Diabetes is a serious and persistent health condition. Also, it affects a large segment of the population worldwide. Unhealthy dietary habits, sedentary lifestyles, stress, and obesity are the leading causes of diabetes. However, regular blood sugar monitoring, medication, and lifestyle modification reduce the associated symptoms and complications. Lifestyle modification includes a well balanced and nutritious diet, regular workouts and physical activity. A study suggests that low carbohydrates are effective in various aspects of diabetes management.
What is a Low-Carb Diet?
When a person has diabetes, their body cannot process carbohydrates effectively. In addition, a low-carbohydrate diet must have high protein and healthy fats. Moreover, it must restrict sugar and starch contents. Anything under 100–150 grams of carbohydrates per day is considered a low-carb diet. However, if you want to get into ketosis, the carb levels should be less than 50 grams per day.
Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, seafood, good fat, and whole grains make good low-carb diets. Also, you can take low-fat dairy products in moderation. It includes milk, greek yoghurt, cheese and likewise. In addition, they are a good source of protein and calcium. Both of which are essential for both diabetes and overall health.
A low-carb diet is a preferred choice for weight management. However, the health benefits are countless. One of the significant benefits is in preventing and managing diabetes. It is due to the nutrient value in low carb dietary contents. The rationale is simple. The fewer carbs you eat, the less your blood sugar level will spike.
Why Low Carb Diet for Diabetes?
Excessive carbohydrates are harmful, especially for diabetes. It spikes your blood sugar. In a healthy condition, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. Also, this is because insulin initiates the cell to absorb it for cell functions. However, in diabetes, insulin deficiency or resistance prevents the cell from absorbing it. Thus, it results in the accumulation of glucose, raising blood glucose levels.
People with diabetes are often overweight or obese. Obesity also leads to diabetes, cardiac diseases and associated complications. So it is a double-edged sword. A healthy weight loss with specific lifestyle changes helps regulate the blood glucose level to a large extent.
It includes regulating blood glucose levels and weight loss. Additionally, it also helps in reducing the dose of anti-diabetic drugs. Moreover, it improves the overall health of the patients. Drastic improvements occur in people when the carb intake is 20 grams per day. However, there is no magic number. One can decide on an optimal level of carbs depending on the individual response to carbs. Therefore, you should consult a nutritionist to find out what works for you. In addition, you should measure blood sugar levels before and after a meal. As long as the blood sugar levels are below 140 mg/ DL, the carb levels are ok for you. Also, the kind of carbs plays an essential role. Vegetables, nuts and seeds are good examples of high-fibre carbs that help manage blood sugar levels in diabetes-friendly meal plans.
Importance of Carbohydrate
Carbohydrates are essential nutrients. It is one of the vital nutrients like protein and fat. The carbohydrates break down to glucose. The cells absorb them and use them as a source of energy. Additionally, the excess carbohydrates get stored in your muscles and liver.
Apart from energy sources, they are necessary for various functions. It includes bowel movements, digestion and likewise. Therefore a complete elimination of carbohydrates can have adverse reactions. It may result in malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, constipation and furthermore. Headaches, dizziness and fatigue are other signs.
Moreover, carbohydrate restriction may result in ketosis. It is the process by which your body breaks down fat into ketones for energy. Therefore, it may not be great for people with diabetes. Dizziness, headache, and fatigue are a few signs of ketosis.
Nonetheless, you should be discrete in choosing carbohydrates. Ensure to use complex carbohydrates which are in a low carb diet. It is nothing but whole grain products instead of refined variants. Whole grains are abundant in every nutrient for overall health. They help to regulate your sugar levels. Thus a low carb diet is preferred.
Check with your healthcare provider before altering your dietary habits. A proper guideline is essential, especially when you are under medication. In addition, it helps to avoid any complications.
Benefits of Low Carb with Diabetes
A low-carb diet must contain fruits, whole grains, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, cheese, etc. In addition, they are dense in nutrients. Also, they contain antioxidants, dietary fibres, healthy fats, essential nutrients, etc. Each element has the potential to regulate your blood glucose levels. Additionally, it promotes overall health. Finally, a well-crafted low carb diet helps boost your immunity, thus preventing you from multiple diseases and complications.
Read through to learn how a low carb diet helps manage diabetes.
Obesity and being overweight can lead to Diabetes. A study states that a low carb diet effectively manages weight loss and obesity. Low-carb diets containing dense dietary fibres make you fuller for a more extended period. As a result, it prevents overeating. Moreover, low carb foods are excellent sources of potassium levels. Therefore, it regulates the fluid content in your body. Accumulation of fluid contributes to weight gain.
People with diabetes are prone to the risk of elevated levels of triglycerides. It is because if you eat excess carbohydrates, it converts to fat. Research finds that a high carbohydrate diet can lead to high triglyceride levels. They are unhealthy fats or bad cholesterol that accumulate in your blood. It blocks blood circulation resulting in blood pressure and blood clot. Thus it can trigger cardiac diseases. In the case of diabetes, it is pretty common.
Low-carb diets must contain dietary fibres as they bind with unhealthy fats and get eliminated from the blood. Additionally, the healthy fats in a low carb diet increase HDL, preventing heart diseases.
Boosts Good Cholesterol
Look for foods that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It helps to increase the good cholesterol HDL. But, on the other hand, it helps reduce the low-density lipoproteins LDL or harmful cholesterol. LDL is associated with heart diseases. Moreover, the risk factor for cardiac diseases is high in diabetes patients.
Reduces Blood Glucose Levels
Low carb diet rich in dietary fibres helps control your blood sugar significantly. Also, the fibre does not spike your glucose level. As a result, it initiates the body to synthesise more insulin. Thus a low carb diet stabilises blood glucose levels.
Moreover, a low carb diet must contain reasonable amounts of protein. Also, recent research shows that they have the properties to promote insulin synthesis. It results in the elimination of glucose from the blood. Thus proteins help in stabilising blood glucose.
Low Carbohydrate Foods for Diabetes
The success of a diet depends on your understanding of the keyword. For example, you may be eating very few carbs, but you are eating the wrong ones. For example, white bread, white pasta or white rice and sugar-laden cookies and pastries can harm you. Therefore, refrain from refined food products. They are devoid of any healthy nutrients.
Focus on the following foods which will help you manage diabetes better:
Please remember a simple thumb rule. Most vegetables that grow above the ground have low carbohydrates. Leafy vegetables, cauliflowers, tomatoes and Brussels sprouts are a few among them. Moreover, they have antioxidants that neutralise the radical cell injury, which induces diabetes. Additionally, most vegetables have a low glycemic index. That means they do not spike your glucose levels after eating.
Leafy green vegetables contain lutein. It is an essential nutrient for your eyes and vital for diabetes due to the higher risk for Diabetic neuropathy. It is a complication of diabetes that may result in blindness.
Include fruits that have low carbohydrates. Apple, citrus fruits, and berries fall under this bracket. Moreover, they contain natural sugars. Fructose and sucrose don’t harm you like refined sugar. Moreover, most fruits are rich in potassium, an essential element that enhances insulin synthesis. As a result, potassium deficiency results in less insulin and high blood sugar. Additionally, dietary fibres prevent weight gain. All these factors help regulate blood sugar.
Low-Fat Dairy Products
A study states that low fat helps reduce body weight in diabetics. Moreover, dairy products are a good source of calcium. It strengthens your bones and also balances the electrolytes. Unfortunately, bone disorders and fluid imbalance occur in long term diabetes. Therefore dairy products help reduce such risks. Greek yoghurt, milk, and low-fat cheese have low carb options with healthy fats and proteins. Moreover, it has a low glycemic index.
Seafood is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and low in carbohydrates. They are healthy fats that neutralise bad cholesterol. For example, Salmon, Prawns, Sardines, and Tuna are low carb seafood options. Also, cholesterol is a significant cause of heart disease. People with diabetes are at a high risk of cardiac disease. It is a complication of long term diabetes.
Please include fatty fish to prevent such complications. Moreover, seafood is a good source of protein. It inhibits the hunger hormone ghrelin and prevents hunger pangs. Thus it helps you control body weight also.
Dietary fibres help to control diabetes in multiple ways. First, it keeps you full and helps maintain optimum body weight. In addition, they also help control cholesterol. Finally, it prevents you from the risks of cardiac diseases and stroke.
Nuts are low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats. Moreover, it also contains magnesium. A study states it helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Moreover, the rich dietary fibre helps control body weight and cholesterol levels. Additionally, the antioxidants prevent multiple complications of diabetes. It includes cardiac diseases, obesity, blood pressure, neuropathy, etc. Almonds, walnuts, and peanuts are good to go in low carb diets.
Berries are superfoods for diabetes for various reasons:
- First, they have a low glycemic index.
- The low sugar alongside dense dietary fibres makes it suitable for a diabetic diet.
- It contains an antioxidant, polyphenols, that significantly lowers fat cell formation.
Some of the best berries to eat are Blueberries, Blackberries and Strawberries.
Flaxseeds are potent food for diabetes individuals. However, they contain lignan, a compound that regulates your blood sugar. Moreover, they also contain dense dietary fibres and multiple nutrients. Therefore, they are effective in delaying the progression of diabetes.
Low Carb and Keto Diet
Low carb diet emphasises less than 130 grams of carbs regularly. However, carbohydrate consumption drastically reduces to 20 to 50 grams per day in a keto diet. As a result, this diet plan helps rapid weight loss through fat burning.
A study states that the role of the keto diet in diabetes management is debatable. Both low carb and Keto diets emphasise weight loss. They offer other health benefits also.
Please check with your healthcare provider before altering your dietary habits. A proper guideline is essential, especially when you are under medication. In addition, it helps to avoid any complications.
Recipes for Low Carb Eating with Diabetes
As you see the benefits of a low-carb diet, we will share a few easy and healthy recipes. These ingredients have vital nutrients which help you regulate diabetes. Moreover, the ingredients have a low glycemic index. Therefore, it ensures that your glucose levels do not rise after eating it.
Mix Vegetable Soup
- Serves: 2
- Calories: 124 per serving
- Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- 1 cup: 250ml
- Cauliflower: 1 cup
- Chopped Onion: ½ cup
- Chopped capsicum: ½ cup
- Crushed Flax Seeds: 1 tsp
- Crushed pepper: 1 tsp
- French beans: ¼ cup
- Low Fat Paneer: ¼ cup diced
- Grated garlic: ½ tsp
- Olive oil: 1 tsp
- Water or vegetable broth: 2 cups
- Lime juice: 1 tsp
- Add oil to a heated pan on low flame
- Now, put garlic and saute for two minutes
- Add cauliflower, capsicum, onion and french beans
- Saute them and then add salt
- Cook covered for a minute
- Add vegetable broth or water
- Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until cooked
- Add flaxseeds, paneer and cook for a minute
- Next, crackle some pepper powder
- Add lime juice just before serving
- Preparation Time: 5 minutes
- Serves: 2
- Calories: 120 per serving
- 1cup: 250 ml
- Cooked chopped mushroom-½ cup
- Cooked green peas-½ cup
- Chopped Capsicum-½ cup
- Sliced tomatoes-¼ cup
- Sliced lettuce or broccoli-¼ cup
- Chopped berries-1 tablespoon
- Crushed almonds-1 tablespoon
- Crushed pepper-½ teaspoon
- Oregano-¼ teaspoon
- Salt -¼ teaspoon
- Lemon juice-½ teaspoon
- Mix all the ingredients and serve
Preventive Measures for Diabetes
Diabetes Type 2 is primarily a lifestyle disorder. However, you can prevent it to a large extent. Here are a few measures to prevent or reduce the risk of diabetes.
The stress hormone cortisol is released into your blood when you are stressed. A study says that stress interrupts insulin function. It increases the blood glucose levels in your body. Exercises, morning walks, and relaxation techniques likewise help to relieve stress.
Obesity results in inflammation. Certain studies show unhealthy fats make your body resistant to insulin. That means your body cells are resistant to absorbing glucose. Insulin functions to transfer glucose to cells, thus causing an increase in glucose levels.
Unhealthy fats cause fat accumulation and blood clots along blood vessels. It results in blood pressure, cholesterol, cardiac diseases and much more. Therefore, an optimum body weight helps reduce the risk of diabetes along with its associated complications.
Quit Smoking and Alcohol
A study states that smoking is one of the causes of diabetes. Cigarettes contain nicotine. It affects your cells and results in inflammation. In addition, it restricts your body from responding to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels.
Research finds that alcohol increases the risk factor for diabetes. It damages the pancreatic cells and affects the synthesis of insulin. Therefore, it results in abnormal blood sugar levels.
Don’t Lead a Sedentary Lifestyle.
Physical inactivity results in weight gain and obesity and can trigger diabetes, blood pressure, cardiac diseases, etc. According to a study, exercise helps essentially in preventing such disorders. In addition, regular exercises strengthen your immunity and prevent various conditions.
Possible Side Effects of a Low-Carb Diet
A low carb diet has multiple benefits in diabetes management. Nonetheless, you cannot rule out its side effects. It occurs as a result of the sudden drop in carbohydrate quantity. Also, it includes constipation, muscle cramps, headache, dizziness and more. It may also affect your various systems in the long term due to nutritional deficiency.
If you are on any medication, ensure to alter your doses accordingly. Otherwise, it may result in a sudden drop in glucose levels resulting in hypoglycemia. Therefore seek a medical opinion before you opt for a low carb diet.
The Bottom Line
A low-carb diet contains a relatively lesser amount of carbohydrates with healthy fats and protein. It includes foods with low glycemic index and glyemic load such as whole grains, low G.I. fruits, vegetables, poultry, eggs, seafood and likewise. In addition, you must restrict sweets, refined food products, sugars etc. Moreover, along with a low carb diet, medications and physical activity are necessary to regulate diabetes.
However, a low carb diet may not be the only answer to controlling diabetes. It varies from person to person. In addition, it depends on your age, health, medical history and much more. Therefore, craft a low carb diet that works for you only.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What happens if diabetic stops eating carbs?
A. If you stop eating carbohydrates, it can result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, dizziness, fatigue and other disorders. But, again, this is because they are the primary energy source for your body.
Q. What foods are low in carbs for diabetics?
A. Fruits and vegetables grown above the ground are low in carbs. You can include whole-grain foods, beans, legumes, and seafood in a low carb diet. Low-fat dairy products are also low in carbohydrates.
Q. How many carbs a day should a diabetic have?
A. A person with diabetes can have 115-130 grams of carbohydrates a day. Therefore, it is an ideal low carb diet. It provides the necessary nutrients without spiking your glucose level.
Q. What are good carbs for type 2 diabetes?
A. Fruits, seafood, nuts, and leafy greens are good carbs for a person with diabetes. Moreover, vegetables grown above the ground are compatible with a low carb diet. Low-fat dairy products are also good carbs.
Q. How many carbs does it take to reverse diabetes?
A. A recommended quantity of 50 grams of carbs per day may help reverse diabetes. However, this is not a thumb rule. It depends on various factors like overall health, medications, age and likewise.
Q. Is cheese good for diabetics?
A. Yes, low-fat cheese is good for diabetes. It has a low glycemic index (G.I.). Therefore it does not raise your blood sugar. Moreover, it is a good source of protein and calcium.
Q. Which foods do not spike insulin?
A. Any food with a low glycemic index does not spike sugar levels. It means that your glucose levels do not spike after eating them. It includes low G.I. fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, nuts, seafood, etc.
Q. Can too few carbs cause high blood sugar?
A. No, a few carbs do not cause high blood sugar. However, it results in various disorders. It includes nutritional deficiency, dehydration, fatigue, dizziness and much more. Additionally, it results in ketosis.
Q. Which carb is the healthiest?
A. Beans, and nuts are a few of the healthiest carbs. Moreover, fruits and vegetables, leafy greens are also healthy. Additionally, complex carbohydrates are the most beneficial. It is present in whole-grain food products.
Q. Can keto heal diabetes?
A. No, the keto diet may not help heal diabetes. However, it is effective in rapid weight loss. No particular diet can cure diabetes. However, some diets can help manage the symptoms and prevent blood sugar levels from surging.