A Good No Carb Diet for a Person With Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that interferes with the body’s ability to transfer glucose from the blood to the cells. This causes glucose to build up in the bloodstream, which forces the body to flush out the excess through increased urination. This not only starves the cells of needed energy, but it also places stress on arteries and blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, kidney failure and gum disease. A healthy low-carb diet can help manage diabetes by reducing the rate at which glucose is released into the bloodstream.
If you are diabetic, you need to make an extra effort to control blood sugar levels. Consuming fewer carbohydrates reduces the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream. If you are on medication to help treat your diabetes, it is important to keep carbohydrate intake fairly consistent at each meal–so medications can stay the same, too. A low-carb diet can help you accomplish this task, and it may also help reduce other problems associated with diabetes by helping you to lose weight. Improperly balanced low-carb diets, however, may further increase risk for the diseases associated with diabetes . For greatest benefit, adjust your low-carb diet to reduce saturated fat, to increase healthy fats, and to include more nonstarchy vegetables.
Because diabetes increases risk for heart disease and stroke, it is important to regulate saturated fats as well as carbohydrates. Saturated fats are found in fatty meats, poultry skin, butter, full-fat dairy products and chocolate. Some low-carb diets do not restrict these artery-clogging “bad fats,” so you may have to take extra care to choose lean meats, vegetarian proteins and low-fat dairy products. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends restricting saturated fat to 7 percent of your daily calories (about 15 g per day). The ADA also recommends completely avoiding trans fats, found mostly in margarine, packaged foods and fast foods. The good news is that you may replace these “bad fats” with healthy, unsaturated fats found in avocado, olive oil, nuts, soybean products and some seafood (salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines). These naturally low-carb “good fats” not only improve heart health and brain function, they also help you feel full longer since fat digests more slowly than carbs or protein. Including these foods at each meal–and eating consistently throughout the day–should help prevent high-carb binges that can occur when you let yourself get too hungry.
To better enjoy vegetables, prepare them fresh while they are in season. Try a simple vegetable sauté with garlic, lemon and fresh herbs. To improve salads, add sliced sweet onion, bell pepper, shredded cabbage, arugula or avocado. You can also use vegetables to make up for potatoes. Try sautéed kohlrabi instead of french fries and roasted or mashed turnips alongside lean meat. You can also add these vegetables to soups and stews instead of potatoes. Because vegetables are high in fiber, they are more filling than simple carbs, which may leave you feeling hungry just a few hours later. Vegetables also contain antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals you need for good health–nutrients you won’t get enough of if you rely too much on protein.