Diabetes Canada publishes paper endorsing a low-carb option

ADA CEO fights diabetes with low-carb diet

As research supporting the benefits of low carb for diabetes continues to mount, this way of eating continues to find favor among mainstream diabetes organizations worldwide.

In April of 2019, The American Diabetes Association published a consensus report not only endorsing low carb as an option but also acknowledging that reducing carbohydrates is the most effective way to lower blood sugar, regardless of overall diet.

A short time earlier, Diabetes UK and Diabetes Australia also published reports that were favorable to low carb for people with diabetes.

Now, Diabetes Canada has released a paper supporting low-carb diets as an effective option for type 1 and type 2 diabetes management:

Canadian Journal of Diabetes: Diabetes Canada position statement on low carbohydrate diets for adults with diabetes: A rapid review

In their 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines, Diabetes Canada maintained its recommendation that people with diabetes should consume about 45-60% of their calories from carbs. This would be roughly 225-300 grams of carbs daily for someone eating about 2,000 calories a day.

But after reviewing the most up-to-date evidence and considering the recent shift in thinking among other diabetes organizations worldwide, Diabetes Canada is formally recognizing the benefits of low-carb diets for lowering blood sugar and managing weight.

One question people with diabetes — along with diabetes clinicians — may have is, “how low carb?” Admittedly, “low carb” is a pretty broad term. For some people, eating 130-150 grams of carbs per day might be considered low carb.

However, this report didn’t specify a minimum amount of carbs but limited the maximum amount to 130 grams. And the authors pointed out that very-low-carb diets (defined as less than 50 grams per day) may be particularly beneficial for those with diabetes:

The review further suggests that very low-carb diets may be superior to comparator (higher-carb) diets for improving glycemic control, body weight and can reduce the need for medications in the short term (up to 12 months).

The authors stated that more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of carb restriction for diabetes. They also emphasized that it’s very important for people with diabetes to work with their healthcare provider to manage insulin and other medications when eating low carb. Hypoglycemia is a major concern.

Yet the overall conclusion is decidedly supportive of carb restriction as a viable option:

Healthy low- or very-low-carb diets can be considered as one healthy eating pattern for individuals living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes for weight loss, improved glycemic control and/or to reduce the need for antihyperglycemic therapies.

At Diet Doctor, we applaud Diabetes Canada for this move. It’s encouraging to hear that Canadians with diabetes will be presented with a low-carb option that can help them achieve better blood sugar control with less medication, improve their health, and increase their quality of life.

And as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who has supported carb restriction for people with diabetes for more than nine years, I am thrilled that Canadian clinicians will be able to provide low-carb guidance to their patients without fear of deviating from standard recommendations.

Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE


Unpublished study challenges the insulin model of obesity

Bad science is bad science, no matter what the conclusions

Obesity as a risk factor for coronavirus complications

Type 2 diabetes