohols) should be avoided at all costs. These sit very squarely in the realm of “bad carbohydrates”.
Low Carbohydrate Foods For Diabetics
If you are trying to figure out what are good carbs for diabetic to eat, or what your low-carb diet for diabetics should look like on a day in and day out basis, you are in luck!
For starters, you’ll want to make sure that you are loading up on as many high-quality sources of healthy protein and dietary fats. You really want to make these food sources the bulk of your daily intake, focusing on these healthy foods more than anything else.
When asking “what are good carbs for a diabetic to eat” we are talking about food sources like:
- Lean meat and poultry
- High-quality sources of seafood
- Quality dairy products, like cheese
- Farm fresh eggs
- Fibrous green vegetables
These are just some of the foods that you want to make staples of your new low-carb diet.
There are plenty of great prebuilt low-carb diet meal plans out there that you might want to look into just to get a feel for the kinds of dishes you can make with all of these high quality food sources.
On the flip side of things, you’ll want to make sure that you avoid:
- Breads, pasta, and cereal
- Starchy vegetables (like potatoes)
- Legumes (like peas, lentils, and beans)
- Most fruit
- Soda, juice, and sweet tea
- Desserts and baked goods
Hopefully, now you have a better idea of what you should and shouldn’t be eating, how your dietary decisions impact your overall blood sugar levels, your insulin production, and your overall health and wellness, and how you can have a huge impact on whether or not diabetes runs your life.
Obviously, with a medical condition is seriously you’ll only ever want to make major lifestyle changes with the blessing of your doctor or medical experts.
At the same time, you should certainly be doing your research and due diligence to figure out what you can do to fight back against diabetes and to win the war against this insidious disease.
Hopefully the tips and tricks included above help you eat healthier and leave the kind of happy and successful lifestyle you deserve with good health for years and years to come!