Low Carbohydrate Diet for Type 2 Diabetes

By Jason Fung, MD

What are Carbs? All foods are composed of three types of nutrients – carbohydrates (carbs), protein and fat. Carbs are chains of sugars, mostly glucose, and when eaten raise blood glucose (also called blood sugar). Proteins and fats, when eaten generally do not raise blood glucose. Carbs provide energy (calories) but no essential nutrients.

Target - < 50 grams carbohydrates per day

Why eat a Low Carbohydrate diet for type 2 diabetes? Carbohydrates, especially refined ones, raise the blood glucose more than other nutrients. Eating less carbs and more proteins and fats will naturally reduce your blood glucose and blood insulin levels. Insulin is a natural hormone produced by your body in response to food and tells the body to store some of the incoming energy (calories).

When your insulin levels are low, your body stops trying to store excess glucose and starts trying to burn some of the stored glucose for energy. This helps reduce blood sugars and body fat. This may help you reduce the medications you need for type 2 diabetes or even get into remission. The American Diabetes Association recommends both low carb and very low carb diets for type 2 diabetes.

Getting Started on a Low Carb Diet

What to Eat

  • Green/ non-starchy vegetables – eat as much as you like – broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, artichokes, mushrooms, tomato, eggplant, onion.

  • Proteins – eat freely – meat (beef, pork, lamb, fish), eggs. Limit processed meats like bologna, ham, sausages.

  • Natural Fat – eat freely – olive oil, avocados, coconut oils, full fat dairy.

What NOT to Eat

  • Added Sugars – Cut it out altogether.

  • Sugary drinks – Soda, fruit juices, iced teas and coffees, cocktails – cut out altogether and replace with water and tea.

  • Starchy carbohydrates – Eat as little as possible. No ‘white’ carbs like white bread, white potatoes, white rice’. Avoid breakfast cereals.

  • ‘Fat free’ foods – these usually have fat removed and sugar added.

  • Snacks – usually highly processed carbs such as biscuits, cookies, crackers.

  • Fruit – while natural, sweet fruits contain fructose, so minimize. Berries, apples and pears are a good choice.

On medication? Check with your doctor in case any medication adjustments are necessary.

Further Resources:

Dr. Jason Fung’s YouTube channel

Dr. Jason Fung’s blog at Medium.com

The Diabetes Code and The Diabetes Code Cookbook

Jason Fung, MD

Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.