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Atkins Diet and Diabetes Mellitus (Type 1 and 2)

Atkins Diet and Diabetes

The Atkins Diet is a low-carb diet. It is one of the best dietary regimens for people with diabetes. It emphasizes avoiding junk foods and processed foods.

What is Atkins Diet?

The Atkins diet is a weight loss diet that dates back to the early 1970s. This diet was created with the idea that carbohydrates, not fats, cause weight gain and that limiting carbohydrates causes a significant reduction in body weight.

It mainly focuses on balancing macronutrients to avoid the typical refined carb diets that are being increasingly used worldwide. This diet emphasizes an increased intake of whole grains and nutrient-dense foods instead of processed and junk food.

The Atkins diet is mainly composed of three types Atkins 20, 40, and 100. These names represent the daily carbohydrate amount that is allowed in each one. Then each type is divided into four stages:

  • The Induction Phase:

This phase lasts for the first 2 weeks and carbohydrates are limited to less than 20g/day. This low-carb intake is balanced with high protein and fat intake.

  • The Balancing Phase:

In this phase, carbohydrates are reintroduced to the body slowly and gradually starting with nuts, small amounts of fruits, and vegetables.

  • The Tuning Phase:

at this stage, you get close to the goal weight and increased carbohydrate intake to initiate weight maintenance.

  • The Maintenance Phase:

At this stage, a normal diet with healthy carbs is initiated to maintain weight in a healthy range.

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Why is The Atkins Diet Considered Good for Diabetes?

Very low-carb diets, such as the Atkins diet, cause rapid weight loss and blood sugar balance. It is considered beneficial for diabetes because obesity is the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and it is quickly eliminated by following such diets. Another advantage is improved glycemic control.

Low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet, cause ketosis, a state in which the body uses fat stores for energy rather than glucose.

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Is Atkins Diet different from The Keto Diet?

The Atkins diet is similar to the keto diet; the only difference is that the Atkins diet includes a high protein intake that traditional ketogenic diets do not. Moreover, keto diets do not include any specific phases.

Health Benefits of the Atkins Diet and Diabetes:

The Atkins Diet’s eating plan can help prevent or improve severe health conditions like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

In fact, nearly any diet that aids in weight loss can reduce or even reverse risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

One of the main advantages of the Atkins diet for diabetics is that it allows them to control their carbohydrate intake.

Most diabetic medications continue to increase weight gain and stimulate appetite, making it difficult to lose weight when following a standard diet.

Weight loss plays a major role in treating or preventing diabetes. Diabetics face insulin resistance which causes a rapid rise and fall in their sugar levels. The Atkins diet limits carb intake, which ultimately results in reduced glucose in the body.

The diet primarily focuses on limiting added sugars and allowing only foundation vegetables, this way it might reduce the reliance on glucose-lowering medications.

In fact, when you begin Atkins, you should work closely with your doctor to adjust your dose. The need for blood sugar-lowering medication will rapidly diminish.

According to one study people who followed a low-carb diet experienced better glycemic control, lower triglyceride levels, and low hbA1c ranges. [Ref]

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Health Risks of the Atkins Diet and Diabetes:

Energy restriction and weight loss are among the best predictors of improved outcomes in people with type 2 diabetes, and there are a variety of strategies for achieving this, with no clear indication of the superiority of low carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet.

Much of the Atkins diet’s beneficial effect is due to significant weight loss, which may reappear after the diet is discontinued.

Another point of contention is the excessive restriction of carbohydrates. Not all carbohydrates are bad; in fact, some are beneficial. And, by restricting carbs to such dangerous levels, you also restrict beneficial nutrients and fiber.

Fiber is the primary substance that maintains gut microflora, and a lack of fiber disrupts gut health, altering nutrient absorption. This effect may raise blood sugar levels rather than lower them.

Very low-carb diets are also known to increase the risk of heart disease due to an increased daily intake of saturated fat, and low fiber intake even adds more to the misery

The high protein ratio in the Atkins diet might also add extra load on the kidneys.

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The Atkins Diet isn’t Perfectly Safe for Everyone with Diabetes

The Atkins diet is not suitable for everyone. If you take diuretics, insulin, or oral diabetes medications this diet might be harmful,

The Atkins Diet recommends that you consult with your doctor before beginning the diet. People with severe kidney disease should also avoid the diet. Furthermore, the diet’s weight-loss phases are not appropriate for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

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The Atkins diet might be good for diabetics as it causes faster weight loss, but there are no studies that prove its safety for long-term use.

Moreover, it is a highly restrictive diet that might leave you with several vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Consult with your doctor or dietitian before starting the diet.

A balanced diet rich in whole grains, low GI foods, vegetables, essential fats, and a moderate amount of lean protein, combined with regular physical activity, is the most effective way to combat diabetes and other chronic diseases.

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Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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