effect of a very low-carb diet on type 1 diabetes, road sign with low carb zone and image of food

Are you curious of the effect of a very low-carb diet on type 1 diabetes? Members of the Facebook group TypeOneGrit recently experimented with a very low-carb diet (VLCD) and they studied the effect on those with type 1 diabetes. While this wasn’t a clinical trial with a control group and experimental group, the findings were published in the journal Pediatrics and outlined the effects of a VLCD on children with type 1 diabetes.

About the diet

Participants of this experimental diet ate an average of 36 grams of carbs per day. To put this into perspective, a non-diabetic person will typically eat 225-325 grams of carbs in a day. Instead of filling their diet with carbs, the participants ate large amounts of protein found in meats and vegetables.

This diet was devised by Dr. Richard Bernstein, an 84-year-old physician with type 1 diabetes. In his book Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution, he explains the way fewer carbs help stabilize blood sugar and prevent blood sugar spikes and dangerous lows. He recommends supplementing the diet with foods like non-starchy vegetables, seafood, nuts, meat, yogurt and recipes made with almond flour and sugar substitutes.

About 80 percent of participants reported being pleased with how much control they had over their blood sugar levels, and the average HbA1c fell from 7.15 percent to 5.67 percent.

Dangers

Although the participants of this experiment found success with this diet, doctors generally don’t recommend a VLCD for children with type 1 diabetes. This diet carries dangers, specifically hypoglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis. Hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels reach dangerous lows and can cause excess sweating, lightheadedness, and mental confusion.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious medical condition where the body breaks down fat for energy and floods the bloodstream with a toxic acid called ketones. Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include nausea, abdominal pain, weakness, shortness of breath, and confusion. If you suspect that you have diabetic ketoacidosis, seek medical care immediately.

If you’re interested in adopting a very low-carb diet for management of type 1 diabetes, consult with your doctor first.

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Kayla Pearce is a Content Developer at Diabetic Nation in Memphis, TN. She has backgrounds in professional and creative writing and over a decade of experience in research and editing. She is deeply interested in literature, poetry, cats, and dessert.