When US News released its annual report on the best diet plans for 2012, it included a special category for “Best Diabetes Diet.” A diabetes diet is intended to help patients with type 2 diabetes — or those diagnosed as pre-diabetic — to control their blood sugar levels and even reverse the disease completely so that they can go off their insulin or other medication.
Two of the diet plans that were ranked highest for type 2 diabetes patients were not specifically designed to treat the disease’s symptoms, but are generally geared towards anyone looking to lose weight. However, these diets feature low-calorie meal plans, a balanced combination of nutritious foods, and exercise recommendations that make them twice as productive regimens to avoid dangerous fluctuations in glucose levels, and even ultimately control diabetes to the point that people can go off their medications.
US News picks best weight loss plan for diabetics
One of the high-ranked diabetes diet programs was the Biggest Loser weight loss plan, based on the strategies employed on the popular reality TV show. The US News judges found that following the Biggest Loser diet would not only work towards preventing or reversing type 2 diabetes, but also reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s, and boost heart health. Such results are due to the diet’s emphasis on consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, while also requiring calorie control along with some form of regular exercise.
Another diet rated as useful for diabetes patients was the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which was created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) specifically for patients who need to reduce their risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Its main focus is to implement long-term healthy eating habits, urging the intake of calcium, potassium, fiber, and protein. The diet, especially in its “calorie deficit” version, has been demonstrated in studies to be effective in helping people lose weight, which alone is a major factor in decreasing overall blood sugar levels.
The Center for Medical Weight Loss: a doctor-supervised diabetes diet
The Biggest Loser and DASH diets may be highly ranked, and may help some reach their ideal weight, but it may be telling that on the US News website, far more users have rated both diets as unsuccessful, rather than successful. These negative ratings may be due to any number of circumstances, but the main culprit is likely that both Biggest Loser and DASH require dieters to manage their food selections, plan and prepare their weekly meals, and organize their exercise programs all by themselves. This can be a demanding task for people with busy schedules and demanding lifestyles.
Making these diet plans more problematic for diabetes patients is the fact that they need to be extra vigilant in checking their glucose levels, since reducing calories and increasing exercise activities can both cause sharp changes to blood sugar levels. Diabetes patients have the added challenge of managing a “weights and balances” system of diet & exercise to avoid spikes and drops in glucose.
For many diabetes patients, the best solution might be to follow the general principles outlined by the Biggest Loser and DASH diets, but to do so under the supervision of a physician who can design a personalized diet plan and modify it over time as progress is made, weight is lost, and sugar levels start to decrease.
The Center for Medical Weight Loss is among the largest groups of non-surgical weight loss specialists in the country. Founder and chief medical officer Dr. Michael Kaplan reports that, “We see diabetic patients all the time who lose weight and no longer need insulin. When patients lose 5% – 10% of their body weight, it is a given that they will reduce their blood sugar significantly; many no longer need medication.”
The added advantage of The Center for Medical Weight Loss system is that each patient is guided and supervised through the weight loss process by his or her own personal physician. Unique diet and exercise plans are designed based on each individual’s specific medical history, metabolism rate, body composition analysis (BCA), and weight loss goals.
The basic elements of a diabetes diet are shared by many weight loss plans: moderate carbs, cut down on sugars, increase fiber and unsaturated fats, while emphasizing lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and fruits. But for many patients, it can be a daunting task to carry out the program on their own. With a doctor’s supervision, however, positive results may be more likely.
The Center for Medical Weight Loss operates over 450 centers across the country. To find out if there is a center in your area, enter your zip code into the Find a Center box above. Special introductory offers are available for first-time visitors.