7 Reasons Why You Should Eat Low Carb

Patient Expert
View as:|
1 of 9

A low-carb diet has been renowned for more than 150 years for how much weight people can lose. Ever since 1864, when William Banting published his book “Letter on Corpulence,” this low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein diet has made it possible for many overweight people — myself included — to become slim. But it does much more.

What is a low-carb diet?

Most researchers consider a low-carb diet to include anywhere from 30 to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day. That’s a wide range, but most Americans consume about 300 grams per day, according to Jonny Bowden in his book “Living Low Carb.” My own target is fewer than 50 grams per day.

Reason 1: Manage diabetes

Diabetes is a disturbance of carbohydrate metabolism in which blood glucose rises above normal, Richard K. Bernstein, M.D., told me. The author of “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution” is an exponent of low-carb dieting for people with diabetes. He limits himself and his patients to six grams for breakfast and 12 grams each for lunch and dinner.

Reason 2: Lose weight

Almost all of us who have type 2 diabetes and even some people who have type 1 diabetes struggle with their weight. More than 85 percent of American adults with diabetes are overweight, and weighing too much makes managing blood glucose harder. I lost 142 pounds after starting to eat low-carb, but it took me about four and a half years.

Reason 3: Avoid diabetes drugs

All drugs can have side effects, especially pills people take to manage type 2 diabetes. The herbal supplements that some people chose to take instead of prescriptions also can have side effects because they are drugs in disguise. This is the price of managing diabetes, unless you have bariatric surgery or go on a starvation diet — or eat low carb.

Reason 4: Break your addiction

Carbohydrate, particularly wheat, can be can be addicting. Cardiologist William Davis, M.D., made the case in “Wheat Belly” that it’s a poison. Cut out all the gluten in your diet, primarily from wheat but also from rye and barley, for 30 days. This will be as hard at first as it is to stop smoking, but your blood glucose will thank you.

Reason 5: Reduce your blood pressure

A low-carb diet can be effective for lowering high blood pressure, or hypertension, which can lead to a stroke by damaging and weakening your brain's blood vessels. But a 2010 randomized trial found that a low-carb diet works better than a low-fat diet even when combined with the obesity drug orlistat (Xenical or Alli).

Reason 6: Improve your lipid levels

A low-carb diet typically leads to a better cholesterol profile, cutting your risk of heart disease, writes Jeff Volek, Ph.D., and Stephen Phinney, M.D., Ph.D., in “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.” HDL (good) cholesterol rises. LDL composition improves. And triglyceride levels usually drop quickly to normal.

Reason 7: Feel better

After following a low-carb diet continuously for a decade, I feel better than ever. But test it yourself. When you give low-carb eating a chance, you will not only feel better but you will also gain all these other benefits. With your better blood glucose, your doctor will be glad to stop prescribing diabetes drugs. You will be free at last.