Diet Dangers for Type 2 Diabetics

May 17, 2011

Being overweight is a risk factor for diabetes, and there are a million diets out there if you are looking to lose a few pounds, or even stones. However, for diabetics the right diet is crucial as it is essential to have the right balance of foods to keep blood sugar levels under control.

The most popular diet advocated generally has been one that is low fat and high carbohydrate based, but many diabetics have struggled to lose weight, and keep it off, on this. More recently there has been a surge of interest in low carbohydrate and high protein diets (Atkins and similar) which have proved highly effective, but have not previously been suggested for diabetics. This has prompted Diabetes UK, the UK’s leading charity for people with diabetes, to state their position as their previous dietary recommendations have focused on the type of carbohydrate in the diet of people with diabetes and they have clarified this to say that the priority for people with Type 2 diabetes wanting to lose weight should be reducing overall energy intake whilst ensuring that the diet still provides all essential nutrients.

Everyone responds differently and what suits one person’s metabolism does not necessarily work for another and so you may need to try a number of different variations in your diet to achieve, and maintain, optimum weight loss. Diabetes UK does not say that low carbohydrate diets are best for all people with Type 2 diabetes, but that it may be suitable for some. Information to date has suggested that low-carbohydrate diets can reduce weight and lead to improvements in blood glucose control but the charity only found convincing evidence that this was effective for up to 1 year. Thus far there is insufficient evidence to support the safety and benefit of low-carbohydrate diets in the longer term.

If you want to lose weight on a low carbohydrate diet, and are diabetic, then you must discuss this with your dietitian so they can alert you the possible side effects of such a diet. If you are on a low carb diet then your blood glucose levels should be closely monitored and medications adjusted where necessary. Carbohydrate foods mainly provide energy for physical activity, so it is sensible to tailor the amount of the foods to how much exercise you do. Few people today get recommended daily minimum amount of physical activity, so it is little wonder that the old advice to eat more starchy foods would lead to weight gain for many.

This is good news for diabetics to try the high protein, low carb diets but remember you do need some carbohydrates – just make sure they are wholegrains and in moderate quantities. The best diet is the simplest; one that is low in saturated fats and salt, and rich in vegetables and fruits and includes wholegrains and oily fish. The two main factors that promote weight gain are having a sedentary lifestyle and eating too much refined carbohydrate from heavily processed foods.
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