Low(er) Carbohydrate Eating Patterns in Diabetes Management

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Nutrition Master Class

A low carbohydrate eating approach can thus be one of many tools we can use to manage postprandial blood glucose rises.

However, no single ratio of carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake is optimal for every person with diabetes. The ideal amount and proportion of any macronutrient including carbohydrate for an individual will depend on many factors including their level of physical activity, amount of central/visceral/ectopic fat, insulin sensitivity and lifestyle.

Many health care professionals are cautious to embrace a ‘low’ carbohydrate approach to eating due to the controversial use of high saturated fat ‘diets’ often promoted by the media. Such approaches are marketed as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cure which may leave many people worse off and more disheartened. Individualisation and nutritional support suffer as such ‘fad’ approaches are typically not under the guidance of a registered dietitian, resulting in a short-lived attempt with poor outcomes.

The American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes have endorsed low carbohydrate eating patterns as one of the recommended dietary patterns for the management of hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetes. Their approach was based on a low carbohydrate Mediterranean eating pattern and the fats used were unsaturated. The guideline focus was not on carbohydrate restriction but on the quality of carbohydrates where sources containing naturally occurring sources of dietary fibre are preferred. Minimally processed high fibre carbohydrates include whole fruits, whole and unprocessed grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds and nuts.

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