Type 2 Diabetes Diet: What to Eat to Lose Weight

Updated: Feb. 22, 2021

Dieting just two days a week could balance blood sugar. Here's how it works

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healthy food for type 2 diabetes diet
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A diabetes dieting plan outline

There’s a lot of buzz right now about intermittent fasting and the benefits of eating only between a defined period of time. Intermittent fasting might look like eating only between noon and 8:00 p.m., it might involve fasting periods of 24 to 48 hours or longer, or it could be limiting yourself to two meals during a 24-hour period. But does manipulating how often you eat make sense for people with type 2 diabetes who want to try a new diet? Although research is limited, small, short-term studies show it may help some people lose weight. Plus, a study published in 2018 in BMJ suggests intermittent fasting may even help control type 2 diabetes. If you want to give it a try, consider these healthy food ideas and plan from a registered dietitian before attempting longer fasting periods.

2 day diabetes diet book by erin palinski
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What’s on the menu

We asked certified diabetes educator Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, who developed the 2-Day Diabetes Diet to create this simple and delicious menu. You don’t have to count carbs, calories, fat grams, or anything else—all you have to do is follow the special eating style in which you “Power Burn” two days a week and “Nourish” the rest of the week. (Be sure to check out this list of healthy foods that diabetics are bound to love, too.)

man cooking a meal in kitchen
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How to “Power Burn” and “Nourish”

On Power Burn days, you’ll fill up on low-calorie, low-carbohydrate foods that include delicious soups, tasty stir-fries, and luscious homemade smoothies. You’ll throw weight loss into high gear by consuming only 650 calories but without hunger or cravings thanks to three satisfying meals and a snack. This shifts your metabolism into fat-burning mode, which shrinks fat cells and helps reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. The other five days, you’ll stoke your metabolism with 1,500 calories’ worth of foods inspired by the Mediterranean diet—an eating style proven to bring down inflammation and reverse insulin resistance. Here’s how to put this diabetes dieting practice into effect and lose weight. And that’s a good health goal because losing this many pounds could potentially control and in some people, possibly reverse type 2 diabetes.

egg white omelet
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The Power-Burn breakfast

Eat this two days a week: Omelet made with 2 egg whites and 1/2 cup onions and peppers cooked in non-fat cooking spray; 1 cup low-fat yogurt. (Make sure you’re following these breakfast tips for diabetics.)

close up of woman holding bowl of yogurt breakfast
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The Nourish breakfast

Eat this five days a week: Yogurt parfait made with 1 cup low-fat yogurt, layered with 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal and 1 cup blackberries, topped with 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts

carrot soup
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The Power-Burn lunch

Eat this two days a week: Carrot soup with dill; 1 cup fresh blueberries

wrap lunch
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The Nourish lunch

Eat this five days a week: A wrap made with one 12-inch whole-grain tortilla, filled with 5 ounces deli turkey breast, 1/2 cup sliced raw hot peppers, 1/4 cup sliced onion, 1/4 cup diced tomato, and 2 tablespoons hummus; 1 cup garden salad topped with 1 tablespoon dressing 

grilled chicken kabobs
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The Power-Burn dinner

Eat this twice a week: Grilled chicken kebabs; 1/2 cup zucchini cooked with cooking spray and 1/4 cup whole-grain pasta, 1 cup 2 percent milk

vegetable soup overhead
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The Nourish dinner

Eat this five times a week: Summer garden soup served with 5 oz. broiled pork tenderloin, 3 oz sweet potato topped with 1 teaspoon trans fat-free spread, and 1/2 cup prepared collard greens sautéed in 1 teaspoon olive oil. Don’t miss the 9 things you never knew about type-2 diabetes.

fresh green grapes
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The Power-Burn snack

Eat this two days a week: Grapes. Be sure you know the best and worst diabetic drinks to have with each meal. 

close up of woman slicing apples
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The Nourish snack

Eat this five days a week: Sliced apple topped with cinnamon; 1 cup 2 percent milk. Next, check out what else you can eat on a type 2 diabetes diet.