Low carb Paleo vs. Low fat whole food plant based diet?
I have been trying to figure out the best way to eat to keep my blood sugar stable. I’m pretty constantly on a roller coaster. I thought that a low carb Paleo diet would be the best way to go but then started reading about a low fat plant based diet that is not low carb. They claim this is the best way to eat for blood sugar. So I am confused about what to do. Does any one have any expirience/success with either one?
I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it but there is a book from a Dr. Bernstein. He discusses low carb eating. It’s very similar to paleo and keto but with a few differences. Anyway, I read the book and have started eating this way. It’s a lot of learning but is paying off tremendously. So far, my A1C has gone from 7.3 to 6.5. It’s still a work in progress for me but I’m getting there. I’ve not heard of the low fat plant based diet so I’m not sure on that one.
in my opinion, please beware of “they” when it comes to internet claims regarding the best way to eat or diabetes diets… many of the opinions out there refer to the treatment of type 2, which is much more common, and there can be a lot of general confusion as well.
for me, for the last 35+ years with t1, high carb = high insulin = high potential for mistakes and or roller coaster rides.
low carb = low insulin = comparatively, low potential for mistakes. this is the “law of small numbers” and there isn’t much more to it than that. I do way better with small carb and medium fats, and my blood sugar flat-lines when I eat very low carbs but it can be hard to do.
maybe you do better with high carbs? If you do that’s awesome. you can always try something new and observe what happens. diabetes is a bit of a science experiment anyway. good luck!
My thought about “diet”, even for people with Type One, is to eat what your body NEEDS for an individual’s lifestyle – of course, with diabetes added into the mix balance between foods, activities and insulin must be maintained. As a general rule, keep overall health in mind when choosing foods.
During my 60 years living with T1D, I have been all over the board as far as amounts of insulin needed for my body to stay energized. In recent years as my sensitivity to insulin has become more sensitive, I’ve had increase my carbs [more than 225 grams per day] and decrease my insulin, average almost 21 units per day total; my pump standard pattern calls for 6.25 units per day if I keep the pump working for 24 hours. For about 15 years I kept my HB A1c between 5-9 and 6.1 – now at recommendation of two endocrinologists I try not to let my A1c drop below 6.5.
Bottom line Valerie Marie, choose the foods you enjoy and need to live a healthy and full life and experiment CAREFULLY with the insulin you need – and before and continuously after trying anything discuss plans with and get advice of knowledgeable medical professionals. I retired a half dozen years ago and can spend what ever time I want learning about my diabetes, and I’ve found that I can go without eating for full days, engage in normal activity and let my nine basal rates flow, without correction and my BG, checking every couple of hours, stays between 100 and 140.
Just to add a comment on Dr. Bernstein’s diet . . . I was a patient of his about 8 years ago, shortly after my diagnosis (at age 56). I really liked that he was Type 1 himself and knew firsthand how hard this disease is to manage. I learned a lot from him, and have been following his diet since then. I have lots of energy, much more than I had before I was diabetic and was pretty much living on carbs. And my A1c has never been higher than 5.4. So I’d say give it a try. It’s not always an easy diet to live with, but I find that the more I stick to it, the more stable my blood sugars are.
I was diagnosed type 1 in 1992 and struggled with the roller coaster of trying to eat low fat, like we learned in the 80s. I read Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution in 1999, and cried as I read through the testimonials: here was the common sense approach that never occurred to me! After all, it was only my carbs that were ‘costing’ me insulin, and I never knew insulin was a fat storing hormone.
I adopted his way of eating and almost instantly the roller coaster was over. My TDD went from 65 units of insulin a day to an average of 28 units. I lost 38 pounds in three and a half months. I felt great, never had food cravings, and figured I’d live that way forever.
But, life got in the way, I got married, started going out more, and believed I could eat ‘everything in moderation.’ So of course, the roller coasters returned, I regained weight, etc.
Now, I’m back to what I know works for me and my body. I’m eating foods I like and don’t feel deprived. Whenever I ‘splurge’ and eat off plan, I pay for it, so I’ve come to realize it’s just not worth it for me.
I don’t think all the low carb desserts, bread substitutes, and processed or packaged foods are the best choices, but they make a nice treat now and then.
I have also followed Bernstein’s diet for decades and it works. I have never needed much insulin, and the only time I run into trouble is if I eat an enormously fatty dish at a restaurant or party. My HbA1C’s are between 6.1 and 6.9. I use 24-30 units of insulin per day depending on what I eat. And I have been using that same amount of insulin for as long as I can remember (since 1975 at least).
My son stopped eating meat about three months ago and moved to a primarily plant based diet. Within two weeks his blood sugars stablized almost immediately. His A1C dropped an entire point at his last check. It’s been amazing and completely unanticipated.
The source of carbs for me is primarily non-starch veggies. So depending on how you define “low carb,” eating lots of non-starch veg could be low carb. Bernstein, I believe, say 30 carbs per day max including the non-starch veg. I do not count non-starch veggies, other than Brussels sprouts, which for some reason have an impact on my BG. Otherwise i eat the vegetables without limitation and without carb counting them. All other carbs I do consider. But again, the overwhelming majority of my carbs are the non-starch veg variety.
Which all goes to say, you can combine a low carb, vegetable diet or lifestyle and they can be one and the same. It depends on what works for you and how you define ‘low carb.’ I prefer the term ‘restricted carb’ meaning restriction of certain foods and food groups, as opposed to ‘low.’