Low-carb (low-glycemic) diets continue to gain evidence for both their fat burning effects and cardiovascular health!
While the popularity of low-carb diets has waned recently, the importance of modifying carbohydrate intake to keep blood glucose low has not lost its importance.
A recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology highlights the importance of glycemic control1. In the study, it was found that in men with cardiovascular disease, the lower the blood sugar, the less likely they were to have another cardiovascular event. In fact, when blood sugar was at the upper limit of normal (100 mg/dL), there was a 12 percent risk of death over the two-year study period compared to a four percent risk of death at a blood sugar of 70. This is a shocking 300 percent increased risk of death for those with so-called normal blood sugar.
The reason elevated blood sugar is so deadly is that it cross-links with healthy proteins and damages them. The end result is called advanced glycoslyated end products (AGEs). This is what the hemoglobin A1C test measures. I strongly recommend maintaining a fasting blood sugar of 70, as 100 or more is truly not healthy or optimal.
Another study of women found similarly important results. The February issue of the journal Nutrition had a study comparing the American Heart Association Diet (AHAD Step 1) to a Low Glycemic Index Diet (LGID) with 30 grams of soy protein and four grams of phytosterols (natural compounds similar to human estrogen)2. It was shown that women in the LGID group had a significantly greater improvement in cardiovascular disease risk factors than women in the AHAD group.
Low Carb (Keto) Diets
As a reminder, low-carb (low-glycemic) diets, such as the Keto Diet, are a safe and effective way to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, by consuming foods with a low glycemic index.
Glycemic index is a measure of how much a certain food causes a rise in blood sugar. It’s been widely shown that a diet rich in low-glycemic foods is more beneficial than one containing refined carbohydrates and sugar.
Additionally, the consumption of low amounts of saturated fat and higher amounts of healthy fats such as flaxseed, fish oil and olive oil is also healthier. It’s very simple: low sugar/simple carbs, optimal protein, fiber and healthy fats will promote health, reduce obesity/body fat and promote a healthy blood sugar.
Diet shakes have always been a great source of high-quality, complete protein with amino acids, high fiber and only a gram or two of carbs. The shakes also contain a foundational multivitamin and mineral blend. They make a great supplement to your diet, or a meal replacement for one or two meals per day combined with some healthy snacks and dinner.
If you have a tendency toward diabetes or high blood glucose, a low-glycemic diet may help you control your weight and manage your blood glucose (as measured by the hemoglobin A 1 C level). In a study published in Diabetes Education, it was found that when people were counseled on a LGID, there was a mean drop in hemoglobin A1C levels by 19 percent, a decrease in body mass index by 8 percent and average weight loss of 17 pounds.
Chromemate & CoQ10
In addition to a low-glycemic diet, some nutrients may help control blood glucose levels. Chromium is an essential nutrient in glycemic control. Several studies have shown that supplemental chromium may help improve lean muscle mass, reduce body fat and help in weight reduction. I recommend 200 to 500 mcg per day of the organic form, Chromemate along with 200 mg of CoQ10, acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, B-complex and other nutrients beneficial for energy production, promoting healthy blood sugar and providing antioxidant protection.
In fact, numerous studies indicate that alpha lipoic acid can reduce damage elevated blood sugar causes to cells and nerves, while also promoting healthy blood sugar. It’s truly one of many amazing nutrients.
Gymnema sylvestre is an old Native American herbal remedy that may also help promote healthy blood sugar. One clinical trial in the U.S., in a group of type 1 and type 2 diabetics who took 800 mg per day of an extract standardized for 25 percent gymnemic acids, showed promising results.
Another herb that may be beneficial to overall weight reduction is Hoodia gordonii. This herb has been discussed in detail in one of our prior newsletters. It has a beneficial effect on appetite control, helping to promote weight reduction. Of course, if you eat less (especially if it’s less simple carbohydrates) your blood glucose will raise less. This may help in long-term glycemic control. Studies prove reduced-calorie diets dramatically increase longevity and reduce incidence of disease. Most Americans consume double the calories they require. It appears optimal caloric intake is in the 1, 200 to 1, 500 range per day.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a very promising nutrient. It has been shown to have a muscle-sparing effect: that is, when taken by people losing weight, there’s a reduction in body fat and a sparing of lean muscle tissue. This is very important in weight reduction and management, because muscle is more metabolically active than fat, and each pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories per day. In fact, one study indicated a reduction of body fat from 21.3 percent to 17 percent with CLA. This is truly amazing. CLA also has antioxidant benefits and promotes a healthy immune system.
Fibrous Fruits & Veg (or Supplements)
Fiber is another critically important nutrient for promoting healthy weight and blood sugar. I recommend 25 to 35 grams per day. The average American only consumes about half this amount.
Exercise & Fitness
Finally, exercise for 45 minutes every other day with a heart rate in your aerobic zone is critical for overall health, reduced body fat, increased muscle and blood sugar control.
I remain firmly convinced, based on my experience with patients and a wealth of scientific evidence supporting my recommendations, the use of a low-carb lifestyle (such as the Keto Diet) is an optimal way to promote healthy cardiovascular function, weight, energy and overall health. The appropriate use of supplements can add benefit to the diet, and assist in these goals.
- 1. Sidney C. Port, Noel G. Boyle, Willa A. Hsueh, Manuel J. Quiñones, Robert I. Jennrich, and Mark O. Goodarzi.The Predictive Role of Blood Glucose for Mortality in Subjects with Cardiovascular Disease. Am. J. Epidemiol. 163: 342-351.
- 2. Dan Lukaczer, J. Liska DeAnn, Robert H. Lerman, Gary Darland, Barbara Schiltz, Matthew Tripp and Jeffrey S. Bland. Effect of a low glycemic index diet with soy protein and phytosterols on CVD risk factors in postmenopausal women. Nutrition. Vol. 22, Issue 2, Feb, pages 104-113.