Let’s get right to the point. If you have diabetes and are wondering if cutting back on sugar intake is a good idea, the immediate answer is: Yes!
But wait, we’re not talking about eliminating carbs. The American Diabetes Association does not recommend a low-carb diet for those living with type 2 diabetes, but it does recommend reducing added sugars in your diet. Maintaining high blood sugars can be dangerous for people living with diabetes, but believe it or not, having low-blood sugar levels can be even more detrimental. For this reason, maintaining a fine balance is really important, and cutting back on free or added sugars, rather than all carbohydrates, may help keep those levels stable.
Here’s the issue with free sugars: They deliver energy really fast. Free sugars raise blood sugar levels quickly, which can be dangerous for anyone, but particularly a person living with diabetes whose pancreas has a harder time keeping up with the insulin requirements. By reducing free sugars, and incorporating more fiber, protein, and good fats that help slow the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars, people living with type 2 diabetes may be able to better control their blood sugar and insulin levels.
A low-sugar diet may also help promote weight loss since dieters are naturally reducing calorie-dense sweets and choosing more satisfying foods. While the role of weight loss in glucose regulation in pre-existing cases of diabetes is controversial and in many cases not associated with improvements in blood glucose control, the American Diabetes Association does recommend making lifestyle changes to promote modest weight loss. Some studies have successfully found that modest weight loss (about 5 percent of body weight) may help reduce insulin resistance and improve A1C levels. Reducing calorie-dense foods like sugar-sweetened beverages may help achieve those goals.
Ready to try it? These seven steps to cutting back on sugar will get you started.