A Guide to Healthy Low-Carb Diet for Diabetes Patients

Why is it important to take a low-carb diet for diabetes patients?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects a large number of people worldwide.

Research shows that about 537 million adults (20-79 years) are currently living with diabetes. These numbers are expected to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045

Keeping excellent blood sugar levels can significantly lower the likelihood of complications from diabetes, even though it is a problematic condition.

Adopting a low-carb diet is one strategy to improve blood sugar levels.

This article looks at low-carbohydrate diets for managing diabetes. 

What is diabetes, and how does food affect it? 

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas can no longer make insulin, or the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. It impairs the body’s ability to digest carbs properly.

When you consume carbohydrates, they typically break down into little glucose units that become blood sugar.

The pancreas responds by manufacturing the hormone insulin when blood sugar levels rise. Cells can then take up blood sugar thanks to insulin.

Blood sugar levels in people without diabetes stay within a specific range all the time. However, this system doesn’t operate the same for people with diabetes.

The fact that insulin cannot absorb blood sugar is a significant issue since having blood sugar levels that are both too high and too low can be pretty harmful. 

It is important to note that type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the two most prevalent kinds of the disease. These two disorders can develop at any age.

  • In type 1 diabetes: The insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by an autoimmune process. Therefore, to ensure that glucose enters the cells and maintains a healthy amount in the bloodstream, diabetics take insulin numerous times throughout the day.
  • In type 2 diabetes: The beta cells produce an adequate amount of insulin, but blood sugar levels stay high because the body’s cells resist its action. The pancreas then generates more insulin to lower blood sugar to make up for this action. 

The beta cells eventually lose their capacity to produce adequate insulin over time.

Carbohydrates, one of the three macronutrients, along with proteins and fats, are most important for controlling blood sugar mainly because they are converted into glucose by the body.

Therefore, when people with diabetes consume a lot of carbohydrates, they may need to take high quantities of insulin, medicine, or both to help absorb the excess blood sugar. 

Can low-carb diets contribute to the control of diabetes? 

Many studies back up low carbohydrate diets for diabetes treatment.

Low carbohydrate diets were the accepted standard of care for diabetics before the 1921 discovery of insulin.

Furthermore, people who follow low-carb diets appear to manage diabetes in the long run effectively.

In one trial, patients with type 2 diabetes followed a low-carb diet for six months. Their diabetes was well-controlled more than three years later, as long as they followed the diet.

Similarly, during four years, those with type 1 diabetes who adhered to the diet reported a noticeable improvement in their blood sugar levels. 

Also read, ways to keep tiredness and fatigue low in diabetes

What is the ideal carbohydrate consumption for people with diabetes? 

Even among the people who favor carb restriction, there is still debate over the appropriate carb consumption for those with diabetes.

Numerous studies have shown that limiting carbohydrate intake to 20 grams daily significantly improved indices such as blood sugar levels, body weight, and other measurements.

Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, who has type 1 diabetes, reports reasonable blood sugar control in his patients who follow the same diet. He consumes 30 grams of carbohydrates each day.

However, other studies show that a more moderate carb restriction, such as consuming only 20% of calories from carbohydrates or 70–90 grams of total carbohydrates, is also effective. 

Since every person reacts differently to carbohydrates, the ideal amount of carbohydrates may also differ from person to person.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) asserts that there is no universally effective diet for people with diabetes. The ideal meal plans reflect your nutritional habits and metabolic objectives.

The Association (ADA) also advises people to discuss their carbohydrate needs with their doctors or healthcare providers.

Consider taking a blood glucose reading before a meal and once more one to two hours later to determine your ideal carb intake. 

You can consume 6 grams, 10 grams, or 25 grams of carbs every meal on a low-carb diet as long as your blood sugar levels stay below 140 mg/dL (8 mmol/L), the level at which nerve damage may occur.

Everything is subject to your tolerance. Remember that the basic rule is that your blood sugar will increase less if you consume fewer carbohydrates.

Furthermore, a balanced low-carb diet should contain nutrient-dense, high-fiber carb sources, including vegetables, berries, nuts, and seeds, rather than altogether banning them.

Which carbs cause blood sugar to rise? 

Carbohydrates in plant meals are made up of starch, sugar, and fiber. Blood sugar is only increased by the starch or carbohydrate and sugar components.

Whether soluble or insoluble, naturally occurring fiber does not convert to glucose in the body and does not increase blood sugar levels.

You may determine the digestible or “net” carb content by deducting the fiber and sugar alcohols from the overall amount of carbohydrates. One cup of cauliflower, for instance, has 5 grams of carbohydrates, 3 of which are fiber. It has 2 grams of net carbs as a result.

Even type 2 diabetics’ fasting blood sugar and other health markers have been found to improve by prebiotic fiber like inulin. 

Another cause of untold pain to persons with diabetes is the sugar-free products in the market. 

Maltitol, xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol are examples of sugar alcohols frequently used to sweeten sugar-free candies and other items.

Some of them, particularly maltitol, can cause diabetics’ blood sugar levels to rise.

Use the net carb tool with caution since the count on a product’s label might not be revised even after subtracting all of the carbs that maltitol supplied.

From the statements above, we learn that dietary fiber does not cause blood sugar levels to rise as starches and sugars do. 

What to eat and foods to stay away from

Concentrating on eating healthy meals high in nutrients and low in carbs is preferable.

Regardless of what you eat, paying attention to your body’s hunger signals and fullness is equally critical. 

Kinds of food you can take

The list below shows examples of low-carb foods you can consume. Ensure that you have adequate protein at each meal as well:

  • Poultry, meat, and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Nonstarchy vegetables (most vegetables except those listed below)
  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Olive oil, butter,  coconut oil, cream, cream cheese, and sour cream

Foods to consume moderately 

Depending on your carb tolerance, you can consume the following foods in lesser amounts at meals: 

  • Berries
  • Plain yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Nuts and peanuts
  • Chia seeds or flaxseeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Butternut, pumpkins
  • Dry White or red wine

Despite having carbs and protein, legumes like peas, lentils, and beans are nutritious sources of carbs. Include these in your daily carbohydrate total.

When carbs are drastically reduced, insulin levels often drop, which triggers the kidneys to release salt and water.

To replace the lost sodium, try eating a cup of broth, a few olives, or some other salty low-carb items. Don’t hesitate to season your food with a little additional salt.

However, consult your doctor before consuming more sodium in your diet if you have congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or high blood pressure.

Foods to avoid

These high-carbohydrate foods can drastically boost blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and cause them to become sick: 

  • bread, pasta, cereal, corn, and other grains
  • starchy vegetables, like potatoes
  • milk
  • juice, soda, punch, sweetened tea, etc.
  • beer
  • desserts, baked goods, candy, ice cream, etc. 

A sample of a low carbohydrate meal for a person with diabetes 

Here is a menu with 15 grams or fewer digestible carbohydrates in each serving. You can change the serving sizes if your carb tolerance is higher or lower. 

Breakfast: Spinach and eggs

  • Three eggs prepared in butter (1.5 grams of carbs)
  • 1 cup spinach,sautéed  (3 grams of carbs)

You can take your spinach and eggs with:

  • 1 cup of blackberries (6 grams of carbs)
  • 1 cup of coffee with cream(optional sugar-free sweetener)

Total digestible carbs for breakfast: 10.5 grams

Lunch: Cobb salad

  • 90 grams of cooked chicken
  • 30 grams of cheese (1/2 gram of carbs)
  • A slice of bacon
  • Medium-sized avocado cut in half (2 grams of carbs)
  • Chopped tomatoes 1 cup (5 grams of carbs)
  • A cup of shredded lettuce (1 gram of carbs)
  • olive oil and apple cider vinegar

You can take the salad with:

  • 20 grams of dark chocolate (4 grams of carbs)
  • One glass of iced tea

Total digestible carbs for lunch: 12.5 grams.

Dinner: Fish with veggies

  • Small-sized grilled fish
  • 1/2 cup sautéed courgettes(3 grams of carbs)
  • 1 cup sautéed mushrooms (2 grams of carbs)

To complement your meal and for dessert:

  • 120 g of red wine (3 grams of carbs)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • Chopped walnuts (6 grams of carbs)

Total digestible carbs: 14 grams

Total digestible carbs for the day: 37 grams

Carbohydrates should be distributed evenly throughout the three meals in a diet to control diabetes. Every meal should be balanced in terms of protein, good fats, and a limited amount of carbohydrates, mainly from vegetables. 

Before making dietary changes, consult your doctor. 

The amount of blood sugar is frequently dramatically reduced when carbs are controlled.

Because of this, your doctor will frequently lower the dosages of your insulin and other medications. They might completely stop using your medicine under some circumstances.

According to one study, limiting carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day allowed 17 out of 21 types two diabetes study participants to discontinue or reduce their diabetes medication.

Participants in a different trial who had type 1 diabetes consumed fewer than 90 grams of carbohydrates daily. Their blood glucose levels increased, and since their insulin dosages were drastically decreased, there was a lower risk of low blood sugar. 

There is a substantial risk of hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar levels, if insulin and other prescriptions aren’t adjusted for a low-carb diet.

In light of this, it’s crucial that anyone on insulin or other diabetes drugs consult their doctor before beginning a low-carb diet. 

Additional approaches to lowering blood sugar

Physical exercise, which enhances insulin sensitivity, can help manage diabetes in addition to eating a low-carbohydrate diet.

It is instrumental to combine resistance training with aerobic exercise.

Sleeping well is also essential. According to research, people who have trouble sleeping have a higher risk of acquiring diabetes.

According to a recent observational study, people with diabetes who slept for 6.5 to 7.5 hours each night had better blood glucose control than those who slept for less or longer. 

Another element of adequate blood sugar control is controlling your stress. Meditation and yoga have all been demonstrated to reduce insulin and blood sugar levels. 


Studies show that low-carb diets can effectively control type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Low-carbohydrate diets can help you better control your blood sugar, use fewer medications, and lower your chance of developing diabetic complications.

Remember that your prescription levels may need to be modified, so consult your doctor before making any dietary changes. 

Acha Maoni

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *