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The Diabetes Diet: Dr. Bernstein's Low-Carbohydrate Solution

The Diabetes Diet: Dr. Bernstein's Low-Carbohydrate Solution

3.5 26
by Richard K. Bernstein

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This low-carb diet book is geared towards diabetics. An engineer by training, Bernstein pioneered blood glucose self-monitoring and the tight control of blood sugar that is now accepted as the standard treatment of diabetes.


This low-carb diet book is geared towards diabetics. An engineer by training, Bernstein pioneered blood glucose self-monitoring and the tight control of blood sugar that is now accepted as the standard treatment of diabetes.

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Little, Brown and Company
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6.25(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.25(d)

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The Diabetes Diet

By Richard K. Bernstein

Little, Brown

Copyright © 2005 Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-73784-4

Chapter One

Why a Low-Carb Diet Is the Only Answer for Diabetics


In its March 30, 2001, edition, the respected journal Science published "The Soft Science of Dietary Fat," by Gary Taubes. The article was not in the strictest sense groundbreaking. It was almost more about the politics of diet than the science. For doctors like me who have been writing for decades about the dangers of a low-fat, highcarbohydrate diet and the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet, Taubes's article was not so much news as a kind of vindication.

What Taubes did was show in clear and convincing detail that there was precious little evidence to support the prevailing hypothesis: that high cholesterol levels and other indicators of cardiac and other disease risk were a consequence of dietary fat, and that dramatically reducing fat and substituting large amounts of carbohydrate would reverse those risk factors. It's a hypothesis that many people still cling to fervently, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

There never were, and still have never been, any studies supporting the notion that dietary fat is the killer it was for decades claimed to be. Taubes writes:

Despite decades of research, it is still a debatableproposition whether the consumption of saturated fats above recommended levels ... will increase the likelihood of untimely death.... Nor have hundreds of millions of dollars in trials managed to generate compelling evidence that healthy individuals can extend their lives by more than a few weeks, if that, by eating less fat.

There are, however, many special-interest groups deeply vested in the high-carbohydrate, low-fat hypothesis.

Because "The Soft Science" was published in a magazine that is well known and respected for its rigorous and carefully researched reporting on science, and because the article was well researched, well reasoned, and well sourced, it was the catalyst for a tectonic cultural shift in attitudes on diet - on what is good for you and what is not.

Taubes won the National Association of Science Writers 2001 Science in Society Journalism Award for his work, but the real earthquake that set off the cultural shift was another article, also by him, that covered similar ground but reached a vastly larger audience.

On Sunday, July 7, 2002, millions of New Yorkers and other readers around the world woke up to the question, posed on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, "What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" The cover showed a photograph of a succulent, nicely marbled steak with a pat of butter melting on top. The article inside convincingly explained that what most people have been told about carbohydrate, protein, and dietary fat is wrong.

In 1997, when my book Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution was published, a low-carbohydrate diet was still a fairly radical concept. (When I published the first version of my diet and treatment plan, in 1981, low-carb diets were absolutely on the fringe.) According to nearly all major media, fat was poison. It was making us overweight, clogging our blood vessels with cholesterol, killing us with heart disease, diabetes, and so on. Quite a number of "experts" maintained that so-called complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads, oats, and pasta, were the answer to nearly every dietary need.

What was happening then - Americans getting fatter, the incidence of diabetes increasing dramatically - kept happening, and it is still happening today.

Over the last several years, with the wide success of low-carb weight-loss plans such as the Atkins Diet, Sugar Busters, the South Beach Diet, and Protein Power, the onceheretical concept of a low-carbohydrate diet has moved from the fringe to the mainstream - despite the continuing protestation of many diet "experts." Alfred Lubrano, in the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote on December 7, 2003:

Avoiding bread, pasta and potatoes at what food experts say is an astonishing rate, many Americans are evangelically fixated on the low-carbohydrate dining espoused by diets such as Atkins and South Beach. Depending on the estimate, between nine million and 35 million people are following all or some of the tenets of a high-protein, low-carb eating regimen.

In the same article, Lubrano also writes: "Unlike low-fat and low-calorie, there are no government guidelines defining the term low-carbohydrate. The Grocery Manufacturers of America Inc. has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to come up with a working definition, which food analysts say may happen early next year."

These diets have achieved widespread acceptance with readers and dieters if not with many old-school dietitians because they help people lose weight and lower several cardiac (and other disease) risk factors. We have now reached a flashpoint, and today low carb is a fad. A recent article by Candy Sagon in the Washington Post, "Low-Carb Crazed: Food Producers Scramble to Please a Nation Obsessed," included the following:

The supermarket is rapidly filling with new low-carb products.... I tried low-carb Sara Lee white bread spread with Skippy "Carb Options" peanut butter. I grilled a burger and squirted on Heinz's One Carb Ketchup (regular ketchup has more sugar). I sucked down a low-carb Michelob Ultra and wished that I could try the new low-carb Tostitos Edge or Doritos Edge that Frito-Lay is test-marketing in Phoenix and promising to introduce nationally in May. Pasta is a big no-no on the Atkins plan ... but trust the food industry to develop low-carb pasta (five kinds under various brand names including Mueller's), and saucemakers like Rag? to introduce a new low-carb pasta sauce. Since steak is big on a high-protein diet, Lawry's has a low-carb version of its steak sauce. And although the Girl Scouts haven't come out with a low-carb Thin Mints cookie, candymaker Russell Stover has introduced low-carb mint patties. Snapple and Tropicana ... now have new low-carb drinks made with the artificial sweetener sucralose.

The author also describes so-called low-carbohydrate offerings at many fast food restaurants, including Burger King, Subway, Baja Fresh, Hardees, and Blimpies. McDonald's and Wendy's have also joined the parade.

It is a blessing that low-carbohydrate diets have gained widespread acceptance, and that a lot of people now have at least some idea (but likely not a very good one) about the role of insulin in building body fat.

It's a bit of a curse, however, that the diets have taken hold so suddenly, because fads tend to promote false and misleading information. I suspect that the largest percentage - if not 100 percent - of the products mentioned in the Washington Post article are not in fact low carb by my standards. Among the "experts" there is little agreement on what low carb means, and when you throw marketing mavens into the mix (the same people who slapped no-fat! claims on candy), things become even more oversimplified as the ka-ching of supermarket cash registers rings throughout the land.

A decade or two ago, people clambered aboard the low-fat bullet train like the station was on fire. Fat was bad, low fat was good. No fat was even better. Where people had been calorie counters in the past, they threw that out the window as the train was pulling out, and started pigging out on low-fat foods. If the label said low fat, the thinking apparently went, it was okay to eat as much as you liked. As long as you avoided the "heart-attack foods" like steak and butter and sour cream, you could keep the no-fat potato. But in fact, the reverse was true.

Now there is the very real likelihood that we will start pigging out on so-called low-carb foods, thinking them virtuous while simultaneously having no idea why. (The grocery boutique Trader Joe's has begun a very significant low-carbohydrate campaign in its stores, providing a guide to the low-carbohydrate foods. They even have a significant stock of "no-carbohydrate" candies, which are sweetened with sugar alcohols rather than table sugar. In truth, because these contain alternate forms of sugar, they are not sugar free, despite the labeling laws.)

There is simply no question that a truly low carbohydrate diet - namely the one presented in these pages - is the solution for diabetics. Indeed, it's the solution to the obesity that plagues increasingly sedentary populations around the world.


A low-carb diet is superior for one simple reason: if done according to the guidelines (in this case I am referring to the guidelines in this book), people don't get fat, or don't stay fat, even as they reach the years of the supposedly inevitable "middle-age spread." In addition, all of the indicators for disease that are supposedly controlled by a low-fat diet, such as triglycerides and LDL (or "bad") cholesterol, descend to normal or low-normal ranges in most people. It's been shown over and over again that slim (not underweight) people live longer than fat people, or even people who are just heavy.

The reason that a low-carb diet can help you become or remain slim is tightly linked to the hormone insulin, which is the principal fat-building hormone. The process works like this: The lower the amount of fast-acting or concentrated carbohydrate you eat, the less significant is the increase of your blood sugar. The less significant the effect on your blood sugar, the less of the fat-building hormone insulin you will need (either injected or made by your body) to stabilize blood sugar. With less insulin at large in your bloodstream, fats you eat will not be stored but metabolized (you will literally pee them away as water or breathe them away as carbon dioxide). In addition, as blood sugars decrease, the efficiency of insulin increases, further minimizing insulin levels in your body, with the result that existing body fat will start to metabolize as well - it will, as they say, just melt away.

Besides playing a role in diseases that result from overweight and obesity, excessively high serum insulin levels are toxic to the body and carry a number of effects that reduce longevity. These include increased blood pressure and damage to the lining of the blood vessels, or endothelium. These effects increase the likelihood of heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis, in addition to other vascular difficulties.

In general, a low-carbohydrate diet provides the nutrients that people need without the excess carbohydrate that causes high blood sugars and requires high levels of insulin. In addition, protein, fat, and slow-acting carbohydrate, such as leafy and whole-plant vegetables and some kinds of root vegetables, tend to be broken down more slowly and continuously, so people who follow this diet tend to feel satisfied much longer after eating. It has also been shown that people on low-carbohydrate diets can consume more calories while losing the same amount of weight as those on simple restricted-calorie diets.

Although the diet I prescribe for my patients has been available to the public since the publication of my first book, Diabetes: The Glucograf Method for Normalizing Blood Sugar, in 1981, I never have published the diet separately until now. There are two reasons I have felt it necessary to do so.

First, as the number of diabetic, overweight, and obese people continues to increase, and as the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets increases, many dieters, frustrated with the failure of the dietary recommendations of the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association (AHA), are looking for an alternative. Surfing diabetes related Web sites, discussion boards, and chat rooms, you'll see low carb everywhere - but you'll also see a lot of misconception as to what low carb means. As diabetics look for an alternative to the ADA and AHA recommendations, it's important that the advice be sound. Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution is a comprehensive program for normalizing blood sugar and covers all the bases - medication, exercise, diet, blood sugar self-monitoring - but I hear over and over again about the diet portion: "Nobody ever told me that before." People who despaired of ever losing weight, ever having energy, ever being able to carry on a healthy sexual relationship, have said again and again that the diet was the main thing that helped them regain control of their lives. I've seen people shed 50 or more pounds in a few months and say they had never before felt in control of their appetites or their lives.

The second reason for this book is that because diabetes, obesity, and overweight are so closely intertwined, I have treated many nondiabetics - some who were in danger of becoming diabetic, others who just wanted to lose weight. I have seen them reverse their complications (which they had despite being "not diabetic"), shed enormous amounts of weight, and regain their health and energy. I recently saw a man who weighed more than 400 pounds. Clinically speaking, he wasn't a diabetic. In working him up, I found that his blood sugar levels were indeed slightly elevated, although not as much as I had suspected, and that he already had about fifteen diabetic complications. Most doctors would say to this man, "Lose weight and let's keep an eye on those blood sugars." This is effectively shifting the burden to the patient and not providing medical care.

I treated him as though he already was a diabetic. My definition of diabetic is anyone with elevated blood sugars, relative to the mean of normal (or the average for the healthy, young, adult nondiabetic population). In all likelihood, however, even the mean of normal is questionable as a safe standard because of the way the general population eats. A recent study published in Diabetes Care showed that in the United States the mean of normal was an average blood sugar level of 95 mg/dl (milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood). For what I see in slim, young adults, a mean of about 83 mg/dl is really normal.

What this demonstrates is that there are a lot of Americans walking around with elevated blood sugar levels, and over time, even if they haven't been clinically diagnosed as diabetic, they are at serious risk for developing the complications associated with diabetes. The diet in this book is not just a diabetes diet, it's a longevity diet, a disease-prevention diet, and a fitness diet. It is the reason that although I have a "fatal illness," I am healthier than many considerably younger people.

It is also the reason that the cardiac and kidney risk factors of the gentleman described above dropped significantly over the next few months and his weight is coming under control.


It's arguable whether any of the low-carbohydrate diets in the bookstores today is ideal for nondiabetics. But I can say that none of them is ideal for diabetics.


Excerpted from The Diabetes Diet by Richard K. Bernstein Copyright © 2005 by Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Diabetes Diet 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a Pharmacist and everyday, I fill hundreds of prescriptions for diabetics. I feel most of those prescriptions are unnecessary. I'm saddened by the recommendations of the American Diabetic Association 'ADA'. I myself have some type II blood sugar issues, my physician said not to worry I was fine. However, I knew better than that and followed Dr. Bernstein's program for 8 months, and lost 30 pounds and now my blood sugars are normal, even if I eat more carbohydrates than recommended. Thank you for your book and returning my life and my families life to normal. I'm horrified by the ADA, and the medical community's inability to recognize the importance of this diet and solution to a devastating disease.
Elizabeth56 More than 1 year ago
Dr. Bernstein has incredible insight into the dynamics of diabetes and the diabetic diet. He's a walking, talking, educated testimonial to his research and the results available. It made so much sense - you end up thinking 'oh, yeah! that's exactly how it is' as you read. He's very practical and neither talks down to nor over you, so it's easy to understand. He pulls no punches and very matter of factly tells you that a short term diet is never the answer for a diabetic. After being told I was a diabetic, I was given lots of conflicting advice. That, along with my research online and the general diabetes education I received wasn't cutting it. It seemed that I had a lot of information without any clear cut results. However, employing this diet nearly immediately brought my blood sugar into line. I've dropped weight. I feel great. Now I am able to directly correlate what I eat and how it effects my health. I feel like I have a real working tool for life. What a difference the right book can make.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about how the author, a type 1 diabetic himself, has dealt successfully with his diabetes. Diagnosed with diabetes at age 12, the author tells in the first part of the book how he came up with the diabetic diet that has enable him to manage his condition so well. The first part of the book also tells all about the diet plan in detail. As the book goes on to say, 'Low carb is what will change lives.' The second part follows with no less than 112 recipes that should appeal to many readers. In fact, about half this book is recipes. An interesting treatment for diabetics that seems to make good sense, I suggest readers with diabetes check it out, as well as check with their doctor before trying it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will save your life!!! Yes it is possible to 'normalize' your blood sugars! I follow this plan and it has worked! My gestational diabetes converted to the real thing in 2002. I was put on the conventional ADA diet (220 carb a day!) and quickly found I could not keep my blood sugars in range on this diet. In frustration I read everything I could to research this disease. I had worked as therapist in a rehab hospital long enough to see hundreds of diabetic patients suffer strokes, heart attacks, kidney disease, amputations etc. I had a healthy fear of this disease!!! In short, it kills. This book explains how Dr Bernstein suffered as a Type I diabetic for years until he -through trial and error- figured out what foods to eat to normalize blood sugar. I now eat low carb as Dr Bernstein recommends and have never felt better! The website for the book is www.diabetes-book.com. The forum on this site is exceptional for recipes and support for following this program. I have so much admiration and respect for Dr. Richard Bernstein. He's not out to make a buck...no low carb products/gimmicks. He became an MD to teach other diabetics how to 'normalize' their blood sugars and works only with diabetic patients. I recommend this book to every diabetic person I meet!!! To Dr. Bernstein I say thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Apheria More than 1 year ago
I myself am a Type 1 diabetic, diagnosed at 19, so I had some pretty bad habits. Now at age 29, I've tried doing everything the doctors have told me, including my dietian and they honestly are failing me. With blood sugars in the 100-120 but Im starting to see the complications creeping! So I gave this diet a try, really what could it hurt! And I am amazed! Instantly my blood sugars are better (73-85 average and he explains why blood sugars need to be on the low end of what doctors are saying is normal) , I feel better, I don't get the random blurry vision, Im losing weight, and I have energy!! My insulin requirement has gone WAY down. The book really explains why certain foods are bad, and I did my research after reading it, just to make sure this wasnt a hype book. I've tried the recipes and alot are great. I've started to play with recipes to my taste and Im really begining to enjoy eating again, it doesn't feel like a chore. This is a must book, especially for diabetics or anyone who is just sick and tired of being, "sick and tired".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Diabetic since 1995, nothing has helped me maintain consistent control of my sugar levels. I saw an ad for this book, read an excerpt, bought it, and saw immediate improvement. It's ridiculously easy, not something I expected to be able to say. Because I watched the documentary 'Fed Up' (Katie Couric) just the week before and it made such a strong impression, that might have prepped me mentally and educated me more fully on where sugars are, but, hey, whatever works! Morning levels went from low- to mid-200's to within the range of 90-120 and have been consistent; am gradually lowering my insulin. Best $12.99 I've ever spent. :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good overall info about low carb eating, but recipes need fixing because fractions are replaced by H, g, J and other meaningless characters. I wish humans would check stuff like this before releasing book books for sale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hello, You may be wondering why such a titile. Well, when I was thirtyseven, I found out that I was a diabete. How terrible! But, I soon learn to deal with the problem. I sometimes still feel tired and over the edge, so to speak, but I have gotten better with time and the help of some good books such as this one. Please keep up the good work. It means so much if one can keep in touch with good health through self taught insight. Thanks again. R. Taulbee//////////God Bless
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you for the reviews. It helped me make the decsion not to buy this book. Being the reviews were god on his other book I will check that out.
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KatherineNC More than 1 year ago
I would not recommend if you plan to use the recipes. They are not correct. Who ever heard of a H cup of spinach or a G teaspoon of paprika or even H lbs. ham?
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