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Links to more low-calorie diet information

Tips on Starting and Following a Low Calorie Diet

iVillage - Low Calorie Diet Information and Recipes

EatSmart Nutrition Scale

Read our review on the EatSmart Nutrition Scale

Purchase with THIS LINK through our website and you get a 10% discount and a portion of the sale will be donated to iPump, a 501(c)(3) diabetes charity that helps others in need.

This is not an affiliate program and IOH gets no compensation for either advertising or for the sale of EatSmart scales.

AACE:  Insulin not salt may be hypertensions bad player

CHICAGO — Insulin rather than salt is the major driver of hypertension, according to an analysis of data from a prospective study of 23 patients with confirmed atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.  

The above article goes on to state that a diet lower in carbohydrates reduced fasting insulin levels and patients lost weight and improved hypertension -- even without restriction on calories.

Do you have type 2 diabetes and want to participate in a low-carb, unrestricted calorie weight-loss study?

The study, conducted by the Veteran's Administration is still recruiting interested persons.

Low Carbohydrate Diet Compared to Calorie and Fat Restricted Diet in Patients With Obesity and Type II Diabetes

What is a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)?

VLCDs are commercially prepared formulas of about 800 calories that replace all usual food intake for several weeks or months. VLCDs are not the same as over-the-counter meal replacements, which are meant to substitute for one or two meals a day. VLCDs, when used under proper medical supervision, effectively produce significant short-term weight loss in patients who are moderately to extremely obese.

Studies have shown that meal replacements at higher calorie levels (800 – 1000 calories) produce weight loss similar to that seen with much lower calorie levels, probably due to better compliance with the diet. In addition, VLCDs are usually part of weight-loss treatment programs that include other techniques such as behavioral therapy, nutrition counseling, physical activity, and/or drug treatment.

NIH Publication No. 03-3894, 2003


diabetes healthy lifestyle diet exercise sports stress management                                                   main Diet page

Healthy Eating with Diabetes
Information about Standard Low-Calorie Diets
Read about Very-Low-Calorie Diets (VLCDs)
By Lahle Wolfe, staff writer for Islets of Hope

Mini Site Index
About low calorie diets
How do I start a low-calorie diet?
Will a low-calorie diet work for me?

About low calorie diets

One of the oldest, and most familiar ways to lose weight is by following a low-calorie diet.  Low calorie diets (not to be confused with "very low calorie diets" are just what the name implies:  a reduction in calories to lower the amount of food you eat each day below what you need to maintain your current weight -- and a diet.

The basic problem I have with low-calorie dieting, is that it is not a lifestyle.  Simply cutting calories is not necessarily healthy, even if weight loss results.  For example, if you only count calories, and do not select foods based on nutritional and health values, you could just eat chips, cookies, and pizza as long as you did not go over your total daily number of calories allowed.

For this reason, if you wish to go the low-calorie route, I suggest you go with a commercial weight loss center plan that reduces the number of calories, but will have a menu designed to include healthy calories, and exclude (or limit as treats) sweets and unhealthy foods.  Again, simply cutting calories, is not necessarily healthy.  You need to eat good foods to be healthy and most who go low-calorie will need to learn some strategies as to how to fit in enough healthy foods each day without feeling deprived.

For more information about weight loss programs you can read:

Choosing a Weight Loss Center (buyer beware)
Jenny Craig Diet
LA Weight Loss Centers (please read before you join them)
NutriSystem (now has a program for type 2 diabetics and senior citizens)
Weight Watchers (has a low glycemic plan now, perfect for the metabolically challenged

How do I start a low-calorie diet?

To begin a low calorie diet, you first need to determine the amount of calories that you need to eat each day in order to maintain your weight, and then, you reduce that amount by 200-300 hundred calories.  This can be calculated several ways and there are online tools to help you.:

Once you know about how many calories you need to maintain your weight, you can decide how many calories to cut out each day.  In theory, you will drop weight when you eat fewer calories than you need -- in theory.

There are other factors to consider when using standardized tables and formulas. For example, how overweight are you to begin with?  Do you have low thyroid levels?  Do you have a metabolic condition that changes how your body processed food (i.e., diabetes types 1 or 2, prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome [PCOS]).  Are you pregnant, nursing, or have gestational diabetes?  Even having food allergies and your age can affect how your body handles food.  In fact, all these things will have an impact on the types of calories that you can, or should consume, not just the number of calories.

Will a low-calorie diet work for me?

Given that this is a diabetes information site, let's assume most readers do have some sort of metabolic issue.  This can make following a straight-forward low-calorie plan ineffective because your body does not process all foods the same -- that is, for you, a calorie may not be just a calorie.  The problem with following an ordinary, simply-count-calories diet is amplified if you take insulin, an antidiabetes medication, an insulin sensitizing drug, or are pregnant or nursing, or have diabetes or other metabolic problems.

Here's why.

If you take insulin.  If you have type 1 diabetes, type 2 or gestational diabetes and take insulin you probably already know that Insulin is a fat-storing hormone.  If you are taking more insulin than you need (this will reflect in either low blood glucose (sugar) or weight gain) your body is going to try and store caloric energy -- not expend it.  Also, if you use insulin as a means to eat all you want (i.e., you are on an insulin pump or insulin pen and it is easy to give insulin to cover foods so you eat more) you will gain weight.

Insulin resistance, prediabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.  These three disorders have one thing in common:  they are all metabolic problems that can cause an overproduction of insulin.  When insulin is over produced in the body, a person is more likely to gain weight, and have a difficult time losing weight -- on the wrong eating plan -- and low calorie diets are the wrong thing for all these disorders because the type of calorie you consume is more important the number of calories you eat.  You also need to eat enough calories each day to rev your already sluggish metabolism up.

If you have a low-thyroid disorder.  The most common thyroid problem with persons who have type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, PCOS, prediabetes, and insulin resistance, is a low thyroid disease called Hashimoto's thyroiditis.  Having low thyroid levels can lead to weight gain and will make losing weight more challenging, but not impossible.  Persons with low thyroid levels may need medication and some even do well on a simple low-calorie, low-fat plan -- unless they also have some other metabolic problem that affects carbohydrate metabolism.  

Many persons with low thyroid levels also have insulin resistance (as well as often have a resistance to converting the T4 hormones into T3).  This may be do in part to the increase in weight associated with low thyroid levels that can affect estrogen levels in women.  The more weight you gain, the more estrogen is stored in fat, and one of the properties of estrogen is to act as a fat-storing hormone.

Gestational diabetes, pregnant, or nursing.  All these factors mean you need to eat healthy for you and for your baby. Cutting calories is not a healthy way to lose weight unless the calories are limited to high-nutrient value, high fiber, and healthy carbohydrate choices -- and with the guidance and supervision of a health professional.

All persons with metabolic problems need to consult their doctor and nutritionist before selecting a weight-loss program, but this is even more important for women who are pregnant or nursing because what you eat (or don't eat) has an impact on your baby too.

Type 2 diabetes.  This is my home territory as I am a type 2 diabetic (who also happens to have Hashimoto's thyroiditis and PCOS).  Losing weight with type 2 diabetes takes less work than you might think, you just have to find the right plan that does most of the work for you.  In fact, once you do latch onto how your own body handles food, you will probably lose weight more rapidly than you gained it in the first place.

If you have type 2 diabetes, do not buy into the "you just eat too much so you got fat and it is all your fault" line of thinking.  With type 2 diabetes, your body can become a fat -storing machine -- and if you are insulin resistant you are producing too much insuline.  Since excess insulin cannot be excreted, you even store that as fat too!

You are probably eating the wrong foods which has made your condition worse because no one told you how eat for type 2 diabetes, and traditional diets are probably never going to work for you.  Understanding how insulin works in the body and making simple dietary changes often works wonders for persons with type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes.  It is a myth that all persons with type 1 diabetes are thin and have an easy time staying thin.  The reason most are so thin when diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is because blood glucose (sugar) has been dangerously high and the body is starving because it cannot use the food energy that is eaten.  Rapid weight less in a person with type 1 diabetes is not a good thing.  The most controversial diet approach for any of the major metabolic disorders is about type 1 diabetes.  School of thought about what to eat when you have type 1 diabetes ranges from ketogenic -- very low, or no carb dieting (Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution) to a high-carb, 50%, almost no-fat diet (the American Diabetes Association).

The truth is, that even persons with metabolic problems like diabetes and PCOS, cannot, nor should be, lumped into any one diet or lifestyle plan.  Everyone's individual dietary needs, especially those with diabetes, are different.

So, then what does work?

Read, "It Helps to be Lazy:  Choosing the right lifestyle plan that works for you, not against you"

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Updated 05/05/2006