5 Worst Diets for Diabetes

Anyone who's ever decided to lose weight knows that impatient feeling. You want results—instant results—and you're more than ready to embrace any diet that promises a new, slimmer you in a very short time.

Before you put yourself on a trendy diet that promises rapid weight loss, consider that a fad diet could have even more severe health consequences for you than for someone without diabetes. And while it's great that you've finally decided to work toward your ideal weight, it's also important that you do so correctly.

"In general, the more drastic the diet, the more weight a person will drop rapidly," says Louis Aronne, MD, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "But the question is whether this is a healthy thing to do." Many diets that promise quick weight loss are, in fact risky for a diabetic, he says.

Here's a rundown of some diets it's in your best health interest to avoid:

  1. Low-carb, high-protein diets. These diets put diabetics at risk for having a low blood sugar reaction, explains Alissa Rumsey, RD, of New-York Presbyterian Medical Center/Weill Cornell in New York City. "And if the blood sugar gets too low, this can cause fainting, tremors and even coma," she explains. "Diabetics need some carbohydrates in the diet." Additionally, Rumsey explains, a diet that is high in protein can stress the kidneys—and diabetics are already at an increased risk of kidney disease.
  2. High-protein, high-fat diets. This type of diet tends to encourage the consumption of foods that are high in saturated fats, like red meat. "These can increase the risk of heart disease, and diabetics are already predisposed to having heart problems," Rumsey says.
  3. Cleanses and very low-calorie diets, Aronne says, aren't recommended. If one of these severely restricted diets is followed for more than a few days, it can lead to decreased muscle mass. "You may lose a tremendous amount of weight," he says. "But if you look at what people are losing, it's actually water weight."
  4. Diets that advocate fasting are a poor idea for diabetics, Rumsey says. "The person is then taking in very little carbohydrates, and this isn't recommended," she says.
  5. Gluten-free diets aren't recommended because products made without gluten are often higher in carbohydrates, Rumsey explains. "This can make it harder for a person to keep their blood sugar stable," she says. Gluten-free diets aren't necessary unless a person has been diagnosed with celiac disease, Rumsey explains. "But these are becoming more of a fad diet than ever," she says.

For healthy ideas about how to lose weight, take a look at The Best Way for Diabetics to Lose Weight.