7 Reasons Why You Should Consider Eating Low Carb

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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.


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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 adults are directed to consume at least 130 grams per day, according the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. My own target is fewer than 50 grams per day.


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Reason 1: Manage diabetes

Diabetes causes 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 proponent 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.


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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 88 percent of American adults with diabetes are overweight or obese, which 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.


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Reason 3: Avoid unnecessary medications

All drugs can have side effects, and the pills people take to manage type 2 diabetes are no exception. The herbal supplements that some people chose to take instead of prescriptions also can have side effects but they are often not studied well. Any efforts to lose weight and manage blood sugar in a healthy way can potentially reduce your needs for medication and reduce unnecessary side effects as a result.


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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. Limiting gluten in your diet, primarily from wheat but also from rye and barley, might help you lower your blood sugar.


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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).


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Reason 6: Improve your lipid levels

A low-carb diet may lead to a slightly better cholesterol profile, according to a 2012 meta-analysis. Participants' HDL (good) cholesterol went up while their LDL and triglyceride levels went slightly down.


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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 might not only feel better but you might also gain all these other benefits. With better blood glucose, your doctor may even decide to stop prescribing diabetes drugs or reduce your dosages.


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Final thoughts

While research on the use of low-carb diets for diabetes is inconclusive, the American Diabetes Association recommends a diet that is limited in refined carbohydrates and added sugars with a focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products as the primary carbohydrate sources. If you have questions about how your carbohydrate intake, discuss your treatment with a registered dietitian, who can develop a meal plan for your unique nutritional needs.