Category Archives: Low-Carb

Meet Dr. Priyanka Wali, Low-Carb Diet Advocate (interviewed by Ivor Cummins)

Dr. Wali is an internist in San Francisco. In her medical practice, she saw first-hand how standard “diabetic diets” weren’t helping her patients and many others who have carbohydrate intolerance. Welcome to the club, Dr. Wali!

PS: She’s also a good stand-up comedian,which is rare for an internist.


Professor Tim Noakes: A Nutrition Heretic and His Low-Carb Epiphany

Paleo-compliant low-carb meal. I almost used this for my Paleobetic Diet book cover.

Paleo-compliant low-carb meal. I almost used this for my Paleobetic Diet book cover.

“I argue that the very reason we are facing an uncontrollable global diabetes/obesity pandemic at the moment, is because we have promoted dietary guidelines that are based solely on “evidence” from associational studies without acknowledging that RCTs [randomized controlled trials] have either not supported those conclusions or might have actively disproved them.

The solution in my mind is that we need to give dietary advice to persons with diabetes, T2DM [type 2 diabetes] especially, based on our understanding of the underlying patho-physiology of the condition, not on false information provided by associational epidemiological studies that are unable to prove causation.  I suggest that we know a number of features of the abnormal biology of T2DM with absolutely certainty.”

—Tim Noakes


It’s the Carbs, Not Saturated Fat: Food consumption and the rate of cardiovascular diseases in 42 European countries 




The idea that heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases are caused by dietary saturated fats is losing credibility. I lost faith in that theory in 2009.

Instead, cardiovascular disease is now linked to high consumption of carbohydrates, particularly those carbs that are rapidly absorbed and turned into blood sugar.

Unfortunately, the diet that reduces risk of cardiovascular disease may increase your risk of cancer. Keep reading.

If you’re a nutrition science nerd, here’s a pertinent report from researchers at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic:

“The results of our study show that high-glycaemic carbohydrates or a high overall proportion of carbohydrates in the diet are the key ecological correlates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. These findings strikingly contradict the traditional ‘saturated fat hypothesis’, but in reality, they are compatible with the evidence accumulated from observational studies that points to both high glycaemic index and high glycaemic load (the amount of consumed carbohydrates × their glycaemic index) as important triggers of CVDs. The highest glycaemic indices (GI) out of all basic food sources can be found in potatoes and cereal products, which also have one of the highest food insulin indices (FII) that betray their ability to increase insulin levels.The role of the high glycaemic index/load can be explained by the hypothesis linking CVD risk to inflammation resulting from the excessive spikes of blood glucose (‘post-prandial hyperglycaemia’). Furthermore, multiple clinical trials have demonstrated that when compared with low-carbohydrate diets, a low-fat diet increases plasma triglyceride levels and decreases total cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol, which generally indicates a higher CVD risk. Simultaneously, LDL-cholesterol decreases as well and the number of dense, small LDL particles increases at the expense of less dense, large LDL particles, which also indicates increased CVD risk. These findings are mirrored even in the present study because cereals and carbohydrates in general emerge as the strongest correlates of low cholesterol levels.

In light of these findings, the negative correlation of refined sugar with CVD risk may seem surprising, but the mean daily consumption of refined sugar in Europe is quite low (~84 g/day), when compared with potato and cereal carbohydrates (~235 g/day), and makes up only ~20% of CA energy. Refined sugar is also positively tied to many animal products such as animal fat and total fat and animal protein, and negatively to % PC CARB energy and % CA energy. Therefore, a high consumption of refined sugar is accompanied by a high consumption of animal products and lower intakes of other carbohydrates. Furthermore, the glycaemic index of refined sugar (sucrose) is rather moderate (~65).”

Source: Food consumption and the actual statistics of cardiovascular diseases: an epidemiological comparison of 42 European countries | Grasgruber | Food & Nutrition Research

Elsewhere in this long article:

“Current rates of cancer incidence in Europe are namely the exact geographical opposite of CVDs. In sharp contrast to CVDs, cancer correlates with the consumption of animal food (particularly animal fat), alcohol, a high dietary protein quality, high cholesterol levels, high health expenditure, and above average height. These contrasting patterns mirror physiological mechanisms underlying physical growth and the development of cancer and CVDs. The best example of this health paradox is again that of French men, who have the lowest rates of CVD mortality in Europe, but the highest rates of cancer incidence. In other words, cancer and CVDs appear to express two extremes of a fundamental metabolic disbalance that is related to factors such as cholesterol and IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor).”

I wish these researchers had looked at over death rates associated with various ways of eating. Perhaps that will be in a future paper.

I’d rather die of a heart attack than cancer.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Official Diabetic Diet Takes a Hit in the U.K. has a few of the details. A snippet:

More than 120,000 people signed up to a ‘low-carb’ diet plan launched by the forum in a backlash against official advice.
More than 80,000 of those who ditched a low-fat high-carbohydrate diet found their blood glucose level drop after ten weeks.
By rejecting official guidelines and eating a diet high in protein and low in starchy food – along with ‘good saturated fats like olive and nuts – more than 80 per cent of the patients said they had lost weight.

An article at The Times says, “The results have led doctors to call for an overhaul of official dietary guidelines.”

Regular readers here won’t be surprised by these findings.

The road to this revolution is paved with scientific studies showing that dietary saturated fat has little or nothing to do with causing cardiovascular disease. I crossed that Rubicon in 2009.

If you want the benefits of low-carb eating, check out my free Paleobetic Diet. The book is even better.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you think carbs are bad, my books have zero digestible carbs. Unless you’re a termite.

Paleobetic Diet-FrontCover_300dpi_RGB_5.5x8.5

Increase in consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar may have led to the health decline of the Greenland Eskimos 

Not much edible carbohydrate this time of year...

Not much edible carbohydrate this time of year…

From Dr. James Dr. DiNicolantonio:

“In conclusion, an increase in the intake of refined carbohydrate and sugar paralleled the rise in atherosclerotic disease in the Greenland Eskimos. While the total carbohydrate intake of the Greenland Eskimos was just 2–8% of total calories in 1855, this increased to around 40% of calories by 1955.5 The Greenland Eskimos studied by Bang and Dyerberg in the 1970s no longer consumed a traditional healthy Eskimo diet. Indeed, the intake of refined sugar in the Greenland Eskimos increased by almost 30-fold from 1855 (6 g/person/day or around 1½ teaspoonful of sugar) to the 1970s (164–175 g or around 40–44 teaspoonful of sugar). Moreover, the intake of refined carbohydrate increased 5–7-fold from 1855 (18 g/day from bread) to the 1970s (84–134 g/day from bread, biscuits and rye flour).

In summary, the intake of refined carbohydrate and sugar by the Greenland Eskimos increased in parallel to the rise in atherosclerotic disease. Considering that a similar event occurred in the USA and that the overconsumption of refined sugar is a principal driver of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease, this most likely explains the health decline of the Greenland Eskimos.”

Source: Increase in the intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar may have led to the health decline of the Greenland Eskimos — DiNicolantonio 3 (2) — Open Heart

Moderately Low-Carb Diet Beats Calorie-Restricted “Balanced” Diet in Overweight Japanese Type 2 Diabetes

This meal is low-carb, and probably low-calorie too

This meal is both low-carb and low-calorie

A randomized controlled clinical trial found superior results in diabetes with a low-carb diet, judging from weight loss and hemoglobin A1c.

I don’t know how many carbs the typical Japanese person eats in a day. In the U.S., it’s 250-300 grams. Here’s how the study at hand was done:

“This prospective, randomized, open-label, comparative study included 66 T2DM patients with HbA1c >7.5% even after receiving repeated education programs on Calorie-Restricted Dieting (CRD). They were randomly allocated to either the 130g/day Low-Carb Diet (LCD) group (n = 33) or CRD group (n = 33). Patients received personal nutrition education of CRD or LCD for 30 min at baseline, 1, 2, 4, and 6 months. Patients of the CRD group were advised to maintain the intake of calories and balance of macronutrients (28× ideal body weight calories per day). [If I understand correctly, a 170-lb (77.2 kg) person would be recommended to eat 2160 calories/day.] Patients of the LCD group were advised to maintain the intake of 130 g/day carbohydrate without other specific restrictions. Several parameters were assessed at baseline and 6 months after each intervention. The primary endpoint was a change in HbA1c level from baseline to the end of the study.

At baseline, body mass index (BMI) and HbA1c were 26.5 and 8.3, and 26.7 kg/m2 and 8.0%, in the CRD and LCD, respectively. At the end of the study, HbA1c decreased by −0.65% in the LCD group, compared with 0.00% in the CRD group (p < 0.01). Also, the decrease in BMI in the LCD group [−0.58 kg/m2] exceeded that observed in the CRD group (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that 6-month 130 g/day LCD reduced HbA1c and BMI in poorly controlled Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes. LCD is a potentially useful nutrition therapy for Japanese patients who cannot adhere to CRD.”

Source: A randomized controlled trial of 130 g/day low-carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes with poor glycemic control – Clinical Nutrition

The calorie-restricted diet did nothing for these folks in terms of glycemic  control.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: In case you’re wondering, the Paleobetic Diet reduces digestible carbs to 45-80 grams/day.


Dr. Jason Fung: How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes – The Quick Start Guide 

Dr. Fung is a nephrologist and huge advocate of intermittent fasting. He has an article over at DietDoctor that you may find interesting (link below). Beware: at the link you will find an accurate photo of a gangrenous foot that you may find nauseating or disturbing.

I see gangrene in the hospital once a month. It’s one of the things that keeps me motivated to help PWDs (people with diabetes) learn to conquer diabetes.

Another caveat. If you take drugs that have the potential to cause hypoglycemia, you may indeed suffer life-threatening hypoglycemia if you drastically cut back on sugar and other refined carbohydrates. You better know what you’re doing.

Dr. Fung writes:

“Once we understand type 2 diabetes, then the solution becomes pretty bloody obvious. If we have too much sugar in the body, then get rid of it. Don’t simply hide it away so we can’t see it. There are really only two ways to get rid of the excessive sugar in the body.

  1. Don’t put sugar in [nor refined starches]
  2. Burn it off

That’s it. That’s all we need to do. The best part? It’s all natural and completely free. No drugs. No surgery. No cost.”

Source: How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes – The Quick Start Guide – Diet Doctor

Is Insulin Making You Hungry All the Time?

So easy to over-eat!

So easy to over-eat! Is it the insulin release?

No, insulin probably isn’t the cause of constant hunger, according to Dr. Stephan Guyenet. Dr. G gives 11 points of evidence in support of his conclusion. Read them for yourself. Here are a few:

  • multiple brain-based mechanisms (including non-insulin hormones and neurotransmitters) probably have more influence on hunger than do the pure effect of insulin
  • weight loss reduces insulin levels, yet it gets harder to lose excess weight the more you lose
  • at least one clinical study (in 1996) in young healthy people found that foods with higher insulin responses were linked to greater satiety, not greater hunger
  • billions of people around the world eat high-carb diets yet remain thin

An oft-cited explanation for the success of low-carbohydrate diets involves insulin, specifically the lower insulin levels and reduced insulin resistance seen in low-carb dieters. They often report less trouble with hunger than other dieters.

Here’s the theory. When we eat carbohydrates, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high as we digest the carbohydrates. Insulin drives the bloodstream sugar (glucose) into cells to be used as energy or stored as fat or glycogen. High doses of refined sugars and starches over-stimulate the production of insulin, so blood sugar falls too much, over-shootinging the mark, leading to hypoglycemia, an undeniably strong appetite stimulant. So you go back for more carbohydrate to relieve the hunger induced by low blood sugar. That leads to overeating and weight gain.

Read Dr. Guyenet’s post for reasons why he thinks this explanation of constant or recurring bothersome hunger is wrong or too simplistic. I agree with him.

The insulin-hypoglycemia-hunger theory may indeed be at play in a few folks. Twenty years ago, it was popular to call this “reactive hypoglycemia.” For unclear reasons, I don’t see it that often now. It was always hard to document that hypoglycemia unless it appeared on a glucose tolerance test.

Regardless of the underlying explanation, low-carb diets undoubtedly are very effective in many folks. And low-carbing is what I always recommend to my patients with carbohydrate intolerance: diabetics and prediabetics.

Steve Parker, M.D.

front cover

front cover

One Man’s N=1 Experiment Comparing Lower- Versus Moderate-Carb Diet For His Diabetes

Use the search box to find the recipe for this low-carb avocado chicken soup

Use the search box to find the recipe for this low-carb avocado chicken soup

Read his amazingly detailed post at Diatribe. Adam, who has type 1 diabetes, figured out during his college days that eating no more that 30 grams of carbs at a time was “a complete gamechanger” for improving his blood sugars. He experimented on himself to see if there was a difference between his usual lower-carb diet (146 grams/day) versus 313 grams/day.

A quote:

To my utter surprise, both diets resulted in the same average glucose and estimated A1c. But there were major tradeoffs:

The higher-carb, whole-grain diet caused four times as much hypoglycemia, an extra 72 minutes per day spent high, and required 34% more insulin. (A less healthy high-carb diet would have been far worse.)

Doubling my daily carbs also added much more effort and produced far more feelings of exhaustion and diabetes failure. It was not fun at all, and the added roller coaster, or glycemic variation, from all the extra carbs made it more dangerous.

See more at:

I think the lower-carb approach is healthier over the long run. Check with your own healthcare provider before making any drastic change in your diabetic diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Paleobetic Diet-FrontCover_300dpi_RGB_5.5x8.5

Long-Term T2 Diabetes Diet Trial: Low-Carb Edges Out High-Carb Eating

Paleo-compliant low-carb meal. I almost used this for my Paleobetic Diet book cover.

Paleo-compliant low-carb meal. I almost used this for my Paleobetic Diet book cover.

This is an important report because most diet studies last much less than one year. Details are in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Study participants were 115 obese (BMI 35) type 2 diabetics with hemoglobin A1c averaging 7.3%. Average age was 58. So pretty typical patients, although perhaps better controlled than average.

They were randomized to follow for 52 weeks either a very low-carbohydrate or a high-carbohydrate “low-fat” diet. Both diets were designed to by hypocaloric, meaning that they provided fewer calories than the patients were eating at baseline, presumably with a goal of weight loss. The article abstract implies the diets overall each provided the same number of calories. They probably adjusted the calories for each patient individually. (I haven’t seen the full text of the article.) Participants were also enrolled in a serious exercise program: 60 minutes of aerobic and resistance training thrice weekly.

Kayaking is an aerobic exercise if done seriously

Kayaking is an aerobic exercise if done seriously

The very low-carb diet (LC diet) provided 14% of total calories as carbohydrate (under 50 grams/day). The high-carb diet (HC diet) provided 53% of total calories as carbohydrate and 30% of calories as fat. The typical Western diet has about 35% of calories from fat.

Both groups lost weight, about 10 kg (22 lb) on average. Hemoglobin A1c, a reflection of glucose control over the previous three months, dropped about 1% (absolute reduction) in both groups.

Compared to the HC diet group, the LC dieters were able to reduce more diabetes medications, lower their triglycerides more, and increase their HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”). These triglyceride and HDL changes would tend to protect against heart disease.


You can lose weight and improve blood sugar control with reduced-calorie diets—whether very low-carb or high-carb—combined with an exercise program. No surprise there.

I’m surprised that the low-carb group didn’t lose more weight. I suspect after two months of dieting, the low-carbers started drifting back to their usual diet which likely was similar to the high-carb diet. Numerous studies show superior weight loss with low-carb eating, but those studies are usually 12 weeks or less in duration.

diabetic diet, low-carb diet, paleobetic diet

Low-Carb Brian Burger and Bacon Brussels Sprouts (in the Paleobetic Diet)

The low-carb diet improved improved lipid levels that might reduce risk of future heart disease, and allowed reduction of diabetes drug use. Given that we don’t know the long-term side effects of many of our drugs, that’s good.

If I have a chance to review the full text of the paper, I’ll report back here.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Jeannie Tay, et al. Comparison of low- and high-carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes management: a randomized trial. First published July 29, 2015, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.115.112581    Am J Clin Nutr