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Every week I receive questions. Whether in type 2 diabetes education or via our online community. One question that came up this week was ‘what is a low carb diet’? Sometimes we get so caught up in talking about things we forget some people might not know what we are saying.

Therefore, today I have made a video explaining what we mean when we say low carb diet. I’ve previously written a blog on the pros and cons of low carb diets which you can find here.

So what is a low carb diet. There is no true definition. This makes it difficult to assess their effectiveness but usually in type 2 diabetes we work off anywhere between 100-150g of carbohydrates per day.

Usually people only focus on starchy foods and forget you get carbohydrates in other places. This is one thing my diet plans focus on. I make sure your diet is healthy but within the recommended carbohydrate intakes.

Where are carbohydrates in your diet?

In the normal realms of a low carb diet people focus on the highest carb foods in your diet. These are starchy foods and sugary foods. However, carbs do exist elsewhere. Legumes such as beans, pulses, lentils and chickpeas contain about a quarter to a third of the starch as truly starchy foods. Fruit obviously provides natural sugar but again compared to most starchy foods and processed sugar foods it has a low carb content. Vegetables and salad are technically carb containing foods but have a very small amount in them. Finally, some milk sugars found in milk (obviously) and yogurt add a small amount of carb into your diet.

Transitioning to a low carb diet

Therefore, a low carb diet is one that focuses on eating lots of the lower carb and no carb foods. This can exist in lots of different formats. Some low carb diets like the keto diet (blog found here on keto diets) recommend eating very low levels of carbs and therefore most of the diet is made up of protein like meat, fish, eggs and nuts and fats. There’s little scope in this diet for fruits or vegetables and definitely not for starch or sugar.

On the other hand, other forms of a low carb diet recommend eating lots of vegetables, legumes and salad. Portion controlling the fruits in your diet along with being careful with starch and sugar. This is similar to our type 2 recovery programme (found here). It also represents the general dietary advice for type 2 diabetes.

Dietary effect

In type 2 diabetes, carbohydrates are the foods in your diet that effect your glucose levels. This is why we try to reduce the amount you eat. This doesn’t mean you have to cut them out entirely. If you choose healthier versions of carbs such as wholegrain, oats, wholemeal, vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses and lentils these help to improve type 2 diabetes outcomes and prevent getting the disease in the first place.

When we ask ‘what is a low carb diet’, keep in mind, not all carbs are the same. If you eat processed foods like white bread, white rice/pasta, processed breakfast cereals, sugar, these may need to be limited even further. This is because they are quickly absorbed into the body and therefore can spike glucose levels even further. If you’re interested in the effect of different carbohydrate foods on glucose levels check out our blog on the glycaemic index here.

If you reduce the starch in your diet, you don’t just want to eat less either. This could leave you feeling hungry. If you are reducing the carbs in your diet, make sure you replace what you have lost with other foods. Foods like vegetables and lean proteins (poultry, reduced far mince, lean steaks, fish) to help lower your calorie and carb intake.

This helps keep you satisfied and not fighting hunger because believe you will lose that battle.

Need more help

If you need more support we offer a range of 1:1 consultancy services and online programmes focused on helping you improve your glucose control and health for the long term. These include our type 2 diabetes recovery programme, type 1 glucose stability programme and winning weight loss programme. Go to the pages using the links above or in the headers or get in touch if you have questions.