Your body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar, which enters the bloodstream. Diabetes patients with a lot of carbohydrates need insulin or drugs to prevent blood sugar from rising too much.
Many studies support the use of carbohydrate restriction in diabetic patients.
Low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet
Diets that are very low in carbohydrates usually cause mild to moderate ketosis , a condition where your body uses ketones and fats instead of sugar as the main energy source.
Ketosis usually occurs when the daily intake of total carbohydrates or digestible carbohydrates (total carbohydrates minus fiber) is less than 50 or 30 grams. This is equivalent to no more than 10% of calories in a 2000 calorie diet.
Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, diabetic patients had formulated a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet .
Many studies have shown that limiting carbohydrate intake to 20 to 50 grams per day can significantly reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, promote weight loss and improve heart health .
In addition, these improvements usually come quickly.
For example, in a study of obese and diabetic patients, limiting carbohydrates to 21 grams per day for 2 weeks resulted in a spontaneous decrease in calorie intake, a decrease in blood sugar levels, and a 75% increase in insulin sensitivity .
In a small 3-month study, people ate a calorie-restricted low-fat diet or low-carbohydrate diet, with a maximum intake of 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
The low-carbohydrate group had an average decrease of 0.6% in HbA1c, and the weight loss was twice that of the low-fat group. Moreover, 44% of them stopped at least one diabetes drug, compared with 11% in the low-fat group .
In fact, in some studies, insulin and other diabetes medications have been reduced or stopped due to improved blood sugar control .
A diet containing 20-50 grams of carbohydrates has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of disease in patients with prediabetes .
In a small 12-week study, men with obesity and prediabetes received only 30 grams of carbohydrates per day on a Mediterranean diet. Their fasting blood glucose dropped to an average of 90 mg/dL (5 mmol/L), which was well within the normal range .
In addition, these men lost an astonishing 32 pounds (14.5 kg) on average, and had significant reductions in triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure, among other benefits .
Importantly, these men no longer meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome due to lower blood sugar, weight, and other health indicators.
Although there are concerns that high protein intake in a low-carbohydrate diet may cause kidney problems, a recent 12-month study found that very low carbohydrate intake does not increase the risk of kidney disease .
Low carbohydrate diet
Many low-carbohydrate diets limit carbohydrates to 50-100 grams per day, or 10-20% of calories.
Although there are few studies on carbohydrate restriction in patients with type 1 diabetes, existing studies have reported impressive results .
In a long-term study of patients with type 1 diabetes who restricted carbohydrates to 70 grams per day, participants saw an average decrease in their HbA1c by 7.7% to 6.4%. Moreover, their HbA1c levels remained unchanged after 4 years .
The 1.3% reduction in HbA1c is a significant change for several years, especially for patients with type 1 diabetes.
One of the biggest concerns for people with type 1 diabetes is hypoglycemia , where blood sugar drops to dangerously low levels.
In a 12-month study, adults with type 1 diabetes who restricted their daily carbohydrate intake to less than 90 grams had 82% fewer episodes of hypoglycemia than they did before eating .
People with type 2 diabetes can also benefit by limiting their daily carbohydrate intake .
In a small 5-week study, men with type 2 diabetes who consumed a high-protein, high-fiber diet in which 20% of calories came from carbohydrates reduced their fasting blood glucose by 29% on average .
A moderate carbohydrate diet
A more moderate carbohydrate diet can provide 100–150 grams of digestible carbohydrates per day, or 20–35% of calories.
Some studies on this type of diet report that it has good results in diabetic patients .
In a 12-month study of 259 patients with type 2 diabetes, those who followed the Mediterranean diet ( 35% or less calories from carbohydrates) had a significant reduction in HbA1c on average-from 8.3% to 6.3% .
Find the right range
Studies have confirmed that a variety of restrictions on carbohydrate intake can effectively reduce blood sugar levels .
Since carbohydrates increase blood sugar, reducing it to any degree can help control blood sugar levels.
For example, if you currently consume about 250 grams of carbohydrates per day, reducing your intake to 150 grams can greatly reduce blood sugar after meals.
In other words, strictly limiting the intake of 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day seems to have the most significant effect, and can even reduce or even eliminate the need for insulin or diabetes drugs.
Studies have shown that restricting carbohydrates can benefit diabetics. The less carbohydrate intake, the greater the impact on blood sugar levels and other health indicators.
Many delicious, nutritious, low-carbohydrate foods will only raise blood sugar levels very little. These foods can be consumed in moderation in a low-carbohydrate diet.
However, you should avoid the following high-carbohydrate foods:
- Breads, muffins, rolls and bagels
- Pasta, rice, corn and other grains
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam and taro
- Milk and sweet yogurt
- Most fruits, except berries
- Cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream and other desserts
- Snacks such as pretzels, french fries and popcorn
- Fruit juice, soda water, sweetened ice tea and other sweetened beverages
Remember, not all of these foods are unhealthy. For example, fruits may be nutritious. However, they are not the best choice for people trying to control blood sugar levels by reducing carbohydrate intake.
In a low-carbohydrate diet, beer, bread, potatoes, fruits and sweets should be avoided.
Low-carbohydrate diets have been proven to lower blood sugar and improve other health indicators in diabetic patients.
At the same time, certain high-carbohydrate diets are also believed to have similar effects.
For example, some studies have shown that a low-fat vegan or vegetarian diet can improve blood sugar control and overall health .
In a 12-week study, a daily vegan diet based on brown rice contained 268 grams of carbohydrates (72% of calories) than the total daily carbohydrates in a standard diabetic diet of 249 grams (accounting for 64% of calories) reduced the participants’ HbA1c levels. Calories) .
The analysis of 4 studies found that people with type 2 diabetes following a low-fat natural longevity diet consisting of 70% carbohydrates can significantly reduce blood sugar and other health indicators .
The Mediterranean diet can also improve blood sugar control and provide other health benefits for diabetics .
However, it must be noted that these diets are not directly compared with low-carbohydrate diets, but with standard low-fat diets often used for diabetes management .
In addition, more research on these diets is needed.
Studies have shown that certain high-carbohydrate diets may help in the treatment of diabetes. Still need to study.
Although studies have shown that many different levels of carbohydrate intake may help control blood sugar, the optimal amount varies from person to person.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) once recommended that diabetics get about 45% of calories from carbohydrates.
However, ADA now advocates a personalized approach in which the ideal carbohydrate intake should take into account your dietary preferences and metabolic goals .
It is important to eat some carbohydrates that are most felt and can be maintained for a long time.
Therefore, determining how many carbohydrates to eat requires some testing and evaluation to find out which carbohydrate is best for you.
To determine your ideal carbohydrate intake, use a blood glucose meter to measure blood sugar before and 1-2 hours after a meal.
To prevent damage to blood vessels and nerves, the highest level your blood sugar should reach is 139 mg/dL (8 mmol/L).
However, you may want to drop to an even lower level.
In order to reach your blood sugar goal, you may need to limit your carbohydrate intake to less than 10, 15 or 25 grams per meal.
In addition, you may find that blood sugar rises more at certain times of the day, so the upper carbohydrate limit for dinner may be lower than that for breakfast or lunch.
Generally, the fewer carbohydrates you consume, the smaller your blood sugar rises, and the fewer diabetes medications or insulin you need to stay within a healthy range.
If you are taking insulin or diabetes medications, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before reducing your carbohydrate intake to ensure the proper dosage.
To determine the optimal carbohydrate intake for diabetes management, you need to test your blood sugar and make necessary adjustments based on your response (including how you feel).
If you have diabetes, reducing your carbohydrate intake may be beneficial.
A number of studies have shown that daily intake of 20-150 grams of carbohydrates or 5-35% of calories can not only improve blood sugar control, but also promote weight loss and other health improvements.
However, some people can hold more carbohydrates than others.
Testing your blood sugar and paying attention to how you feel under different carbohydrate intake can help you find the best range of diabetes control, energy levels and quality of life.