Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

How a low-carb, high-fat diet works for type 2 diabetes.

Between all of the different diet options, which one is the best for you? This is a very difficult decision to make when changing your diet to reach your goals.

A diet is only as good as your ability to maintain the diet. Eating healthy for two weeks and then going back to old eating habits contributes little to a healthier way of living. If you are trying to lose weight, lower your blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, improve heart health, reduce acne, or help combat Alzheimer’s disease, a low-carb, high-fat diet may be the right choice for you.

The diet you choose should help you reach your health goals. Your diet should also:

  1. Be practical (doesn’t take hours to prepare)
  2. Be realistic (doesn’t leave you feeling hungry)
  3. Be sustainable (doesn’t have you wanting to end the diet after two weeks).

Although there are many options for diets for people with diabetes, Total Diabetes Wellness recommends a low-carb, high-fat diet. There is a lot of scientific research to support the health benefits of this diet. You’ll also find this diet doesn’t feel like you’re “on a diet.” Instead, the food tastes good and leaves you feeling full afterward.

Always discuss diet changes with your doctor BEFORE making changes to your current diet. This is especially important if you are on medications. Full disclaimer here.

Macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat

There are three main categories for macronutrients (macros): protein, carbohydrates, and fat.


Protein is essential for building muscle mass and repairing tissues. Although typically associated with animals, protein is also in other foods such as nuts, legumes, and other plant-based foods. Protein is composed of amino acids and is broken down to help aid your immune system and aid in your metabolism. Examples of protein include meat, poultry, fish, egg, milk, and cheese. You can also get amino acids from legumes, nuts, seeds, and lower amounts in vegetables and fruits.


Carbohydrates are classified into two categories.

  • Simple carbohydrates can be broken down by your body very easily for sugar. These are highly processed and usually unhealthy since we don’t want our bodies to have easy access to sugar. Examples include sugar, corn syrup, juice concentrate, and glucose/fructose/sucrose. Simple carbohydrates are most commonly found in soda, baked goods, packaged sweets, and breakfast cereals. Eating simple carbohydrates usually leads to sharp spikes in blood sugar.
  • Complex carbohydrates are packed with more nutrients, typically higher in fiber, and are much more healthy than simple carbohydrates. As a result, they take much longer to digest and are more filling. These foods help promote bowel regularity and help with cholesterol. Examples include fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Eating complex carbohydrates raises blood sugar; however, it doesn’t spike up as quickly as simple carbohydrates because of the fiber content.


Fat allows your body to store energy, make hormones, absorb vitamins, cushion organs, insulate the body, and help with cell membrane integrity. Fats are classified into three categories.

  • Unsaturated Fat can be broken down into monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat is often called “healthy fat” and can be found in avocados, nuts, nut butter, seeds, olives, certain oils (olive, avocado, safflower, etc.), and fatty fish.
  • Saturated Fat is better than trans fat but not as healthy as unsaturated fats. In large amounts, saturated fat can raise cholesterol and increase heart disease risk. Saturated fat is found mainly in animal sources such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with the skin left on, dairy, full-fat cheese, butter, cream, and lard.
  • Trans Fat is unhealthy and should be eliminated from your diet. Hydrogenated oils found in margarine, shortening, baked goods, doughs, and fried foods are all examples of foods that most likely contain trans fat.

Macronutrients showing different foods in each group, carbs, proteins, and fats.

Low-Carb, High-Fat Macronutrients (Macros)

The USDA recommends a macronutrient split of 40-65% carbohydrates, 10-35% protein, and 20-35% fat.

In contrast, a low-carb, high-fat diet is often split 10-30% carbohydrates, 20-30% protein, and 40-70% fat. In general, with a low-carb, high-fat diet, it is not essential to count your macros. The health benefits of this diet are obtained without the need to count. This diet also leaves you feeling full and is a much more sustainable diet for someone who isn’t used to eating a restricted diet.

What Is a Low-Carb, High-Fat (LCHF) Diet?

A low-carb, high-fat diet is just as it sounds. The goal is to reduce or eliminate starchy and highly processed carbs while adding healthy fats to your diet. Essentially you are eating unprocessed foods like eggs, fish, meat, nuts, and vegetables.

The FDA recommends consuming between 200 and 300 grams of carbohydrates each day. Many people eat significantly more than this amount. By definition, anything under these numbers could be defined as a low-carb diet. Total Diabetes Wellness defines a low-carb diet as anything below 100 grams of net carbs per day.

Our low-carb diet recommendations:

  • Your daily net carb intake is between 50-100 grams. This is about 10-30% of your energy derived from carbohydrates.
  • You consume a moderate amount of protein, usually between 80-140 grams per day, depending on your weight and gender. This is about 20-30% of your energy derived from protein.
  • The remainder of your diet is from natural fats. This is about 40-70% of your energy derived from fat.

Low-Carb, High-Fat vs. Other Diets (Keto & Atkins)

All three of these diets are low-carb, high-fat diets. Here are some specifics of each diet:

  1. Ketogenic (keto) typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs to help reach ketosis. Ketosis is a state in which the body switches to burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
  2. Atkins has four separate phases. The induction phase is to jumpstart weight loss. The weight loss phase helps you to continue to lose weight. The pre-maintenance phase is finding the right carb balance. The final phase, maintenance, is the new way of eating. Atkins doesn’t require macro counting.
  3. Low-carb, high-fat is less restrictive than keto and Atkins. There is no need to macro count, and there is less to worry about when implementing a low-carb, high-fat diet.

So Which Diet Is the Right One To Choose?

Research supports all of these types of diets. The less restrictive a diet is, the easier it is to follow and continue the diet long-term. Having a sustainable diet is critical to ensure your success. Many people can follow a strict keto diet for a few weeks or even a few months, but struggle to maintain it long-term because it is so restrictive.

Due to the overall ease of starting and sticking to a low-carb, high-fat diet, Total Diabetes Wellness recommends and implements this diet strategy for losing weight and lowering blood sugar levels. In addition, giving yourself 50-100 grams of net carbs per day will allow you to enjoy a wider range of food and help you feel less like you’re on a “diet.”

Once you have established a healthy diet change, then looking at a more restrictive diet makes sense. All of the recipes on our website are low-carb, high-fat (LCHF). We also have many keto recipes. Our recipes are labeled with a net carb count for those who need to count carbs.

Weight Loss on a Low-Carb Diet

Closeup view of woman standing on a scale measuring weightlossA low-carb, high-fat diet helps to lose weight by:

  1. Suppressing appetite
  2. Improving insulin sensitivity
  3. Increasing protein intake
  4. Boosting fat loss

Obesity is linked to several health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Being obese significantly increases your risk for health complications. In addition, some people have a larger amount of belly fat around the abdomen. Having belly fat increases your risk of the same health complications even further.

A low-carb, high-fat diet can help lower obesity, especially belly fat. Noticeable changes typically happen around the 16-week mark.

Approximately 90% of people who lose weight will eventually gain it back later. This is because most diets are not sustainable. Although it may be sustainable for one person, it is the wrong diet to choose if it isn’t sustainable for you.

Health Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

There are many health benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet. Here are the main benefits:


People with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes can dramatically improve blood sugar control. As a result, less medication is needed, and eventually, you may not need any medication at all.

Heart Disease

Reducing body fat, lowering inflammation, and improving blood markers are all benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet. Cholesterol and triglycerides are reduced, while good (HDL) cholesterol is increased. As a result, blood pressure typically lowers, as well as blood sugar and LDL cholesterol. All of these factors help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Neurological Diseases

Low-carb, high-fat diets improve cognitive functioning and aid in slowing down cognitive decline. As a result, Alzheimer’s patients benefit from the diet. In addition, people with diabetes following this diet may slow down or prevent neurological diseases.

Side Effects of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

Diet changes should not take place without consulting your doctor or health physician. Although some versions of low-carb, high-fat diets are safe for almost everyone, the more restrictive diets in this category (such as keto) should not be implemented by children, teens, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, people with type 1 diabetes and those with eating disorders should consult a doctor before implementing any changes in diet.

More restrictive low-carb, high-fat diets can have negative implications and side effects.

A low-carb, high-fat diet may not be suitable for elite athletes as it can impair performance at high-level competitive events. In addition, anyone hypersensitive to dietary cholesterol would not benefit from a low-carb, high-fat diet.

Some possible side effects of strict low-carb, high-fat diets (such as keto) are:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Insomnia

Side effects are less likely to happen with a traditional low-carb, high-fat diet, like the one that Total Diabetes Wellness recommends. Many of these side effects occur because electrolytes, fiber, or other nutrients are lacking in your diet. Our recommendation for a larger range of carbohydrate consumption than a strict keto diet will help avoid most if not all of these complications because you will get needed vitamins, minerals, and nutrients directly from your food.

Foods To Eat on a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

Flat view of different low-carb foods laid out on a table.Not all proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are created equal. In a low-carb, high-fat diet, recommended foods include eggs, avocados, nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables, fish, meat and poultry, full-fat dairy products, and some oils, berries, and condiments. Natural foods are often best, but not all natural foods are good choices.

  • Nuts and seeds – Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds
  • Non-starchy vegetables – Cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and other greens
  • Fish – All fish are good, but especially high-fat fish such as salmon, trout, and sardines
  • Meat and poultry – Red meat, turkey, chicken, and venison
  • Full-fat dairy products – Cream, butter, and cheese
  • Oils – Olive, coconut, and avocado
  • Berries – In moderation, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are excellent sources of antioxidants.
  • Condiments – Fresh herbs, spices, and pepper

Foods To Avoid on a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

It is important to have an idea of what foods should be avoided. Please note that the lists provided below are just some items within a category. These lists are not comprehensive. Be sure to understand whether or not certain items are acceptable for your dietary needs.

  • Sugar and sugary drinks – Soda, juices, sweetened tea, sports drinks, chocolate milk, eggnog, and smoothies
  • Sweeteners – Sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave
  • Highly processed foods – Pre-packaged food and meats in “instant lunches” and processed deli meats. This also includes highly processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, and bacon.
  • Grains and starches – Bread, pasta, cereal, baked goods, and rice
  • Alcoholic drinks – Beer, sugary drinks, and wines. Alcohol can both increase and lower blood sugar levels.
  • Low-fat foods – Many low-fat foods are high in sugar. Foods labeled with keywords such as “diet,” “light,” “low-something” are typically not healthy. Many processed foods labeled “keto” or “low-carb” often have more carbs than their nutrition label lets on.
  • Starchy vegetables – Potatoes, corn, some squashes, etc. *Many starchy vegetables can be enjoyed in moderation; just be careful not to overindulge. 

Carbohydrate-heavy alcohol can raise blood sugar levels significantly. However, it is also important to note that hard liquors mixed with water or drinks with no sugar can substantially lower blood sugar levels. This can be extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal if not correctly monitored with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).

How To Get Started

Delicious low-carb recipes from Total Diabetes Wellness

Total Diabetes Wellness has made it easy for you to get started with a low-carb, high-fat diet. Not only do we have delicious recipes for you to browse, but we also have put together a free Diabetes Wellness Plan that includes some of our favorite recipes to help you get quickly started.

Keep in mind that your goal is to consume 100 net grams of carbohydrates or less each day. If you use recipes from our website for all of your meals, you should be within this carbohydrate range without counting carbs. 

Be cautious of snacks and desserts. If you are including lots of these in your diet, you may need to do a quick carb count to make sure your daily total isn’t too high. We recommend saving desserts and sweet treats for special occasions.

Use our Diabetes Wellness Plan to help get started.

The Bottom Line

Whether you are trying to lose weight, get rid of prediabetes, reverse type 2 diabetes, or lower insulin required for type 1 diabetes or LADA, a low-carb, high-fat diet can help accomplish your goals. The low-carb, high-fat diet prescribed by Total Diabetes Wellness will help you make changes in your diet without feeling like you are on a diet.

Our meals are designed to be delicious for everyone, including someone not implementing diet changes, and leave you feeling full until your next meal. All of our meals are tested and revised until they meet our high expectations.

Check out our delicious recipes!