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.