My Diabetes Diet and the ADA Diet

In this post, ‘diabetes diet‘ refers to the diet that lead to my diabetes diagnosis, essentially a fast food diet. I will compare my diabetes diet, the ADA Diet and my low carb paleo meal plan.

  • The ADA still promotes a high carb diet to diabetics.
  • I answer the question, “Is the ADA diet really ‘high carb’?”


The American Diabetes Association (ADA) promotes a low fat, high carb, grain based diabetes diet, as does the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE).  Both the ADA and the AADE will deny they promote a high carb diet, this post proves my claims.

bread powerfoods


The picture above is from ADA’s, taken from a ‘diabetes friendly’ cookbook they sell. Grrrrr. I contend the ADA Diet is NO better than the SAD (Standard American Diet) or at best ONLY marginally healthier and therefore harmful to the health of EVERYONE but especially detrimental to DIABETICS.


My Diabetes Story

I am a formerly obese, formerly drug and insulin dependent diabetic, taking four insulin shots a day … just to survive.  Today I am in best fitness condition of my adult life, normal weight and truly normal blood sugars.

Oh, and I am drug & insulin FREE!  I attribute my success in self managing diabetes to a low carb paleo meal plan and lifestyle.


My Diabetes Diet

….or the diet that gave me diabetes.


1) WOW… look at those carbohydrate numbers, carbs represent almost 60% of my food, in grams.

Think the high carbs totals may have contributed to my obesity and diabetes?

Not according to ADA, it’s not the 59% of Carbs that caused my obesity, it was the 8% of saturated fats, which like most ADA “findings”, would be humorous if it wasn’t harming people.

2) If Saturated Fats make up a small percentage of EVEN a Standard American Diet, how can it be the root of all evil as so many claim that it is?

3)  “Sweet” Drinks represented 186 g of carbs, approximately 22 % of all grams.


American Diabetes Association Diet

Or the “ADA Way” as I prefer to call it.

A Full Listing of the ADA Diet and it’s components are included at the end of this post. For brevity sake, I include ONLY the summaries below.  I would also like to add that due to the different ways foods can be cooked (with or without fat etc) I am only looking at the carbohydrate totals and it is the most important number for this discussion.

The ADA provided a Food Pyramid with suggested servings. They give NO guidance as to HOW MANY you should eat. They suggest you see an ADA Minion for that. ( Dietitian or Nutritionist) Why should you pay for advice on what to eat??? But that is another story.

I created the chart of carbs (below) based on the minimum number of servings and the maximum number of servings. I arbitrarily chose an item from ‘s listing based on the ADA Food Pyramid’s suggested examples.  



1) At first glance the “ADA Diet” looks like an improvement… especially IF you ate the minimal servings.

“My Diabetes Diet” has 483 g of carbs  vs  269g of carbs using the LEAST number of servings for the “ADA Diet.

2) The ADA did  NOT give guidance on minimum vs maximum servings…so trust me, vast majority of the Diabetics believe it’s ok to  eat the maximum number of servings. Many eat the maximum and more because the ADA Diet maintains the addictions to grains and sugar.

3) The ADA diet did not include sweet drinks …


Comparing Apples to Apples

The ADA Diet numbers do not include drinks. And you have to really dig to find ANYTHING negative about sugar drinks on the ADA website. BUT that is understandable given the amount of funding the large Soft Drink manufacturers “donate” to fund study research…you know…in the name of “proper nutrition”…

To compare Apples to Apples, you need even the playing field, we will need to subtract all the “drink carbs” from the “Diet that gave me Diabetes” . Here are summaries of the two meal plans after subtracting the drink carbs.

Level Playing Field

If you consider just the actual foods and not the sweet drinks and juices, even my ‘fast food’ diet can be lower in carbs than the ADA Diet’s maximum allowed servings….and only slightly higher in carbs than the LEAST amount of servings.

The ADA diet is a HIGH CARB DIET.


My Low Carb Paleo Meal Plan

Now let’s take a look at the carb totals of my low carb paleo meal plan,   My goal is to be 30 grams of carbs or less. I try never to exceed 50 grams.  Over the years I have gravitated to lower and lower carb, typically eating 10-15 grams of total carbohydrates per day.



This low carb paleo meal plan (with regular exercise) gives me:

1) Freedom from Insulin

2) Freedom from all drugs (medications)

3) Normal Blood Sugar (for non-diabetics)

4) Best fitness conditioning of my adult life


Diet Comparisons

My largely fast food diet lead to more and more insulin resistance, a diabetes diagnosis and pancreatic failure with a trip to the hospital via an ambulance.

The ADA Diabetes Diet is not significantly lower in carbohydrates and will cause blood sugar spikes.  If the spikes are untreated, cell, organ and nerve damage will occur at a fast rate.

If the spikes are treated, the damage still occurs but at a slower rate. Your health will decline at a slower rate… but still ultimately leading to never damage, organ failure and amputations.

On the other hand, my ‘low carb paleo’ meal plan has lead to better fitness, weight reduction and reductions diabetes complications.  The choice is really a simple one.

You can choose to THRIVE … or choose to live a life of downward health, leading to more pain and suffering. It’s up to you.

I’ll leave you with this, a recent study proving that a very low carb diet beat the ‘moderate’ ADA style diet for blood sugar control.

Below is the specifics of the ‘ADA Way’ meal plan recommendations.



Lower Your Blood Sugar Naturally

If your blood sugars are elevated and you cannot achieve truly normal blood sugars with diet alone…

READ MY BOOK! How to Reduce Blood Sugars.

managing diabetes


14 thoughts on “My Diabetes Diet and the ADA Diet”

  1. “American Diabetes Ass.” – I know it was not an accident, but it FITS!

    RIGHT ON THE MONEY BROTHER!!! You have done your homework, paid your dues so to speak and have the results to prove it works for you. In the last week, my higest daily intake of Carbohydrates has been 42 entire grams. Those carbs are ALL good vegetables.

    I can already hear my Doc’s sigh when I see her in a couple weeks after my next rounds of labs. They’ll be ANOTHER sigh when I ask her if I can back off the meds (if my labs come back as I suspect). It’s MY body, MY health and MY responsibility, so the “American Diabetes Ass.” can keep their diet as fas as I am concerned. It’s be so much better if they just kept it to themselves.

    Keep up the good fight my man!

  2. Great post and dead on!

    @Brian, don’t forget your doc is not your keeper. You are. So you tell your doc you’re going to back off your meds and you just do it. You are in control.

  3. Other than the A1C off the charts (GP didn’t even ask to run one) I was pretty much in the same boat, let’s call it the RMS Titanic! The symptoms hit me hard and fast. I was eating a Fast-Food-Diet. Then I switched to lowfat or fatfree. Guess what? Things only got worse. The carb count went up, looking back at what I was eating. “Healthy Choice(s)”? I don’t think so.
    When I realized what was happening, I called up my old employer who had done the Atkins plan. I took it to extremes. I called the Dr. It was 2 weeks to get in. I ditched all soda, diet or not. Water, coffee, tea only. I restricted carb intake to as low as I could; I only ate meat, lettuce, cheese, anything that said “0” or “<1" carb/serving. I drank a lot. I didn't even change my exercise plan of walking and being out in the sun in the summer doing lawn work or shooting sporting events.
    The weight began to fall off within a week. It continued to drop. Rapidly. When I got to the Dr., my fasting BG was 75. But my urine was still "a mess". I was told I was already dead and just needed to fall over. I was referred to what Steve calls a "minion". It would have cost me about $1,500 if I had gone. That's a lot of meat, folks! So I stayed on the low-carb plan. I started researching. I slowly added back in things like peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, anything I was growing in the garden at home. I started with a plan of 30 grams/carbs/day.
    My weight went from 210 to 149, waist from 38" to 31", shirt size from XL to almost M.
    That was in July of 2006. I have kept the weight off. My last A1C was 5.3. Before that, 5.4. I have since eliminated low-carb bread, and all grain products, as I was developing headaches, sinus issues, etc. Apparently I've developed a gluten issue, too.
    I have never taken insulin, or even 1 pill.
    My average AM readings are now in the 90's consistently, sometimes the low 80's.
    I would recommend Steve's advice to anyone, especially if you are at risk. The ADA Diet is a scam, pure and simple, to the tune of $19 million dollars/year in donations!
    THEY don't want YOU better – they want you ADDICTED like a methhead to their drugs!

  4. Oh, and I’ve since cut the carb levels WAY back again.
    My usual breakfast is a slice of lean meat or some bacon and 2/3 eggs.
    Lunch is a salad, vinegar/olive oil dressing, with some meat.
    Dinner is a large meat course, and green vegetables. I doubt if I even take in 30 grams/carbs/day now.
    I also chart and test individual foods, too.
    The carbs in a tomato are not the same type of carbs in a donut, folks!

  5. I followed the ADA diet for years and the only thing that happened to me was a steady increase in the medications to “manage” my diabetes. I had side effects to the meds, to the point that I was no longer able to tell how I was really feeling. I no longer knew what normal was. My weight increased uncontrollably and I had resigned myself to living the rest of my live as a fat, chemically dependent, sick person so depressed that I spent most of my days in bed. In 6 mo. on a Low Carb diet I have gone from taking 18 units of insulin, 20mg Glyburide and 45mg Actos to 0 meds. I’m no longer depressed, I have energy and people that have known me for some time can’t believe the change.

    My brother, who is also diabetic has adopted a low carb diet after learning of my success, and has also gotten off all of his meds.

    I am a strong believer in a Paleo diet and that humans were never meant to eat grains,etc.

  6. @Keith, holy-moley! Another inspirational story! It’s too early in the morning to get me so fired up!

    @Vicki, I know My doc is not my keeper, I don’t know why I crave her ‘blessing’ on dropping the meds. My lab results should give me the ammunition I need to show her how serious I am about getting off the meds. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll go off with or without her approval! I need to know if I can keep my blood sugar where I want it through diet & exercise alone. Thanks for the support!

  7. I’m a type who was eating the ADA diet for years…..low fat, high carb. It nearly killed me: extremely frequent and severe hypoglycemia due to the difficulty (impossibility) of matching large insulin doses to cover high-carb intake. When I cut carbs to 30 grams per day, my daily insulin dose went from 80-120 units per day to 35 units per day. Of course, I lost 20 lbs of excess weight in a matter of 6 months.

    Overproduction of insulin is a long term killer for anyone, and the ADA diet CAUSES insulin overproduction.

  8. My doctor told me that he had never had a patient like me(low carb to lower blood glucose). That is so sad. I was hoping he would say “I am going to try low carb on my other patients.”

    I went low carb as soon as I figured out my blood sugar after eating was too high. My doctors never saw this as a problem as my fasting BG was “normal”.

    My experience with expert diet advice came when I was sent to a dietitian after having a stent for CAD. The high carb diet recommended by the AHA made my triglycerides soar to about 300 and my cholesterol went over 200. Of course I was put on a statin, but I was lucky – I was unable to take it because of severe muscle pain. Since dropping carbs not only is my BG good, but my triglycerides are 80 and my other lipids look good too.

    Low carb for about 18 months.

  9. Sandy Abernathy

    I found Steve through a friend of mine on line, Brian Keith Lawson. When I first met Steve, we “discussed” the American Diabetes Association diet, so to speak, LOL. But I stopped and really listened to Steve. I then studied the Primal Blueprint Diet by Mark Sisson. To make a long story short, Steve’s way of eating WORKS. You are full and not hungry. And you loose weight. As I loose weight, I am backing down on my own medications. I just let my Doctor know what I am doing so he can chart it. But then I feel my doctor is anti medications, etc.. so he is a nice part of my “Team” so to speak and on my side!! I wish there was a way to change the ADA recommendations!! I know many have emailed them and tried, but the ADA isn’t listening to REAL DIABETICS!! I live in the State of California. I live in Northern California above Sacramento, in the Sierra Mountain Foothills.

  10. After a visit to Mayo in Rochester in March, I was put on a high carb diet.

    My goals when visiting were to figure out why i wasn’t losing weight and to develop a plan to get off all meds.

    I was sudo-primal before visiting (100 to 120 grams of carbs per day). I was taking Metformin 500mg 2x day, and 20 units of Levimir long-acting insulin at night. A1c was in the 8s. Within 10 minutes of meeting me, the diabetologist told me he thought I was type 1. This is without running any tests and knowing that I had only been diagnosed with type 2 three years prior. A visit to the nutritionist followed and I was perscribed 3 meals per day and no less than 109 grams of carbs per meal! In addition I was givin a fast acting insulin (Novolog)to take 3x day before meals. I got home and I was angry. My family convinced me to listen to the “experts’ at Mayo and go with what was prescribed. After 5 weeks i have gained 14 lbs, feel bloated all of the time, and have frequent boughts with low blood sugar. So not only have I not accomplished my goal of losing weight, but I am on more meds! I am only obese in my midsection. I am very active and excercise 5 to 6 days per week. My body is lean except where I inject the insulin. It is like the drugs that are keeping my blood sugar in control are also preventing me from losing weight and making me fatter! I’m trying to make sense of all of this but it has really just left me miserable and frustrated.

    1. Chad,

      My heart goes out to you. I would like to suggest some things but I can’t since I am not a licensed drug seller … I mean since I am not a licensed nutritionist.

      You can look at my example and try it yourself … or not. You know the road your current path leads, you’ve been on it long enough.


  11. Thanks Steve,
    What if we were “friends”? Friends suggest stuff to each other all of the time and don’t get in legal battles. :)

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