Dr. Robert Atkins introduced the Atkins Diet in the 1970's and the guidelines were updated as recently as 2010. A low carbohydrate (low-carb) menu is the foundation of this diet. Dr. Eric Westman, a physician at Duke University in Durham, NC, strongly supports the Atkins Diet as a method for controlling diabetes, not just for weight loss.
How Does It Work?
Carbohydrates convert to sugar in the body. Insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to sugar intake, in an effort to keep the blood sugar level at an appropriate level. Reducing carbohydrate intake not only helps with weight management, it also helps with insulin production and insulin resistance in the body. Dr. Westman explains that it is the excessive carbohydrates that lead the body toward diabetes. The American Diabetes Association supports the low-carb diet, citing that modest weight loss is also linked to improved insulin resistance.
The Atkins Diet is integrated in four phases beginning with the induction phase, which incorporates strict carbohydrate restriction. It ends with with the lifetime maintenance phase. Throughout the diet, carbohydrate intake is reduced or eliminated. The diet eliminates bread, pasta, potatoes, cereal and other foods like yogurt, milk and fruit, which contain a high sugar content.
An Atkins Diet approved meal includes a serving of each of the following:
- Protein: fish, poultry, lean meat, eggs or cheese
- Non-starchy vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or mushrooms
- Fat: butter, olive oil, avocado, nuts, nut butter or bacon
Dr. Westman believes that low-carb diets can be more powerful than drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes. Changing your carbohydrate intake can impact your blood sugar and the amount of medication needed to keep it regulated, sometimes allowing you to stop taking medication to treat your diabetes. Always check with your primary care physician before starting a new diet so you can be safely monitored during the modification phase, and be sure you have support to stick with it.