Bernstein's Diabetes Diet : Overview

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution
by Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.. Image Courtesy of Pricegrabber


Dr. Bernstein is a physician with Type I diabetes. This means that since he was 12, his body has made essentially no insulin. For a long time, he assumed that he would have to live with the complications of diabetes he saw in so many diabetics. But eventually he developed a system of diabetes management which enabled him to closely manage his blood sugar and reverse his many complications of diabetes.

That was in 1969, and he is still healthy today, and advising diabetics about how to live long healthy lives.

Is Bernstein's approach for diabetics only?:

No. Dr. Bernstein has found that his system could help people who aren't diabetic lose weight, improve health, and prevent diabetes. He also believes that often what we think of as "normal" blood glucose is not - it is what I call "pre-pre diabetic", which roughly equates to a fasting blood glucose in the 90's. (See The Road to Diabetes) His books also contain perhaps the best information I have seen how blood glucose works, the negative effects of too much blood glucose, and how to control blood glucose. This is useful for anyone who has issues with carbs or sugar.

Author of the Books:

Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.

Main Books:

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars (most recent revision 2011 - original 1997)

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Diet (2005)

Restricted Foods:

Dr. Bernstein divides foods into those which cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, and those which don't. You simply don't eat foods in the first category. There are some carbohydrate foods which cause a slow, smaller rise in blood glucose, and people following the plan are allowed to eat measured amounts of these foods.

Dr. Bernstein's Food Lists

Amount of Restriction:

At 30 grams of effective carbohydrate per day, this is a very low-carb diet. However, Dr. Bernstein has a lot of suggestions for foods to substitute for higher-carb foods, which has made the diet work for him for almost 50 years.

Amount of Structure:

There is quite a lot of structure to the diet. Each meal has a specified amount of carbohydrate.

Individual Variation:

Dr. Bernstein doesn't talk about individual variation in the diet, except that different people will eat different amounts of protein and fat.

Learning Curve:

Dr. Bernstein's plan is fairly simple to learn. Mainly it involves knowing what not to eat, and then how to manage the carbohydrate at each meal.

How to Get Started on Dr. Bernstein's Diet

Diet Phases:

There are no phases. The main goal is to normalize blood glucose, and the diet is not anticipated to change over time. In fact, Dr. Bernstein says that phasing in more carbohydrate over time is counterproductive.

Note: Dr. Bernstein's assumption is that any diabetic will not be able to achieve normal blood glucose without a very low-carb diet.

  On the other hand, non-diabetics may be able to achieve the same goals and still consume more carbohydrate.

Pros and Cons of Dr. Bernstein's Diet

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