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Diabetes and the Risk of Fad Diets

Plenty of popular gimmicks promise quick weight loss, but for people with diabetes, fad diets can be dangerous.

Extreme Liquid Diets

These are all-liquid meal replacement products - generally, 800 calories or less for daily intake.

For these diets to be safe, you and your doctor must closely monitor your blood sugar and fine-tune your insulin and medications. Using the products can result in an average total weight loss of 44 pounds over 12 weeks. In the long run, that weight loss can improve obesity-related medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. But in the short run, these diets are risky for people with diabetes.

"Generally, with these liquid diets, four 200-calorie shakes a day are allowed -- and that's all," says Gidus. "But those shakes aren't just low-calorie, they're also low-carb. When you add up the carbs, it might not be enough for you. I don't recommend those diets for people with diabetes."

Also, liquid diets don't teach you about healthy eating habits -- which is the most important thing to learn.

Weight Loss: Doing It Right

Fad diets are easy to identify : They often blame particular hormones for weight gain, suggesting that food can change body chemistry.

Trendy diets also often tout or ban a particular food. And their advice is not in line with major health advisors like the American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association, or the Surgeon General.

If you are overweight and have type 2 diabetes, it's important to change bad habits that promote weight gain. Meneghini's keys to healthy weight loss: strive for a balanced diet and more physical activity. "Small changes over time will give you very good results."

And remember, a healthy diet does not exclude any of the five food groups -- grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and beans, and oils -- ensuring you get essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. Because fad diets severely restrict major nutrients, they can lead to serious health problems later on.

"For some people, making note of the high-calorie junk food you've been eating, then stop eating it, is all you need to do," Meneghini tells WebMD.

This can include alcohol. "If you have diabetes, you have to be careful about alcohol," advises Gidus.

Gidus also recommends avoiding appetite suppressants. "Most people don't overeat because they're hungry. They eat for social and emotional reasons. They have bad habits."

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