If you are a regular reader of our site, you would already know that we highly endorse the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet for reversing diabetes, losing weight and improving your overall health and well-being. The reason why a low carb diet for diabetes comes highly recommended by doctors and nutritionists alike is the fact that carbohydrates are the main culprit behind elevated blood sugar levels. Once you eat fewer carbs, it automatically becomes much easier for the body to attain stable blood sugar levels.
Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) Diet for Diabetes: Why It Works?
Carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. These sugars enter the blood stream and elevate blood sugar levels. As a diabetic, your body either doesn’t produce insulin at all, or doesn’t produce enough insulin to minimize this blood sugar spike before it causes irreplaceable damage to internal organs. This is the reason why your body’s dependence on insulin goes down when you eat lesser carbs.
A UK study tried to understand the short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in type 2 diabetes. It found that restricting carbohydrate intake is an effective method to lose weight as well as improve HDL ratios. This was a randomized controlled trial studying 102 patients over a course of 3 months, and the results were published in the Diabetic Medicine in September 2005.
Another research group from Duke University Medical Center studying the effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients, found that 95.2% patients had managed to reduce or eliminate their glucose-lowering medication within 6 months of being on a LCHF diet.
A low carb diet works very well in lowering blood sugar and insulin levels. It’s also a very effective way to treat and possibly even reverse type 2 diabetes.
So why does the low carb high fat diet for diabetes work so well?
- Adding healthy fats to the diet helps avert hunger pangs and prevent binge eating. Those who follow LCHF diet don’t have to worry about calorie counting and calorie restriction. Studies show that when people cut carbs and eat more protein and fat, they end up eating much fewer calories. Researchers from Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center found that symptoms of negative effects and hunger improved to a greater degree in patients following a low-carb diet as compared to those following a low-fat diet.
- LCHF diet improves and reverses leptin resistance while also lowering blood pressure
- LCHF diet also raises good HDL levels while lowering triglycerides and LDL particles.
- Another advantage of the low carb high fat diet for diabetes is that it naturally helps reduce body inflammation and improves dental health, both of which are beneficial for diabetics.
Low Carb High Fat Diet: Foods to Eat and Those to Avoid
Now that we have established that a low carb diet for diabetics is highly effective, let’s talk about foods to eat and those to avoid on a low carb high fat diet.
Foods to Eat On LCHF Diet
- Meat such as beef, lamb, pork and poultry. Choose organic or grass-fed meats. Feel free to eat fatty cuts of pork and chicken with skin on.
- All fish and shellfish are good on LCHF diet. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring are great.
- Eggs of all kinds.
- Natural fats like butter and cream add great flavors to food and help you feel more satiated.
- High fat sauces like Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauce add amazing taste to vegetables on the side, salads and peached meats.
- Cook in healthy fats like coconut and olive oil.
- Vegetables that grow above ground such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, okra, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, olives, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, onions, peppers, and tomatoes help add bulk to your diet and become great sources of carbohydrates.
- Always select full-fat dairy options like real butter, cream (40% fat), sour cream, Greek/Turkish yogurt and high-fat cheese.
- Snack on nuts and berries instead of popcorn, chips and candy.
- If you lead a highly active lifestyle and need a higher carb intake, choose options like steel cut oats, quinoa and brown rice which are high in fiber and protein.
The most important rule – eat only when you’re hungry, and until you’re satisfied. It’s really that simple.
Foods To Avoid On LCHF Diet
- As you can imagine, sugar is the worst offender on this list. Avoid packaged juices, soft drinks, cakes, buns, ice-cream, chocolates and packaged breakfast cereals. Also avoid all artificial sweeteners. If you abhor the idea of being robbed of all sweetness from life, sweeten your beverages with organic Manuka honey. Remember to use it only sparingly, though.
- All processed, starchy carbs like bread, pasta, white rice, potato chips and muesli are best avoided. While lentils and beans are also high in carbs, they can be eaten in small amounts. Minimise the quantity of root vegetables as well on a LCHF diet.
- Margarine is artificially made butter with unnaturally high content of omega-6 fat. It tastes bad, has no health benefits, and has been linked to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory diseases. Avoid at all costs.
- Consider beer to be ‘liquid bread’. The carbs in most beers are rapidly absorbed, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. If you must have a drink, opt for dry wines or distilled alcohol (like rum, vodka, whisky) mixed with water (not sugary mixers).
- While fruit is considered to be ‘healthy’ by many, most fruits are very high in natural sugars. For a diabetic, eating too much fruit means ingesting a lot of extra sugar, which is highly undesirable. Eat fruits once in a while and choose wisely. Papaya, apples, plums and peaches are better options compared to bananas, pineapples, mangoes and grapes.
Here is a piece of good news for you — eating a LCHF diet as a lifestyle option is easier than most of us imagine it to be. In the beginning, eating a low carb high fat diet for diabetes will require careful planning – be it while shopping for groceries, browsing for LCHF recipes or making time to cook your meals from scratch.
Trust us when we say this – eating a LCHF diet is neither difficult nor overtly expensive in this high-carb world we live in. Some easy examples are: Eggs with chicken ham for breakfast, quinoa and chickpea salad with broccoli soup for lunch, and cauliflower mash with chicken patties for dinner.
If you are looking for inspiration, try out these LCHF recipes from our recipe section.
- Courgette, Carrot & Tomato Frittata
- Oven Baked Eggs with Tomato Salsa
- Scrambled Egg Whites with Chicken Chunks
Treat this diet and nutrition guide as a starting point to plan your meals. Talk to a certified nutritionist to chart out a low carb diet for diabetes that fits best with your lifestyle and specific goals.