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When you have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, weight control is a priority. But, when it comes to losing weight, what’s the best strategy – a low-fat or low-carb diet? The debate over carbohydrates continues to be a topic of controversy for researchers, physicians, dietitians and people with diabetes.
Some researchers believe that a low-carbohydrate diet is the best way to lose weight and keep blood glucose levels low. However, critics say many carbohydrate-containing foods, such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal and 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat bread, provide fiber and other important nutrients. Some argue it can be difficult to stick with a low-carb diet. In addition, low-carb diets may lead to eating foods that are higher in fat, including saturated and trans fats. Eating more saturated fats and trans fats can lead to higher cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
People with diabetes are at high risk for heart disease and stroke, and a low-fat diet can reduce high cholesterol and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, not all fats are bad. Consuming more monounsaturated fats – found in nuts, avocados and olive oil – than saturated or trans fats can actually help lower levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol.
So what’s the bottom line? There’s no one-size-fits-all diet for people with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourage people to eat a balanced diet consisting of lean meats, beans, low-fat dairy, whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables and whole fruits.
Consult with your physician and a registered dietitian who can review your specific needs and tailor a nutritional plan that will help you balance the amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your diet.