Remember when low carb wasn’t as well known as it is today? We do! Here’s an article from Sweet Life magazine published a few years ago that explains all the ins and outs…
Professor Tim Noakes says that a low carb, high fat diet is the way to go. We gathered your questions and asked him how the low carb diet affects diabetics. Here’s what he had to say.
What exactly is this diet?
A low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet. This diet is most effective for people with diabetes – either Type 1 or Type 2, or pre-diabetes, like myself. It also helps treat obesity, but it’s obviously not the diet for everyone. The question is whether it’s for 10% of the population, or 90% of the population – I think it’s about 60% or more.
Low carb means no bread, pasta, cereals, grains, potatoes, rice, sweets and confectionery, baked goods. You have to be resolute – and the more severely affected you are, the more resolute you have to be. If you’re already diabetic, you have every reason not to eat these foods.
Can you explain what carbohydrate resistance is?
My opinion is different from the traditional teaching. Carbohydrate resistance is traditionally described as someone who is unable to take glucose out of the blood stream and store it in their muscle and liver. I disagree with this explanation: I think we’re all born with varying degrees of carbohydrate resistance, and the children who get really fat very young are the ones who are most carbohydrate resistant. The carbs they take in they simply store as fat. That’s the first group.
The second group are people who become pre-diabetic at 30 or 40, and then they become diabetic at 50. They are overweight, and that’s a marker of the high carbohydrate diet. They eat a high carb diet, they are carb resistant and it gets more and more severe until they become diabetic. I think it’s genetic, and the reason I think that is because in my case, although I’ve lost weight, I’m still carbohydrate resistant – I can’t go back to eating carbs.
What if you have high cholesterol? Isn’t it dangerous to eat so much fat?
Firstly, the theory that high cholesterol is a good predictor of heart disease is not true – it’s a relatively poor predictor. A far better predictor is your carbohydrate status. Everyone knows this – if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic, your risk of heart disease is increased. Diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are linked, but most heart attacks occur in people with cholesterol below 5. It’s very frustrating, because the public has got the wrong idea.
A high fat diet corrects everything, in my opinion – your HDL goes shooting up, your triglycerides come shooting down and that HDL to triglyceride ratio improves dramatically: that’s one of the better predictors of heart attack risk. The LDL small particles are the killers, and on a high fat diet, those go down. Your total cholesterol can go up, but that’s because your HDL has gone up, and the large, safe LDL particles have gone up. So unless you measure all those variables: HDL and LDL and triglycerides and glucose tolerance, you can’t judge the effects of the diet.
What carbs do you eat?
The good carbs are veg – that’s it. Sweet potatoes (not regular potatoes), butternut, squash and then I also eat dairy: milk, cheese, yoghurt. I don’t eat any fruit except apples, but that’s because I severely restrict my carbs. You’re not cutting out nutrients if you eat nutrient-dense foods like liver, sardines, broccoli and eggs – those are the most nutrient-rich foods you can eat. You can get vitamin C from meat if it’s not over-cooked. The key is that you eat lots of fat, and you don’t avoid the fat. I eat lots of fish, like salmon and sardines. And you want to eat lots of organ meats – that means liver, pancreas, kidneys, and brains if you can get them, but particularly the liver. Liver is very nutritious.
Is this diet possible for people who don’t have a lot of money?
You don’t have to eat meat every day – you can eat sardines and kidneys, for example, which are both very cheap.
Could the positive effect of a low carb diet on insulin resistance be because of the weight loss and not because of the new diet?
No, absolutely not. Because it happens within one meal – your insulin requirements go down within one meal, because you’ve shut off the production of glucose by not eating carbohydrates.
What is wrong with the old fashioned idea of a balanced diet? Why does it have to be so extreme?
If you’re diabetic, you have a problem with metabolising carbohydrates. You have to understand that if you want to live a long life and have minimal complications, you want to minimise your carb intake. Start at 50g a day. What that looks like is two eggs for breakfast, with some fish – salmon or sardines, and some veg. And dairy: cheese or yoghurt. That will sustain you until early afternoon. For lunch, I think you should have salad and some more protein and fat – and exactly the same for dinner. Chicken, cheese, nuts, salad, tomatoes, broccoli. It’s an incredibly simple way to eat, but you don’t get bored.
Once you’re on this diet, you feel so good, and you get rid of all these aches and pains and minor illnesses: you won’t want to go back. If you do go back to eating carbs you’ll put on the weight again. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifelong eating plan. It’s not a quick fix.
I think the diabetics who live to 80, 90, 100 are the ones who eat this kind of diet.
Just a quick note to say – did you see Sweet Life interviewed in the Sunday Times last week, for National Diabetes Month?
If not, take a look below…
Read more great Sunday Times Neighbourhood content at www.yourneighbourhood.co.za
We’re very excited to share the details of the 2015 Cycle 4 Diabetes relay with you – a 52-hour cycling relay starting today! Check out all the details below and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for live updates!
With massive increases in the incidence of diabetes and obesity, South Africa is sitting on a ticking time-bomb regarding the health of its citizens. The lifestyle changes that couple the rapid rate of urbanisation in the country have resulted in the nation facing a health crisis that has been termed ‘the diabetes tsunami’.
Conscious of the debilitating effects of the disease – and of the consequent impact on both the economy and on society – the Department of Health has partnered with Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company, to improve awareness of this chronic condition. This public-private partnership is further geared to educate South Africans about their lifestyle choices and the associated risks of developing diabetes.
The campaign will see 16 cyclists, including SABC 2’s Leanne Manas, take part in the Novo Nordisk Cycle 4 Diabetes, a 52-hour cycling relay commencing on 5 November 2015, that will take the cyclists through KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and then back to Johannesburg on 7 November 2015.
Novo Nordisk South Africa’s GM, Dr Timmy Kedijang, explains: “The aim of the cycling relay is to bring attention to this condition so that we can educate South Africans about it. Our approach is to address the challenge on the basis of three prongs: intensifying awareness about diabetes, increasing diagnosis rates, and improving access to care. As part of the goal of increasing awareness of diabetes, at designated points along the cycling route, Novo Nordisk will offer free diabetes screening and education”.
According to the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, “Lifestyle factors such as poor diet and a lack of exercise are often the cause of obesity, which may lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes. This link between obesity and diabetes has led to the coining of a new term, ‘diabesity’.”
Symptoms of diabetes include weight loss, frequent urination, a lack of energy and excessive thirst. People with a combination of any of these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. Communities along the Cycle 4 Diabetes route are encouraged to take advantage of the awareness and free screening campaign.
“Partnerships such as the one between the Department of Health and Novo Nordisk are key to slowing the tidal wave of diabetes affliction in South Africa” says Dr Kedijang
Teams taking part
- a) Team Cycle 4 Diabetes
- b) Bonitas Pro-cycling
- c) Team Best Med
- d) Iron Lady team
Duration of event: 05 – 07 November 2015
- a) 05 – Johannesburg
- b) 06 – Kwazulu Natal, Mpumalanga
- c) 07 – Johannesburg
Pre-event activations: 04 November 2015
- a) Alexandra township: Alex Plaza
- b) Soweto: Dobsonville Mall
05 November 2015
- a) Soweto: Maponya Mall
06 November 2015
- a) Newcastle: Fairleigh Hall
- b) Pietermaritzburg: Truro Hall, Westville
- c) Vryheid
- d) Mpumalanga, Standerton: Gert Sibande District