Fit 5 on Friday: 5 Fad Diets and Diabetes

March 6, 2015By 0 Comments


untitled44March is National Nutrition Month, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has decided the theme this year is “Bite into a healthy lifestyle”.  With a focus on keeping healthy choices a priority throughout the entire year, and not just as part of a fading new years resolution. This motivating theme will be seen throughout the internet and social media in order to encourage honing in on overall health.  Consuming fewer calories, making activity a part of your everyday lifestyle, and disease prevention (for those of us that were hoping to not get diagnosed with any more chronic conditions).

I have decided to share with you, in the spirit of living a healthy lifestyle, the top 5 best and the top 5 worst fad diets, particularly for those of us with diabetes.  Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2, we are all still human and food portions, cravings, weight control and body image are just a part of life.  Here are the pros and cons to following any of these diets.  At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you and your family without putting your health, or your diabetes specifically, at a greater risk.

A great resource for this information was put out by U.S. News a few months ago.  It ranks the diets based on short/long-term weight loss, easy to follow, nutrition, safety, diabetes, and heart health.  When rearranging the columns based on overall, safety and diabetes, individually as measures of best and worst diets, here are the findings:

Top 5 BEST diets in regards to safety (*which included considerations such as malnutrition, overly rapid weight loss and contraindications for those with special health concerns or other diseases).

  1. The Dash Diet
  2. The Mediterranean Diet
  3. The TLC Diet
  4. Mayo Clinic Diet
  5. Volumetrics

Top 5 WORST diets in regards to safety:

  1. The Fast Diet
  2. Dukan Diet
  3. Paleo
  4. Atkins
  5. Raw Food Diet

Top 5 BEST diets as they related to diabetes management and prevention (type 2 specific):

  1. The Biggest Loser Diet
  2. The DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension)
  3. Engine 2 Diet
  4. Flexitarian Diet
  5. Mayo Clinic Diet

Top 5 WORST diets as they relate to diabetes management:

  1. Zone Diet
  2. Acide Alkaline Diet
  3. Paleo
  4. Dukan Diet
  5. Body Reset Diet

Top 5 Overall BEST Diets:

  1. The Dash Diet
  2. TLC Diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes)
  3. Mayo Clinic Diet
  4. Mediterranean Diet
  5. Weight Watchers

Top 5 WORST Overall Diets: You might as well call this entire sections the Hollywood diet…

  1. The Fast Diet
  2. Atkins
  3. Raw Food Diet
  4. Dukan
  5. Paleo

To read the full review of each individual diet, click here.  I will make some comments on a select list of the above diets to give you my educated opinion on them as they relate to diabetes management.

The Dash, TLC and Mayo diets in particular have been around for many years.  Their tried and true positive outcomes specifically for heart health and diabetes have been proven over and over again.  As for weight management, they aren’t necessarily the best, but for overall health, especially if you or someone you know has Type 2 diabetes, Pre-diabetes or a family history, these would be excellent diets to follow and implement.

The Mediterranean Diet and Weight Watchers have also been around for quite some time with proven health benefits.  The Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on a properly proportioned plate of mainly vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains, the recipes out there for this diet are bursting with flavor and health benefits.   Weight watchers is a winner time and time again due to not just its ability to balance health with allowing yourself room to enjoy some indulgences, but also to focus on support and a sense of community in many people’s efforts to lost weight and know they are not alone.  For people with diabetes, I would highly recommend the Mediterranean diet as it really lends to less erratic blood sugars and teaches natural healthy eating.  Weight watchers is also good for people with diabetes, however, you have to be careful not to choose too many indulgences for points over healthy, low-sugar/carb options, as that sort of defeats the purpose.

The other top diets, such as the Volumetrics, Flexitation and Engine 2 diet, I have personally never heard of (except for volumetrics) so I really can’t give an educated opinion on this.  I would just caution you not to spend all your money on one of these diets, and first research them on the internet, and you may find that something as tried and true as the Mediterranean diet or the Dash diet follow very similar patterns and suggestions with a few tweaks.  Some authors, celebrities and TV shows do take advantage of capitalizing on diet crazes and slapping a name on something that already exists (reinventing the wheel).

Now for the bad news.  Oh yes, we have probably all tried it at one point or another…taken out ALL the carbs in our diet to live off of cheese, chicken, bacon, steak, protein shakes, etc.  Whether its Atkins, Paleo, Dukan or some other neandrothol name, you will realize that as soon as you allow carbs to enter your body once again ALL that weight piles back on and then some.  The main source of energy for our bodies comes from carbohydrates/sugars.  When there are no carbs available, the body will burn fat for fuel…and THE KIDNEYs have to process this…thereby purposely making KETONES!  Do I need to say more diabetics? I hope not.  The brain needs roughly around 130 grams of carb per day to function properly.

It’s just silly.  Yes, it works if you are trying to fit into that wedding gown or for that 20 year high school reunion, but long-term there are no benefits to extremely high protein diets.  It is recommended that most adults do not consume more then 30% of their calories from protein.  These diets tend to be very high in saturated fats, or completely void of fats and calories in general.  They leave you feeling exhausted, moody and starving all the time (couple that with any high blood sugars, people with diabetes on a high protein diet are not to be reckoned with ).  There are ways to implement higher amounts of healthy proteins in your diet without completely eliminating carbohydrates.  But please see a dietitian so that you can get proper advice on this!

I must also mention the danger of such diets as the Raw Food Diet, and various diets that involve fasting or cleanses.  These are very dangerous, especially for people with diabetes.  These diets deplete your body of any glucose stores, putting you at higher risk for dangerous hypoglycemia.  They also lead to over-eating on the days that follow the fast or cleanse.

In summary, please be cautious about diet fads and always talk with your doctor, diabetes educator or dietitian about which diet makes the most sense for your blood sugar and/or weight loss goals.  I know no one really wants to hear this, but the best diet is a balanced, proper proportioned, and eating sweets in moderation…kind of diet.  It’s called healthy eating.  It can be hard for some, even expensive, or difficult if you have never been taught or didn’t grow up understanding much about proper nutrition.  Do the best you can, and remember that just being motivated to feel better and be better is half the battle! And also know…you need to incorporate some form of activity or exercise to really get all the benefits of healthy eating!

Just for your reading pleasure, take a look at this timeline of fad diets from the last 200 years!  It even includes “Bantings Low Carohydrate Diet” from 1863!





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