Why a Low-Carb Diet is Helpful With Diabetes

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, Why a Low-Carb Diet is Helpful With Diabetes, Dr. Nicolle

Welcome to Diabetes Prevention Thursdays! Today, let’s talk about why a low-carb diet is helpful with diabetes. You probably already know you are supposed to reduce your sugar and certain other unhealthy foods when you have diabetes, but did you know a low-carb diet is also recommended? Here is a look into why eating a lower carb diet can be helpful with managing type 2 diabetes.

 

Carbs Can Turn Into Glucose

The main reason why your doctor might recommend going on a low-carb diet if you were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is because carbs can turn into glucose. Not just any carbs though, so don’t assume you need to have a zero carb count by the end of the day. Complex carbs, like whole grains, whole wheat, and veggies are typically allowed on any diet where you reduce your total carbohydrate counts. It is the refined carbohydrates, such as white rice, white pasta, white potatoes, and more starchy vegetables that can convert into sugar. Since you need to keep your glucose down, this can be a bad situation for you.

, Why a Low-Carb Diet is Helpful With Diabetes, Dr. Nicolle

Learn the Carb Limits With Diabetes

The first thing you should do is understand is exactly how many carbs to have each day. While your doctor will likely provide you with a number of their own, the average amount for someone on a low-carb diet should be around 100-125 grams of carbohydrates a day. You will need to start logging everything you eat to make it easier to track them. A good place to start is by logging what you eat now during a typical day, then see how many carbs you are eating. It will let you see where you are adding a lot of those refined carbs you really don’t need in your diet so you can make some adjustments.

 

Know the Right Serving Sizes

Even if you know what foods are lower in carbohydrates, you also need to understand what serving sizes are. Eyeballing servings is something you will eventually be able to do, but you might want to start with measuring and weighing your food. Do you know that a 3-ounce piece of chicken breast should fit in the palm of your hand? It is actually smaller than you probably think. You need to know exactly how much of each food item you are eating to be healthy and also keep your carb counts low.

, Why a Low-Carb Diet is Helpful With Diabetes, Dr. Nicolle

Tips For Staying on a Low-Carb Diet

If you are struggling with a low-carb diet, start slow. Continue eating your favorite meals, but just adjust some ingredients. Switch to spiralized veggies for pasta, but have your regular pasta sauce, go with sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, and try making cauliflower rice instead of having white rice. These are very small changes that are easy to stick to.

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, Why a Low-Carb Diet is Helpful With Diabetes, Dr. Nicolle

 

I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1).  Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.

 

I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.

 

Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring

Blood Sugar Monitoring

As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.

 

The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.

 

Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.

 

There are several types of blood glucose meters, lancets, and test strips to choose from. I often recommend this glucometer, lancets, and test strips.

 

Weight Monitoring

Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).

 

Physical Activity

Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.

 

I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.

 

Yoga

Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.

 

Resistance Training

Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.

 

Another alternative for dumbbells/free weights are resistance bands. They are great for physical therapy, yoga, strength training, and excellent for traveling.

, Why a Low-Carb Diet is Helpful With Diabetes, Dr. Nicolle

Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

 

Stay healthy,

 

Dr. Nicolle

 

PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.

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Why a Low-Carb Diet is Helpful With Diabetes

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