• Steve Mann

Which Diet is Right For You?






Some diets aim to curb your appetite to reduce your food intake, while others suggest restricting your intake of calories, either carbohydrates or fat. All of them affect blood sugar management.


Intermittent fasting



Intermittent fasting cycles between fasting and eating. There are various forms, including the 16 / 8 method, which limits your calorie intake to 8 hours a day, and the 5: 2 methods, which limits your daily calorie intake to 500 - 600 calories twice a week.


How it works

Intermittent fasting limits the time you can eat, which is a simple way to reduce your caloric intake. This can lead to weight loss — unless you make up for it by eating too much during your eating periods.


Blood sugar control

The fasting period provides largely stable sugars with insufficient meals obviously. What you consume during the eating period will dictate what your sugars will do. With intermittent fasting, one must choose a diet from the below (or not) for that period.


Weight loss

In a study of studies, intermittent fasting has been shown to cause weight loss of 3 to 8% over 3 to 24 weeks, which is significantly higher than other methods (Study). This diet can reduce waist circumference by 4 to 7%, which is a marker of harmful belly fat. Other studies found that intermittent fasting can increase fat burning while preserving muscle mass, which can improve metabolism.


Other benefits

Intermittent fasting is linked to anti-aging effects, increased insulin sensitivity, improved brain health, reduced inflammation, and many other benefits.


Advisory

In general, intermittent fasting is safe for most healthy adults. Hypoglycemic Unaware diabetics should confirm with their health care providers, as should those who are underweight or have eating disorders.


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Plant-based diets


The most popular versions, vegetarianism and veganism, restrict animal products for health, ethical, and environmental reasons. However, there is also a more flexible plant-based approach, like the flexitarian diet, a method that allows moderation of eating animal products.


How it works

There are many types of vegetarianism, but most involve eliminating all meat, poultry and fish. Some vegetarians may also avoid eggs and dairy products.

The vegan diet goes a step further by restricting all animal products and animal products, including dairy products, gelatin, honey, whey, casein and albumin. There are no clear-cut rules for the flexitarian diet, as it’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. It encourages eating mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, but allows for protein and animal products in moderation, making it a popular alternative.


Blood sugar control

Managing blood sugar using plant-based diets is powerful. Fiber and plant proteins limit a carb's ability to rapidly raise blood sugars. Plant based foods are more filling, so one eats less, and they are lower in calories.


Weight loss

Twelve studies (1,151 participants) showed that people on plant-based diets lost an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) more than those who consumed animal products. Eating a vegan diet lost an average of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) more than those who did not eat a plant-based diet. Like blood sugar control, plant-based diets help weight loss, as they are rich in fiber and high-quality plant proteins, which help you stay fuller longer and low calorie.

Other benefits


Plant-based diets have been linked to many other benefits, including reduced risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes. They can also be more environmentally sustainable than meat-based diets.


Advisory

Although plant-based diets are healthy, they can limit important nutrients typically found in animal products, such as iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. This is typically addressed through supplementation or adopting a flexitarian diet.


Low-carb diets are among the most popular diets for weight loss. Examples include the Atkins diet, ketogenic (keto) diet, and low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet.


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Low Carb Diets



Low-carb diets are popular for weight loss. Examples include the Atkins diet, ketogenic (keto) diet, and low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet.


Some varieties reduce carbohydrates more dramatically than others. For example, very low-carb diets, including keto, limit carbs to less than 10% of total calories, compared to 30% or less for other types.


How it works

Low-carb diets limit your carbohydrate intake for protein and fat. They’re typically higher in protein than low-fat diets, which is important, as protein can help curb your appetite, raise your metabolism, and conserve muscle mass. In very low-carb diets like keto, your body begins burning fat for energy, since and uses fatty acids rather than carbs for energy by converting them into ketones. This process is called ketosis.


Blood sugar control

Low carb diets were and to a degree the gold standard in BG control. It's what the medical community knew. And yes, it still works terrific but there are many other alternatives out there.


Weight loss

Many studies indicate low-carb diets can aid weight loss and may be more effective than conventional low-fat diets.


For example, a review of 53 studies with 68,128 participants found low-carb diets significantly increased weight loss than low-fat diets. Moreover, low-carb diets appear successful in burning harmful belly fat.


Other benefits

Research suggests low-carb diets may significantly reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and blood pressure. People with type 2 diabetes may also improve blood sugar and insulin levels.


Advisory

A low-carb diet may raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in some cases. Very low-carb diets can also be difficult to follow and cause digestive upset in some people. In extreme situations, following a very-low-carb diet may cause ketoacidosis.


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Paleo


The Paleo diet advocates eating the same foods as our hunter-gatherer ancestors allegedly ate. Proponents believe modern diseases are linked to the Western diet, as they believe the human body hasn't evolved to process legumes, grains, and dairy.


How it works

The Paleo diet advocates eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds. It restricts the consumption of processed foods, grains, sugar, and dairy.


Blood sugar control:

As the Paleo diet eliminates typical indulgence foods, including desserts, pizza, french fries, sweetened drinks, etc., people who follow the plan often have improved blood sugar levels and can drop a few pounds. However, these gains are likely to be the result of less processed, nutrient-poor, and high-calorie foods, and not so much of the specific Paleo plan. In other words, cutting out junk, no matter which diet you follow, will help improve glucose levels.


Weight loss

The Paleo diet can aid weight loss and reduce harmful belly fat. In one study, healthy adults following a paleo diet lost an average of 5.1 pounds (2.3 kg) and reduced their waist circumference by an average of 0.6 inches (1.5 cm).


Other Benefits

The paleo diet may be more filling than the Mediterranean diet and low-fat diets, due to its high protein content. The paleo diet may reduce several heart disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.


Advisory

Though the paleo diet is healthy, it restricts several nutritious food groups, including legumes, whole grains, and dairy. These can be counteracted with supplements.


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Low-fat diets


Like diets with low carbohydrate intake, diets with low fat intake have been popular for decades. In general, a low-fat diet requires limiting your fat intake to 30% of your daily calories. Some diets with low and ultra-low fats aim to limit fat consumption to under 10% of calories.


How it works

Low-fat diets limit fat intake, as fat provides about twice as many calories per gram as the other two macronutrients, protein, and carbohydrates. Ultra-low-fat diets contain less than 10% of fat calories, with about 80% of calories coming from carbohydrates and 10% from protein.


Blood sugar control

There is not much research on low-fat diets and type 1 glycemic control. Those focused on type 2 diabetes. Most of those studies concluded that low fat diets don't significantly impact blood sugar control.


Weight loss

Research has found that following a low-fat diet resulted in small but relevant changes in weight and waist circumference. However, although low-fat diets appear as effective as low-carb diets for weight loss in controlled situations, low-carb diets appear more effective day to day.


Other benefits

Low-fat diets have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. They may also reduce inflammation and improve markers of type 2 diabetes.


Advisory

Reducing too much fat can lead to long-term health problems, as fat plays a key role in hormone production, absorption of nutrients and cell health. In addition, low-fat diets are linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.


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The Mediterranean diet


The Mediterranean diet is based on common foods consumed by people in the Mediterranean region. Many studies indicate it can also aid weight loss, despite being designed to lower heart disease risk.


How it works

The Mediterranean diet favors eating many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, whole grains, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil. Poultry, eggs, and dairy products should be eaten in moderation. The eating of red meats is discouraged. The diet restricts highly processed foods, such as refined grains, trans fats, refined oils, processed meats, added sugar, etc.


Blood sugar control

Studies suggest the Mediterranean diet is one of the best for blood sugar control and lower A1Cs. It also offers significant additional benefits: improved cardiovascular health, weight loss and improved cholesterol.


Weight loss

A Mediterranean-style diet aids weight loss, though it's not specifically a weight loss diet. Research has shown that people who combined a Mediterranean diet with exercise or calorie restriction lost an average of 8.8 pounds (4 kg) more than those on a control diet.


Other benefits

Foods in the diet are rich in antioxidants known to combat inflammation and oxidative stress. It is linked to reduced risk of heart disease and premature death.


Advisory

The Mediterranean diet is not a weight loss diet per se, so there may be additional dietary changes to achieve your weight loss goals.


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The DASH diet


DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is an eating plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). It focuses on eating many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. It's low in salt, red meat, sugar and fat. Many people report losing weight on it, but it’s not a weight loss diet.


How it works

The diet recommends specific servings of different food groups. Numbers of servings depends on your daily calorie intake. A typical user of the DASH diet would eat about 5 servings of vegetables, 5 servings of fruit, 7 servings of healthy carbs, such as whole grains, minimal nuts and seeds, 2 servings of low-fat dairy products, and 2 servings or fewer of lean meat per day.


Blood sugar control

This diet promotes a little more than half of daily calories from carbohydrates. While that might work for some people, it is a significant amount of carbohydrate for a T1 or T2 if you are not eating a largely plant-based diet. If you need a DASH diet, it is possible to change it to meet your BG goals.


Weight loss

Research has shown that people on the DASH diet lost significantly more weight over 8–24 weeks than people on a control diet.

Other benefits


The DASH diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure and several risk factors for heart disease. It can also help combat recurrent depressive symptoms and reduce your risk of breast and colorectal cancer.


Advisory

While the DASH diet may aid weight loss, there is mixed evidence on salt intake and blood pressure. In addition, eating too little salt has been linked to increased insulin resistance and an increased risk of death in people with heart failure.


Diabetes Fit Rating




The diet you choose must meet your short and long-term goals. However, diabetics also need to factor in blood sugar control. Make sure you consider your lifestyle and food preferences, because if you do not, it will decrease the likelihood of maintaining the diet.

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