Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition For Dummies
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The Atkins Diet, surely the best-known low-carbohydrate weight loss plan, is based on a theory that excess weight is mostly related to excess carbohydrates. And this eating plan may be attractive to people with diabetes because the constant focus on carbohydrates in diabetes management plans could be interpreted to confirm the notion that carbs are inherently bad.

The Atkins plan, or other low carbohydrate diet, aims to switch your body into burning fat as an alternative to glucose, and as a weight loss strategy these diets are effective. The popularity of the Atkins plan skyrocketed in 2003, with nearly 10 percent of Americans gloating over the diet that required consumption of bacon and steak.

Sales of carbohydrate foods like rice and pasta plummeted, and food manufacturers began marketing low-carb versions of their standard products. The death of Dr. Robert Atkins from a fall in 2003, followed by autopsy results suggesting heart disease and high blood pressure, marked the beginning of the end to this frenzy.

The long-term health controversies surrounding this approach to weight loss are still unresolved, and a few of the concerns relate to diabetes. Some doctors, for instance, worry that high protein consumption over a long term eventually takes a toll on kidney function, and bone loss is another common concern.

In practice, the grand celebration over eating all the foods other diet plans look to minimize often gives way to craving the carbohydrates (and maybe other nutrients) you’ve been missing. This diet is usually not sustainable.

The meta-analysis included diets described as low carbohydrate and diets described as high protein. Whereas the extent of carbohydrate restriction didn’t always fall to Atkins standards, that analysis found neither a low-carbohydrate nor high-protein diet reduced A1C as much as the Mediterranean plan.

Extremely low-carbohydrate diets may be fun and effective as a weight loss option for healthy individuals over a short term, but adding diabetes to the mix is cause for concern. Considering that other dietary approaches are proven to effectively manage diabetes and associated health concerns, low-carbohydrate diets need more research to justify an endorsement for people with diabetes.

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Toby Smithson, RDN, CDE, has managed her own diabetes for more than 40 years, and founded DiabetesEveryDay.com to share her insights into diabetes self-management. Alan Rubin, MD, is the author of several successful diabetes books, including Diabetes For Dummies and Diabetes Cookbook For Dummies.

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