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The Best Diet for Diabetic Weight Loss

author image Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.
The Best Diet for Diabetic Weight Loss
Control your carb intake throughout the day. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Although diabetics do need to be careful about how many carbs they eat, a diabetic weight-loss meal plan includes a variety of healthy, carb-containing foods. The American Diabetes Association says diabetic meal plans often contain three meals and two snacks daily. The best diet for diabetic weight loss consists of a regular meal plan, reduced calorie intake and a controlled carbohydrate intake.

Calorie and Carb Recommendations

The number of calories diabetics should eat daily for weight loss depends on their usual calorie intake. However, eating 1,200 calories daily for women and 1,500 calories per day for men is a good place to start. The American Diabetes Association suggests diabetic diets provide about 45 percent of the calories from carbohydrates. Since carbs provide 4 calories per gram, following a 1,200-calorie diet requires about 135 grams of carbs daily, and people eating 1,500 calories daily should aim for 169 grams of carbs each day.

Blood Sugar Control

Since carbs are your body’s preferred energy source, diabetics do need to keep carbs in their diet during weight loss. However, limiting carbs to about 60 grams during meals and no more than 25 grams of carbs for snacks helps diabetics control their blood sugar levels, notes the American Diabetes Association. Choosing foods that contain healthy carbs helps keep blood sugar in check. High-fiber carbs or foods containing carbs combined with protein -- such as whole grains, legumes, nonstarchy vegetables, milk, yogurt, fruit, nuts and seeds -- have lower glycemic indexes, which is beneficial for blood sugar control.

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Low-Carb Options

While diabetics don’t have to follow low-carb diets to be healthy and lose weight, choosing plenty of foods rich in protein or healthy fats is another excellent way to help control blood sugar during weight loss. Examples of healthy low-carb options that are rich in protein -- a satiety booster -- include seafood, unbreaded poultry, seafood, egg whites, reduced-fat cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, plain nonfat Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds and nut butters. Though lacking in protein, plant-based oils contain heart-healthy fats and are carb-free.

Sample 1,500-Calorie Menu

A sample 1,479-calorie diabetic weight-loss menu that consists of about 45 percent of the calories from carbs is as follows: for breakfast, try four egg whites, one slice of whole-wheat toast, 1 teaspoon of reduced-sugar peanut butter and 1 cup of apples. For a midmorning snack, try 1.5 cups of fruit-flavored Greek yogurt. A healthy lunch might include 2 ounces of grilled chicken breast, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1 cup of asparagus and 1 cup of cooked quinoa. For an afternoon snack, try 1 cup of sliced strawberries, 1 ounce of almonds and 1 ounce of reduced-fat cheese. A nutritious dinner includes a lean turkey burger on a whole-grain bun, 2 cups of leafy greens, 1 tablespoon of Italian salad dressing and five whole-grain crackers.

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