Beware: Following These 3 Fad Diets Could Raise Your Risk of Diabetes

Some of today's most popular diets impact how the body controls sugar, which could potentially hike your risk for type 2 diabetes. Read this before making any drastic changes to your diet in pursuit of weight loss.

Gluten-free diet

glutenxamnesiacx/shutterstockA gluten-free diet eliminates the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. It is the only treatment for celiac disease and may also provide relief for people with IBS, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy. Some people without gluten intolerance or sensitivity may think it’s a good idea to cut out gluten to lose weight, but many nutritionists, including Nichole Dandrea, MS, RD, don’t recommend it. “Since this diet eliminates whole grains, there is a risk of consuming processed carbohydrates that that are devoid of fiber and essential nutrients—vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients,” she explains. “A lower fiber intake may result in higher glycemic foods and increased glycemic load.” In simple terms, that means higher blood sugar. Here’s how to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. On the contrary, she adds, “if someone is following a gluten-free diet that consists of naturally gluten-free whole foods such as sweet potato and quinoa, plus lots of vegetables, and nuts, seeds and legumes for protein, then it may not have an effect on diabetes risk.” To avoid increased diabetes risk, eat unprocessed whole plant-based foods that are naturally gluten-free. Is there a dangerous link between a gluten-free diet and heart disease?

Ketogenic diet

foodMaraZe/shutterstockA ketogenic or “keto” diet significantly limits carbohydrates, the body’s preferred source of fuel, to force it to burn fat for energy instead. (Here’s what it’s really like to follow the ketogenic diet.) In a ketogenic diet, the foods you’re allowed to eat are high in saturated fat, which ultimately elevates triglycerides levels, according to Beth Warren, MS, RDN, CDN. “This can contribute to insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes,” she says. “Additionally, because of the high-fat content in foods, if calories from fat are not calculated, a person can gain weight, which can also contribute to diabetes in the long run.” A keto diet, she adds, also lacks fiber from foods such as legumes, such as beans, lentils, and whole grains. “A diet high in fiber is shown to help combat the risk for diabetes.” Here’s how to get more fiber in your diet without even trying.

Paleo diet

foodCraevschii Family/shutterstockA modern paleo diet—limited to foods you could hunt or gather way back in cave times, such as meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds—helps some people lose weight and others beat chronic pain, but it can increase the risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes. “While this diet consists of unprocessed foods, which is a good thing, it can also be devoid of fiber and essential nutrients that are naturally high in whole grains and legumes,” says Dandrea. “It’s also high in animal-based protein, which increases intake of saturated fat.” (These are the signs you’re eating too much bad fat.) But there is a way to do Paleo without hiking your risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes, and that’s to follow a plant-based paleo diet that’s high in vegetables, nuts, and seeds. “Some Paleo enthusiasts still avoid whole grains and legumes, however, which have been shown to help in preventing diabetes and helping with blood sugar control given the high fiber content,” Dandrea adds.

If you’re tempted to change your diet, make sure you speak to your doctor first. And if you already have diabetes, here are 15 of the best foods for diabetes, according to science.

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