Tag Archives: ketogenic mediterranean diet

Can You Help a Doc Out?

 

"I may not make wine with all of my grapes, but when I do, it's red wine."

“I may not make wine with all of my grapes, but when I do, it’s red wine.”

A major U.S. women’s magazine is considering doing an article on my Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet. The writer would like to be able to interview folks (by phone) who have done the diet and had success with it. The article is about weight  loss, however, not control of diabetes. Before and after pics would be icing on the cake but are not necessary.

If you’ve read Control Diabetes and Prediabetes: The Low-Carb Mediterrean Diet, or The Advanced Mediterranean Diet (2nd edition), or KMD: Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, then you’ve seen the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet. Advanced Mediterranean Diet also has a traditional portion/calorie-controlled diet. Control Diabetes and KMD both start with the ketogenic Mediterranean diet (30 carb grams/day) and than add more carbohydrates as tolerated by the individual, resulting in the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet. Most folks following the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet will max out carb consumption at 80-100 grams a day.

I’m terrible at marketing myself and my ideas, so I’ve not kept track of individual success stories from the past.

If you’d be willing to share your success story, please email me with a few of the details at steveparkermd AT gmail.com and I will keep your name on file in case the magazine decides to run with the article. I’ll not divulge your information to anyone else. If you share with me, I’ll assume I have your permission to send your story and e-mail address to the writer.

Thanks for your consideration.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Shameless Self-Promotion

Wine May Ward Off Depression

…according to an article in The Guardian. This finding is from the PREDIMED study of Spaniards aged 50 to 88. Those who drank between two and seven glasses of wine per week were less prone to develop depression.

She looks happy!

She looks happy!

Wine is allowed on my Advanced Mediterranean Diet, Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes plan, and the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet. Of course, some folks should never drink alcohol.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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E-mail Interview With a Low-Carb Friendly Dietitian

Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes, Steve Parker MD

Brain food that won’t spike blood sugars

I received an email from a registered dietitian (FS) in May, 2013. She had some reasonable questions for me and I thought you might be interested in my answers. Here’s her email first:

So funny that you happened to comment on my blog post today because I’d already planned to email you. I’m writing an article on low-carbohydrate diets for Diabetes Self Management magazine and was hoping to ask you a few questions about your experience treating your patients with the Diabetic Mediterranean and Ketogenic diets. We could do it via e-mail if you like. What I’d really like to know is how many of your patients were/are successful in sticking to the diet long term and what type of feedback you’ve received from them, along with any other information you feel is pertinent. Also, what carb range to you recommend for your diabetic patients?

My response:

Dear F,

First, let me explain a little about my medical practice. I’m a full-time hospitalist, meaning I treat adult patients only in the hospital setting. Nearly all of my patients come in through the emergency department. I treat a great variety of problems, like pneumonia, heart failure, cellulitis, pancreatitis, urinary tract infections, headaches, strokes, GI tract bleeding, cholecystitis, altered mental status, out of control diabetes, etc. My training is in Internal Medicine.

By the way, I work in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is a fairly sophisticated and affluent community. My two hospitals employ some dietitians who receptive to very-low-carb eating.

As it turns out, 30% of my hospitalized patients happen to have diabetes, at least 95% of which is type 2. This is typical for non-pediatric hospitalists. Nearly all of these diabetics have an established diagnosis of diabetes and a relationship with an outpatient doctor who is treating it. I usually ask them, “Are you on any special diet, or do you pretty much eat whatever you want?” Half of them say “nothing special; I eat what I want”! Three out of 10 respond that they “avoid sweets and desserts” or something similar. One or two of every 10 report they make a strong effort to reduce carb consumption below the usual American level (250-300 g/day). No more than five of every 100 has ever heard of Dr. Richard Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. (I consider Dr. B the founder and leader of the modern carbohydrate-restricted diabetes diet movement.) No more than one of every 100 follows Dr. Bernstein’s or a similar very-low-carb or ketogenic diet.

Once these patients leave the hospital, I cannot follow them in a clinic setting. I wish I could. I see many of them in the hospital only once, which is not much time to develop a trusting relationship. Perhaps surprisingly, I don’t often do a “hard sell” for a low-carb diet, even though that’s what I’d follow if I had diabetes of either type. People have to be ready to make a change in hard-wired eating behavior, like an alcoholic is ready to quit drinking only when he’s hit “rock bottom.” For someone with diabetes, that rock bottom point is typically at the time of initial diagnosis or when a major complication hits (such as neuropathy, kidney impairment, or retinopathy). They’re more receptive to change then. All of my hospitalized diabetics get a business card referring them to my Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet website (Diabetic Mediterranean Diet).

Since I have no outpatient clinic, I have no way of knowing how many of them adopt a low-carb way of eating. I do get unsolicited emails from diabetics who have adopted the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet or Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, and they report satisfying results with weight management and glucose control. Problem is, as mentioned, I don’t know the denominator. Not once in two years has anyone ever contacted me to report they were harmed by the diets or that they didn’t help at all with glucose control.

I’m convinced you can get good nutrition eating low-carb and very-low-carb. By “low-carb,” I mean under 130 g/day, and “very-low-carb” is under 50 or so. An added benefit for diabetics is that they may be able to avoid the cost and toxicity of some diabetes drugs. We have no long-term toxicity data on most of our diabetes drugs. (Insulin and metform are safe long-term.)

Whether a diabetic goes with Dr. Bernstein’s, my Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, or Dr. Atkins’ Diabetes Revolution, I think they’re going to be better off over the long run compared to eating a typical “diabetic” diet that has 200+ grams of net carbs. Of course, I have no hard proof. We may never have it. Of those who choose LCMD, I have no data on how many of them actually follow it long-term. Hey, I finally answered one of your questions!

If one of my diabetics prefers to eat Bernstein or Atkins-style over my program, I have no problem with that at all. (The Atkins program recommends some nutritional supplements that I’m not convinced are necessary or even minimally helpful.)

How many diabetics stick with a carb-restricted diet (e.g., under 130 g/day) long-term, more than 2-3 months? My guesstimate is only two or three out of ten. The problem is that we live in a highly carb-centric culture: temptation abounds, we form firm dietary habits in childhood, carbs are cheap, and, frankly, many taste very good.

Incidentally, I don’t have diabetes but I strive to keep my digestible (or net) carbs in the range of 60 to 80 grams/day. The carb restriction helps me control my weight, and I’m seeing some preliminary evidence that it may help with prevention of dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

The long-term carbohydrate intake range I recommend for diabetics is 60-80 g of net or digestible carb daily. Twenty or 30 g/day (a la Bernstein or my Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet) can help overweight diabetics lose the excess fat a little quicker and easier. But 30 d/day over the long run is extremely difficult for all but the most highly motivated. If I had type 1 diabetes, I’d give 30 g/day a serious try, like Dr. Bernstein. Competitive endurance athletes may need more than 100 g/day. Some mild type 2’s may be able to adequately handle over 80 g/day depending on degree of residual pancreas beta cell function. It bothers me to see a type 2 diabetic taking 4-5 diabetes drugs just so they can control diabetes while eating a high-carb diet (e.g., over 200 g/day). Again, we don’t know the long-term effects of most of these drugs.

I’m sorry for being so long-winded! I hope this helps. Email me soon if you have more questions and I’ll respond w/in 24h. Or call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Please keep up the good work. In turn, I’ll keep doing my little part to turn around this carb-centric culture. At least until the science dictates otherwise.

Sincerely,

-Steve

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Filed under Carbohydrate, ketogenic diet, Mediterranean Diet, Prediabetes

Potential Problems With Major Carbohydrate Restriction

Caprese salad, naturally low-carb

Caprese salad, naturally low-carb

Ketogenic Diets

First, let’s define ketogenic diets.  For most folks, that means eating under 50 grams of digestible carbohydrate daily.

Your body gets nearly all its energy either from fats, or from carbohydrates like glucose and glycogen. In people eating “normally,” 60% of their energy at rest comes from fats. In a ketogenic diet, the carbohydrate content of the diet is so low that the body has to break down even more of its fat to supply energy needed by most tissues. Fat breakdown generates ketone bodies in the bloodstream. Hence, “ketogenic diet.” Also called “very-low-carb diets,” ketogenic diets have been around for over a hundred years.

What Could Go Wrong?

Long-term effects of a very-low-carb or ketogenic diet in most people are unclear—they may have better or worse overall health—we just don’t know for sure yet. Perhaps some people gain a clear benefit, while others—with different metabolisms and genetic make-up—are worse off.

If the diet results in major weight loss that lasts, we may see longer lifespan, less type 2 diabetes, less cancer, less heart disease, less high blood pressure, and fewer of the other obesity-related medical conditions.

Ketogenic diets are generally higher in protein, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than some other diets. Some authorities are concerned this may increase the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke; the latest evidence indicates otherwise.

Some authorities worry that ketogenic diets have the potential to cause kidney stones, osteoporosis (thin, brittle bones), gout, and may worsen existing kidney disease. Others disagree.

Soon after adoption of very-low-carb eating, dieters may have headaches, bad breath, easy bruising, nausea, fatigue, aching, muscle cramps, constipation, and dizziness, among other symptoms. “Induction flu” may occur around days two through five, consisting of achiness, easy fatigue, and low energy. It clears up after a few days.

Very-low-carb ketogenic diets may have the potential to cause  low blood pressure, high uric acid in the blood, excessive loss of sodium and potassium in the urine, worsening of kidney disease, deficiency of calcium and vitamins A, B, C, and D, among other adverse effects.

Athletic individuals who perform vigorous exercise should expect a deterioration in performance levels during the first three to four weeks of any ketogenic very-low-carb diet. The body needs that time to adjust to burning mostly fat for fuel rather than carbohydrate.

Competitive weight-lifters or other anaerobic athletes (e.g., sprinters) will be hampered by the low muscle glycogen stores that accompany ketogenic diets. They need more carbohydrates.

What About Adherence to the Diet?

It’s clear that for many folks, compliance with very-low-carb diets is difficult to maintain for six to 12 months.  Some can’t do it for more than a couple weeks. Potential long-term effects, therefore, haven’t come into play for most users. When used for weight loss, regain of lost weight is a problem—but regain is a major issue with all weight-loss programs. I anticipate that the majority of non-diabetics who try a ketogenic diet will stay on it for only one to six months. After that, more carbohydrates can be added to gain the potential long-term benefits of additional fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

Or not.

People with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes may be so pleased with the metabolic effects of the ketogenic diet that they’ll stay on it long-term.

The most famous ketogenic diet is Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution.  I’ve put together one call the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet Now in Book Form

A number of my patients and blog readers have asked for a more comprehensive presentation of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet. The KMD, as you may be aware, is the basis for the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.  Both of them are in Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes: The Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.

Odd cover, huh?

The new book is geared for folks who don’t have diabetes, but want to lose weight with a very-low-carb diet.  It’s called KMD: Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.  Readers of Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes will get nothing out of the new book: they’ve seen it all before.  Here’s the book description from Amazon.com:

Dr. Steve Parker presents the world’s first low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet. Nutrition experts for years have recommended the healthy Mediterranean diet. It’s linked to longer life span and reduced rates of heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. Dr. Parker (M.D.) has modified the Mediterranean diet to help you lose excess weight while retaining most of the healthy foods in the traditional Mediterranean diet. What’s the secret? Cut back on the fattening carbohydrates such as concentrated sugars and refined starches.

You’ll discover how to manage your weight without exercise, without hunger, without restricting calories, while eating fish, meat, chicken, vegetables, fruits, wine, olive oil, nuts, and cheese.

The book includes advice on how to avoid weight regain, instruction on exercise, a week of meal plans, special recipes, a general index, a recipe index, and scientific references. All measurements are given in both U.S. customary and metric units. This low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet is included also in Dr. Parker’s Advanced Mediterranean Diet (2nd edition) and Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes. Are you finally ready to lose weight while eating abundantly and without counting calories?

♦   ♦   ♦

 

KMD: Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet is available for purchase at Amazon.com (Kindle edition here, also) or Barnes and Noble (Nook version here).  The ebook version is available in multiple formats at Smashwords

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under ketogenic diet, Mediterranean Diet, My KMD Experience, Shameless Self-Promotion, Weight Loss

Nutty Treatment for Diabetes

Mixed Nuts Improve Diabetes

Eating nuts improves blood sugar control and cholesterol levels in type 2 diabetics, according to a recent research report in Diabetes Care.

Canadian researchers randomized 117 type 2 diabetics to eat their usual types of food, but also to be sure to eat either

  •  mixed nuts (about 2 ounces a day)
  •  muffins (I figure one a day)
  • or  half portions of each. 

They did this daily for three months.  Compared to the muffin group, the full nut group ate quite a bit more monounsaturated fatty acids.  (I don’t have full study details because I have access only to the article abstract.)

Results

Hemoglobin A1c, a reliable measure of blood sugar control, fell by 0.21% in the mixed nut group.  That’s a move in the right direction.  LDL cholesterol, the “bad cholesterol” linked to heart and vascular disease, also dropped significantly. 

So What?

The investigators suggest that replacement of certain carbohydrates with 2 ounces of daily mixed nuts is good for people with type 2 diabetes.

I must mention that nuts are  a mandatory component of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet  and the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, and a recommended option on the Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Steve Parker, M.D.

References:  Jenkins, David J.A., et al.  Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic dietDiabetes Care, June 29, 2011.  doi: 10.2337/dc11-0338

PS: The lead author of this study is the same David Jenkins of glycemic index fame.

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Daily Log for Ketogenic and Low-Carb Mediterranean Diets

Followers of my Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet or Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet may appreciate a Daily Log I’ve put together and published as a one-page PDF.  You actually track seven days of eating on a standard sheet of printer paper.

No wine for him until he's 21!

Daily logs aren’t essential, but may help dieters keep track of the major components of the programs.  For instance, you simply check off when you’ve had your olive oil, vegetables, nuts, fish, wine (or alternative), and supplements.  It also has slots for blood sugar levels.

As long as you have a printer, ink, paper, and electricity, the Daily Log PDF is free.  

I’m trying to make this as easy as possible.  What else can I do for you?

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet PDF Available Now

I finished and posted the PDF of the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.  It’s still free.  It will print on the standard 8.5″  x 11″ paper in most U.S. printers.

Also ready is the Grocery Shopping List for the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet and Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.  Also free.  You’ll see that very-low-carb eating is much more than bacon, broccoli, and Brie!

Steve Parker, M.D.


View Steve Parker,  M.D.'s profile on LinkedIn

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“Advanced Mediterranean Diet” Has Gone Green

The Advanced Mediterranean DietMy 2007 book, The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live Longer is now available in PDF format for $9.95 USD.  It’s not a low-carb diet book, but a calorie-restricted, balanced diet incorporating the healthy features of the traditional Mediterranean diet.  The physical book is also available from Amazon or CreateSpace

My editor and I weren’t thinking globally when we finished the book: measurements are in U.S. customary units.  The average reader can convert to other units with minimal hassle.

Loss of excess weight can be accomplished by measuring either carb grams or calories.  If you can handle monitoring your calorie consumption—and I make it as easy as possible in the book—then the Advanced Mediterranean Diet is a good way to go.  Due to the relatively high carbohydrate content of the traditional Mediterranean diet, however, people with diabetes or prediabetes should do better with carb-counting, as in the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet or Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

Either way, I got you covered.

Steve Parker, M.D. 

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Whole Grains Reduce Heart Attacks and Strokes

Whole grain consumption is associated with a 21% reduction in cardiovascular disease when compared to minimal whole grain intake, according to a 2008 review article in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Disease.   

Coronary heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the developed world.  Stroke is No. 3.  The term “cardiovascular disease” lumps together heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure,  and generalized atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). 

Investigators at Wake Forest University reviewed seven pertinent studies looking at whole grains and cardiovascular disease.  The studies looked at groups of people, determining their baseline food consumption via questionnaire, and noted disease development over time.  These are called “prospective cohort studies.” 

None of these cohorts was composed purely of diabetics.

The people eating greater amounts of whole grain (average of 2.5 servings a day) had 21% lower risk of cardiovascular disease events compared to those who ate an average of 0.2 servings a day.  Disease events included heart disease, strokes, and fatal cardiovascular disease.  The lower risk was similar in degree whether the focus was on heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular death.

Note that refined grain consumption was not associated with cardiovascular disease events. 

Why does this matter?

The traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in whole grains, which may help explain why the diet is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.  If we look simply at longevity, however, a recent study found no benefit to the cereal grain component of the Mediterranean diet.  Go figure . . . doesn’t add up. 

Readers here know that over the last four months I’ve been reviewing the nutritional science literature that supports the disease-suppression claims for consumption of fruits, vegetables, and legumes.  I’ve been disappointed.  Fruit and vegetable consumption does not lower risk of cancer overall, nor does it prevent heart disease.  I haven’t found any strong evidence that legumes prevent or treat any disease, or have an effect on longevity.  Why all the literature review?  I’ve been deciding which healthy carbohydrates diabetics and prediabetics should add back into their diets after 8–12 weeks of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

The study at hand is fairly persuasive that whole grain consumption suppresses heart attacks and strokes and cardiovascular death.  [The paleo diet advocates and anti-gluten folks must be disappointed.]  I nominate whole grains as additional healthy carbs, perhaps the healthiest.

But . . .

. . .  for diabetics, there’s a fly in the ointment: the high carbohydrate content of grains often lead to high spikes in blood sugar.  It’s a pity, since diabetics are prone to develop cardiovascular disease and whole grains could counteract that.  We need a prospective cohort study of whole grain consumption in diabetics.  It’ll be done eventually, but I’m not holding my breath.

[Update June 12, 2010: The aforementioned study has been done in white women with type 2 diabetes.  Whole grain and bran consumption do seem to protect them against overall death and cardiovascular death.  The effect is not strong.]

What’s a guy or gal to do with this information now?

Non-diabetics:  Aim to incorporate two or three servings of whole grain daily into your diet if you want to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Diabetics:  Several options come to mind:

  1. Eat whatever you want and forget about it [not recommended].
  2. Does coronary heart disease runs in your family?  If so, try to incorporate one or two servings of whole grains daily, noting and addressing effects on your blood sugar one and two hours after consumption.  Eating whole grains alone will generally spike blood sugars higher than if you eat them with fats and protein.  Review acceptable blood sugar levels here.
  3. Regardless of family history, try to eat one or two servings of whole grains a day, noting and addressing effects on your blood sugar.  Then decide if it’s worth it.  Do you have to increase your diabetic drug dosages or add a new drug?  Are you tolerating the drugs?  Can you afford them?    
  4. Assess all your risk factors for developing heart disease: smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, age, high LDL cholesterol, family history, etc.  If you have multiple risk factors, see Option #3.  And modify the risk factors under your control.   
  5. Get your personal physician’s advice.    

Steve Parker, M.D.

Extra Credit:  The study authors suggest a number of reasons—and cite pertinent scientific references—how whole grains might reduce heart disease:

  • improved glucose homeostasis (protection against insulin resistance, less rise in blood sugar after ingestion [compared to refined grains], improved insulin sensitivity or beta-cell function)
  • advantageous blood lipid effects (soluble fiber from whole grains [especially oats] reduces LDL cholesterol, lower amounts of the small LDL particles thought to be particularly damaging to arteries, tendency to raise HDL cholesterol and trigylcerides [seen with insulin resistance in the metabolic syndrome])
  • improved function of the endothelial cells lining the arteries (improved vascular reactivity)

Disclaimer:  All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health professional familiar with your current health status.  Always consult your personal physician before making any dietary or exercise changes.

Reference: Mellen, P.B, Walsh, T.F., and Herrington, D.M.  Whole grain intake and cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysisNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease, 18 (2008): 283-290.

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Filed under Carbohydrate, coronary heart disease, Diabetes Complications, Grains, ketogenic diet, legumes, Mediterranean Diet, Stroke