Diabetes and the Risk of Fad Diets


Remember Jared, the Subway Diet guy? He lost 245 pounds eating subs and not much else, every day for a year.

If you want to lose weight, there are plenty of blood pressure levels — creating an especially high-risk situation for someone with diabetes, says Tara Gidus, MS, RD, a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a private-practice nutritionist in Orlando, Fla.

“Diabetes can affect a number of systems in the body,” Gidus tells WebMD, “putting you at higher blood sugar in the same way as a person without diabetes. There is more risk of complications. A fad diet can increase that risk.”

Diet Fads: What’s Good, What’s Bad

Here’s a sampling of some popular diets, and experts’ opinions of them:

High-Protein Diets

The famous Glycemic index is a concept of controlling insulin or medications to allow for this change. That’s why discussing any of these diets with your doctor is an absolute must.

Extreme Liquid Diets

These are all-liquid meal replacement products – generally, 800 calories or less for daily intake.

For these diets to be safe, you and your doctor must closely monitor your blood sugar and fine-tune your healthy eating habits — which is the most important thing to learn.

Weight Loss: Doing It Right

Association, American Dietetic Association, or the Surgeon General.

If you are overweight and have healthy weight loss: strive for a balanced diet and more physical activity. “Small changes over time will give you very good results.”

And remember, a healthy diet does not exclude any of the five food groups — grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and beans, and oils — ensuring you get essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. Because fad diets severely restrict major nutrients, they can lead to serious health problems later on.

“For some people, making note of the high-calorie junk food you’ve been eating, then stop eating it, is all you need to do,” Meneghini tells WebMD.

This can include alcohol. “If you have diabetes, you have to be careful about alcohol,” advises Gidus.

Gidus also recommends avoiding appetite suppressants. “Most people don’t overeat because they’re hungry. They eat for social and emotional reasons. They have bad habits.”

The Bottom Line on Fad Diets

“If you’re a diabetic, you need to be more savvy, more aware, and not fall into these fads,” Gidus says. “They can be more damaging to your health than for the average healthy person.”

As for Jared, the Subway Guy, “I think what he did was great, considering he did it on his own. He found a plan that worked for him,” Gidus adds.

“Did he get enough calcium and vitamins? I don’t know. But it was not terribly unhealthy — vegetables, lean meats, bread. It’s all about finding whatever will work for you. And when he lost all that weight, he reduced risk of life-threatening chronic diseases.”