Thursday, November 4, 2010

High-Fat, No-Fat, Low-Fat and Type 2 Diabetes

If there's any area of diabetes care that is clearly confusing, it's the question of how much fat is best in the diabetic diet. Although every diet has its true believers, the fact is, different diets work for different people in different ways. Here are the basics.

High-fat diets are the traditional way of treating type 2 diabetes, and they are still the standard recommendation for diabetics who have advanced kidney failure. The advantage on relying on fats for energy is that they can be burned without insulin. If your body makes little or essentially no insulin, then this is one way to go.

The disadvantage of high-fat diets probably isn't what you think. It's not that they will make you fat. Weight gain has more to do with how much you eat than what you eat.

The problem with high-fat diets is keeping your brain going. Your body has to have at least a little carbohydrate every day for "brain fuel," although it can make glucose out of protein provided you don't already have kidney or liver disease. You won't feel very good, however, if protein and fat are all you eat.

No-fat diets are one modern way of treating type 2 diabetes. There really are many people who reverse their diabetes by following a vegan raw foods diet absolutely devoid of added fat. These diets work for people who have at least little remaining insulin production. When the insulin the body is still able to make isn't busy storing both sugar and fat, then it's enough to keep blood sugar levels down.

If you really have zero insulin production, however, even algae smoothies and alfalfa sprouts are going to raise your blood glucose levels. No-fat isn't for everyone. Surprisingly, people who commit themselves to the vegan raw foods lifestyle usually do manage to stick to the program and stay well--until that first time they fall off the wagon.

Low-fat diets are the best option for most diabetics. Low-fat does not necessarily mean high-carb. This way of eating emphasizes getting some fat at every meal, and no "fast" carbs. No potatoes, no bread, no crackers, no desserts. You still get carbs from non-starchy vegetables and the occasional piece of fruit but you don't eat lots of fat and lots of carbohydrate at the same time. Letting your insulin handle either fat or carb but not lots of both usually works--as long as you don't eat too much.

And that's the thing about any kind of diabetes diet. It's not all about what you eat. It's primarly about how much you eat. Eating the right percentage of fat for you isn't enough. You also have to eat the right amount. Whether you eat high-fat, no-fat, or low-fat, you still can't eat too much. But the way to know for sure that your diet is working for you is from the numbers, on the scale, and on your glucometer.

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