Talking slow, not low
Written by Jayden Abdallah – Accredited Practising Dietitian
You might be familiar with the low carb diet and the results it promises, however, it isn’t as straightforward as simply cutting carbohydrates for people with diabetes. Individual carbohydrate tolerance and the level appropriate to ensure adequate nutrient intake can vary significantly, making low carb a tricky diet to prescribe.
As with other macronutrients, it is not only the quantity but quality of carbohydrate that can have a profound effect on metabolism and ultimately glycaemic management.
Understanding the slow carb diet
The slow carb diet is a dietary approach that emphasises the consumption of carbohydrates with a low GI, contributing to effective glucose level management. Unlike diets that restrict carbohydrates significantly, the slow carb approach acknowledges the nutritional importance of carbohydrates in offering energy and vital nutrients.
Benefits of slow carbs for diabetes management
1. Blood glucose regulation: An important benefit of the slow carb diet is its ability to regulate glucose levels. By choosing carbohydrates with a low GI, individuals experience more gradual spikes in glucose levels after meals, reducing the risk of hyperglycaemia.
2. Improved insulin sensitivity: Research suggests that the slow carb diet can enhance insulin sensitivity, helping cells respond better to insulin’s effects.
3. Sustained energy levels: Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source. By opting for slow-digesting carbs, individuals can experience sustained energy levels throughout the day, preventing the energy crashes often associated with high-GI foods.
4. Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight is a universal concern and is essential for diabetes management. Slow carb foods tend to be more filling and satisfying, reducing the likelihood of overeating. Stable glucose levels can curb sudden cravings, aiding in weight management efforts.
Slow carb diet principles
1. Choose low GI carbs: Encourage clients to opt for carbohydrates with a low GI, such as whole grains (brown rice, millet, barley), legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), non-starchy vegetables, and fruits with moderate sugar content (berries, apples, pears).
2. Prioritise fibre intake: Fibre plays an important role in digestion and in slowing down sugar absorption. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes are excellent sources of dietary fibre.
3. Pair carbs with protein and healthy fats: Pairing carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats further moderates digestion and helps maintain consistent glucose levels.
4. Portion size: While embracing slow carb choices, the importance of portion size remains. Work collaboratively with clients to adapt traditional recipes to align with slow carb principles.
The slow carb diet’s emphasis on glucose level regulation, improved insulin sensitivity, sustained energy, and weight management is aligned with the goals of diabetes care. For more complex cases, collaborating with an accredited dietitian can provide specialised guidance.