Why are low-carb diets recommended for diabetics?

Published on December 8, 2017

I read that a low carb diet (like Atkins) can trigger ketosis and cause your body to burn fat for energy vs sugar. Therefore a very low carb diet is not recommended for diabetics. Yet an article on this site indicates very low carb diets are good for lowering blood sugar. Please explain which is correct.

Q: I read that a low-carb diet (like Atkins) can trigger ketosis and cause your body to burn fat for energy vs sugar. Therefore a very low-carb diet is not recommended for diabetics. Yet an article on this site indicates very low-carb diets are good for lowering blood sugar. Please explain which is correct.

A low-carb diet is an excellent way of eating for people with diabetes, in large part because of the switch to burning fat rather than sugar. When you cut carbs to about 50 or fewer grams per day, your blood sugar and insulin levels decrease. Your liver then increases production of ketones, which can be used by your brain and other organs as an energy source. This is referred to as nutritional ketosis, which isn't dangerous. By contrast, diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency that can occur in people with type 1 diabetes if they don't take enough insulin to control their blood sugar, regardless of what type of diet they eat.

This article provides guidance for following a healthy low-carb diet in those with diabetes or prediabetes: http://dlife.com/guide-healthy-low-carb-eating-diabetes-2/.

Answered By dLife Expert: Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian living in Southern California.

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