The carnivore diet for diabetes management presents both promise and controversy. Just like most popular diets, many embark on it expecting radical change without putting in much effort. Unfortunately, the carnivore diet obeys the law of the jungle as aptly put by Rudyard Kipling; “and the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.” In short, there’s more than just feasting on meat; this article breaks down the carnivore diet for diabetics and why it may fail in the long run.
Diabetics struggle primarily with one issue which is blood sugar control. Consequently, the best diet for them should be one with low-carb but high energy. The carnivore diet appears to fit this tab pretty well, especially when you don’t spare your fatty meat. It would be better if you could spruce this up with some healthy veges, but the carnivore diet does not allow this. So what does the carnivore diet have to offer diabetics?
What Is A Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is a meat based diet that excludes all plant products. It typically consists of red meat, poultry, organ meats, processed meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, fish, and eggs. Some people also allow dairy such as cheese and spices.
It excludes plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. Unlike other popular low carb diets such as keto diet and paleo diet, the carnivore diet aims for zero carbs.
Starting on a carnivore diet involves eliminating carbohydrates gradually as you observe how your body reacts. The idea is to adapt to the change, without triggering a crash due to the absence of carbs. Once the body has settled in, patients can then push 30 days or even make this a lifestyle based on the improvements achieved.
What Are The Benefits Of A Carnivore Diet For Type 2 Diabetes?
In short the benefits of a carnivore diet are attached to the elimination of carbohydrates which are the enemies of your glucose levels. Diabetes management is actually an intricate carb-counting and sugar monitoring affair. With carbohydrates off the list, you have more control over your blood sugar levels among other benefits.
1. Weight Loss
The Carnivore Diet is more filling and may cause weight loss because you consume less food and fewer calories. In one study 132 adults with excess weight were put on 4 different energy-restricted diets. Results revealed that those who ate high-protein diets lost significantly more weight and fat mass than those who ate fewer proteins. Another 2009 study also showed that a protein diet produced sustained weight loss.
Weight loss has been strongly linked to diabetes reversal. A recent study showed that losing about 15 kgs of weight can help to revive beta cell function. Beta cells are the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Reviving dead or dormant beta cells can help in reversing diabetes. However, this approach works best for newly diagnosed cases of diabetes type 2.
Apart from this, sustained weight loss may reduce chances for diabetes related complications. However, weight loss can also be achieved through reducing calorie intake and through physical exercise as well.
2. Reduces Inflammation
The carnivore diet excludes processed foods such as cookies, cakes, candy, and pastries which are likely to trigger inflammation. These foods are loaded with empty calories and they easily spike glucose levels. This is why refined carbs and sugary foods are usually reduced or eliminated from a diabetic diet.
Inflammation increases insulin resistance as well as decrease insulin secretion. Reducing inflammation can help in reversing these symptoms of diabetes type 2.
Other benefits of a carnivore diet include:
- Less brain fog and fatigue
- Improved breathing
- Improved circulation
- Stabilization of glucose levels
Should you try the carnivore diet?
As much as there are many obvious benefits to the carnivore diet, you need to consult with your healthcare expert before trying it out. There are a few concerns that may dissuade one from recommending the carnivore diet for diabetes which include:
- The risk for hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia generally means low blood sugar levels. A person with diabetes type 2 usually has overproduction of insulin in the initial stages, even if they have reduced sensitivity to insulin. By taking a diet that completely eliminates carbohydrates; the patient is at risk of having hypoglycemia. Should this happen, the person may need to consume a fast-acting carbohydrate to get their blood sugar levels up again.
- Carnivore diet does not offer fiber
Fiber adds bulk to stool and this helps in preventing constipation. The carnivore diet can easily cause chronic constipation as it does not contain fiber.
Fiber is also important for the proper balance of healthy microbiota in the gut. An imbalance in gut microbiota can trigger chronic inflammation and insulin resistance as well.
In summary, there are lots of benefits that one can achieve from the carnivore diet. However, one needs to seek expert opinion before they adopt this diet for long term. Up to date there are no clinical studies that have investigated the long term benefits of a carnivore diet.
1. NCBI (2009): A moderate-protein diet produces sustained weight loss and long-term changes in body composition and blood lipids in obese adults. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19158228
2. Science Alert (2019): Type 2 Diabetes Can Be Reversed Even Without Intensive Weight Loss, Study Shows. Retrieved from https://www.sciencealert.com/type-2-diabetes-can-be-reversed-even-without-intensive-weight-loss-research-shows
3. NCBI (2014): Targeting inflammation in diabetes: Newer therapeutic options. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4138593/
4. NCBI (2016): Randomised clinical trial: mixed soluble/insoluble fibre vs. psyllium for chronic constipation. Retrieved from Randomised clinical trial: mixed soluble/insoluble fibre vs. psyllium for chronic constipation.