Dr. Bernstein’s Low-Carb Diabetes Diet Essential features of his advise:

There have been many postings of videos in the forum about Dr Breinstein,s advise on controlling Blood sugar. What exactly was his advise and was it for Diabetes 1 or Diabetes 2 or both.? .Did he advise substituting in diet reducing carb content with high fat?. An attempt is made to understand the authentic version of his advise in this post for information of those who are interested..

Dr. Bernstein’s Low-Carb Diabetes Diet Essential features of his advise:

Dr. Richard K. Bernstein was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes over seven decades ago, created the movement to check blood sugars at home, developed a diabetes management program built on the philosophy that “everyone deserves normal blood sugars” – and then became an endocrinologist so others would take him seriously.

This article, looks at Dr. Bernstein’s diabetes diet. In essence, it is a low-carb, high-protein and moderate fat diet. He recommends this approach because it maximizes the chances for achieving normalized blood sugars..

Dr. Bernstein was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12 in 1946.Dr. Bernstein was diagnosed with diabetes during what is commonly referred to as the diabetes “dark ages”. He had to check his urine for sugar by using a test tube heated over a flame. He had to sterilize his needles and glass syringes by boiling them each day. He explains how his blood sugars were not well managed during this time. In fact, back then fat was deemed the ultimate health culprit and so he was put on a low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet. During the first two decades of his life with diabetes, he says his growth was stunted and nearly all his organs quickly began to suffer the consequences of chronic high blood sugar. Heartbreakingly, he suffered many serious complications of diabetes as a young man. Luckily, blood glucose meters were just becoming available.

In October 1969, Bernstein came across an advertisement in the trade journal Lab World. It was for a new blood glucose meter that would give a reading in 1 minute, using a single drop of blood. The device was intended for emergency staff at hospitals to distinguish unconscious diabetics from unconscious drunks. The instrument weighed three pounds, cost $650, (Adjusted for inflation, that would be $5,000 today)!

and was only available to certified physicians and hospitals.

Determined to take control of his situation, Bernstein asked his wife, a doctor, to order the instrument for him. Dr. Bernstein experimented with this meter, aiming to find out what made his blood sugar levels rise and fall.

After a few years he discovered that the only difference between a diabetic and a non-diabetic were high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels were the thing to avoid – the cause of all the complications in people with diabetes. If people with diabetes could get as close as possible to normal blood sugar levels, complications could be prevented and perhaps even reversed. Dr. Bernstein knew this could help people reverse some of their complications because he experienced this himself. Once he managed to fine tune his blood sugar checks, diet and exercise regime, he experienced what he calls “normalized” blood sugars and many of his complications reversed or improved. He felt compelled to get his life-changing news to other people with diabetes so after years of waiting for the medical community to come around to what he found, he decided to quit his job as an engineer and go to medical school at age 45. This way he could publish his findings and gain the attention of his peers. By 1983 he was a physician with his own practice and finally able to help other people with diabetes to self-monitor their blood sugar, eat a low-carb diet and exercise in a way that would create blood sugar levels as close to normal as humanly possible.

The Nutrients in Dr. Bernstein’s Low-Carb Diet

Dr. Bernstein’s low-carb diet can be described as a low-carb, high-protein and moderate fat diet. He recommends this approach because this means requiring very little insulin which he says is best for achieving normalized blood sugar. He credits this diet for his remarkable health turnaround and success managing diabetes over so many years.

Below are his views on carbs, fat and protein.


Dr. Bernstein recommends eating no more than about 30 grams of carbohydrate per day. He advises consuming 6 grams of carbs with breakfast, 12 with lunch and 12 with dinner. The way he sees it, since carbohydrates are converted into glucose once in the body, carbs are basically sugar and sugar strongly impacts blood sugar levels. He advises the avoidance of all grains, fruit, beans, starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweeteners..In his view,there are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, but there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.”


Dr. Bernstein says that fat is not evil and that it is required for survival since much of the brain is made from fatty acids. He says that the widespread problems of heart disease and obesity are all tied to too much carbohydrate and not from too much fat. .


Dr. Bernstein clarifies that, “Non-diabetics who eat a lot of protein don’t get diabetic kidney disease. Diabetics with normal blood sugars don’t get diabetic kidney disease. High levels of dietary protein do not cause kidney disease in diabetics or anyone else.”

He advocates plenty of protein in the diet and he says it is an important component of his l0w-carb diet. He does explain that protein is not zero carb. Of any serving of protein consumed, a certain part of that protein will be effectively converted to sugar in the bloodstream, but it is minimal when compared to the impact from carbohydrates.

The Law of Small Numbers

One of the most groundbreaking ideas Dr. Bernstein has putf forward is the “law of small numbers” as he calls it. One aspect of this is the “law of insulin dose absorption”. Every time you give insulin, a small varying percentage is not absorbed by the body (which is unpredictable and unavoidable). This means that blood sugar levels after giving insulin will either be higher or lower than you can predict. Dr. Bernstein explains it like this:

“When you inject insulin, you’re putting beneath your skin a substance that isn’t, according to your immune system’s way of seeing things, supposed to be there. So a portion of it will be destroyed as a foreign substance before it can reach the bloodstream. The amount that the body can destroy depends on several factors. First is how big a dose you inject. The bigger the dose, the more inflammation and irritation you cause, and the more of a “red flag” you send up to your immune system. Other factors include the depth, speed, and location of

your injection.

Your injections will naturally vary from one time to the next. Even the most fastidious person will unconsciously alter minor things in the injection process from day to day. So the amount of insulin that gets into your bloodstream is always going to have some variability. The bigger the dose, the bigger the variation.”

The law of small numbers also includes the “law of carbohydrate estimation”. Dr. Bernstein notes that the FDA allows a plus or minus 20 percent margin of error on their labeling of ingredients like carbohydrates. This throws off carb counting for people with diabetes and does so to a larger degree the more carbohydrates a food contains. Due to all these factors, Dr. Bernstein recommends low-carb eating and never giving more than 7 units of insulin in a single injection.



30 Replies

  • One of my heros. Type 1 and perfectly healthy for so many years on low carb. Type 1 under complete control. Makes T2 look like a walk in the park.

    Good post.

  • your hero recommends high protein and not high fat.Have you understood his advice properly?

  • Yup specially if reasoning is based on cooked up stories just to fit the LF range need to be ignored.

  • Read that paper in the link that was posted on same question few days back -- Barnard data. It's well explained.

  • Read it. It explains everything.

  • navin sinha

    see the link.it is explains the details


  • Do you have any evidence? The hero says in his book not to eat more than 1 pack of cards proteins in one meal -- that's once ounce protein per meal and 1.2 gm/kg body weight as protein. Your calculations were all proved wrong in the other thread on Diabetes India which was a duplicate of this thread.

    Eating 35 eggs a day or 40 ounce of chicken a day or 600 grams of Soya meal a day will be needed on your calculations to get that protein range that you calculated.

  • The calculations were absolutely correct for the parameter given.your understanding was wrong and based on your dogmatic attitude.to twist the data

  • Yea, you and your friends can never be wrong. Carry on. I leave it to the readers to see. 240 grams proteins a day for 5'4' 58 kg diabetic?. Great attempt for anyone who isn't wanting to gain weight.

    Even fitness trainer Kaizzad Capadia can't be eating that mount of proteins I think if extrapolated to his height and body weight:


  • The recommended diet could have been described as low calorie food , but not of high carb or low carb food . What suited to Bernstein and the likes may suit some and not all. WHEN BODY GETS USED TO LOW CALORIE food automatically the sense of goneness disappears and loss of strength is not . felt . It is question of individual need and suitability . A sweeping statement with generalised opinion can not be taken as truth and scientific report.

  • What you have stated is fact or your opinion..?

    Have u Read it some where or just an assumption..?

  • What I stated is not my opinion but an expression based on experience by a gentleman , a doctor , who had vast experience .FOOD should be carb limited , but it does not mean calorie limited .What is required up to the age of 24 ,is not required after that age . In case of those who do very strenuous physical work it is needed . Where major part of day people sit ,in modern day life style there is no need of all that enormous amounts of food .When carbs are restricted some diets are recommending high fats to assure the feeling of fullness and to give extra energy .But in actual experience in white collared jobs it is not needed .Calories are calories whether of fats or of proteins or of fats . Any excess is bad for health .

  • This was expected with low carb with low fats

    Low Cal diet is bound to make a person energy less

    This is not what Dr Bernstein recommended.

    We on that diet are full of energy

    All will confirm this

    So any claiming on low carb have to be analysed to find out if high fats are taken,

    If not then low energy is expected

    I had undergone low calorie 800 Cal new Castle diet prior to lchf

    So I can understand this situation

  • I don't know from where such ideas come. He never talked LOW CALORIE food. One of them equated 30 grams carbs with 20% carbs and calculated HUGE amount of proteins in diet to keep FAT low :)

    Then, there was some other guy who declared by FACE Reading that he is anemic.

  • This is the issue

    Any Tom dick and Harry comes and claims that he is on lchf and facing low energy issue without verifying the diet he is in

    Also here the basic issue is in understanding the diet advocated by Dr Richard Bernstein

    It's fats + protein with low carb

    Energy dense and certainly not low calorie

  • Since I can't produce the names , I just gave his opinion. What he meant was that going for high fat is not the only solution .Any way why should there be such volatile reaction .

  • No issues

    I know u advocate homeopathy

    Even I have respect for homeopathy as I have seen some cases in my circle

    But the issue is any misrepresentationof Dr Richard Bernstein diet will deter others from getting the benefits

    So just want to clear it

  • like it has been given many times in this forum , people are intelligent enough to decide the course of action and their family members are also there to decide for any particular diet . If some body presented his or her point , I don't see any reason to react so violently as if heavens are falling on earth . Internet is just only to express different view points and healthy arguments . There is no need to react like this , all the time making assertions about the attitude of patience , intelligence , and rational behaviour.

  • I guess you can preach about violent reaction to your friends here first as their violence is exemplified by direct insults. Let the charity begin at home.

  • Who are my friends and what did they do .

  • Read this thread in entirety and you will know what did they do.

  • Obviously 800 calories leaves one with weakness . An average person with moderate activity needs at least 1800 to 2000 calories .

  • I am sure Dr Bernstein knows more than you and he explains and talks with numbers rather than subjective opinions.

  • There could be many BERNSTEINS , with different out look , though they never came to forums .

  • There's only ONE Dr Richard Bernstein Type 1 alive 82 years, with 70 years of TYPE1 history. Don't just argue for sake of arguing. Doesn't look good.

    If you seriously want to learn about him:


  • with different personalities and different view points many people can express their arguments . This is nothing but impolite attitude .One Bernstein's point is not the only solution .

  • There could be many BERNSTEINS , with different out look

    Show me another Dr Bernstein Type 1 and talking same as this Bernstein. It's not about solution. Don't change topic.

  • He is your role model and others could have different role models and all names need not be given . What is important is idea .Take it or leave it . No body is forcing any body .

  • Take it or leave it . No body is forcing any body .

    Wish same could be understood by guys and gals that bash about what we talk and bash it without understanding even one bit about it.

  • There could be many people who have better options in the treatment of diabetes . But they might have had some reservations about the forums .