The 2-Day Diabetes Diet: What to Eat to Lose Weight

In the new Reader's Digest book, The 2-Day Diabetes Diet, dieting just two days a week blasts fat and balances blood sugar.

from Reader's Digest Magazine | September 2013
Travis Rathbone
Dinner: Spinach-Stuffed Meat Loaf

For folks with diabetes, weight loss is a natural form of “medication.” Reams of research prove that losing even just a few pounds is an effective way to control blood sugar or reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.

But in an ironic twist, losing weight may be more difficult if you have type 2 diabetes. And the reason isn’t just a lack of willpower. Too often, diet plans don’t work for people with diabetes because the metabolism changes associated with blood sugar problems may increase appetite, slow down fat burning, and encourage fat storage.

Now breakthrough research has revealed a better way for people to lose weight and reduce insulin resistance. The secret is a concept called intermittent fasting.

British researchers created this revolutionary new diet, which strictly limits caloric intake for two days of the week but permits larger portions for the remainder. Women who followed the plan lost almost twice as much fat as those who restricted calories every day. Within three months, participants reduced insulin resistance by 25 percent more on nonfast days and inflammation by 8 percent more than people who dieted continuously.

Why Does this Particular Diabetes Diet Plan Work?

It counteracts the effects of “diabesity,” where blood sugar problems and excess body fat meet. Just a small amount of excess weight and a genetic tendency for metabolism problems can trigger a cascade of health issues, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, immune system problems, and hormonal imbalances.

Why it’s better to diet part-time.

This constellation of health problems is caused by a modern lifestyle that is out of sync with our genetic inheritance. Researchers theorize that because humans evolved during alternating periods of feast and famine, many of us inherited various “thrifty genes” that cause us to conserve energy (hoard fat stores) when calories are scarce and swiftly store energy (plump up fat cells even more) when food is plentiful. Thousands of years ago, humans with robust sets of thrifty genes were much likelier to survive and pass them on to future generations.

But now our thrifty bodies are confronted with an abundance of food and no famine. As a result, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Once we gain a little bit, the first hints of diabesity set in, making the upward progression of the scale hard to stop.

This excess fat also causes chronic inflammation. Fat tissue contains an abundance of immune molecules called cytokines, which respond to the excess fat as if it were an infection. This activates a process that seems to dull the body’s sensitivity to these key hormones: insulin, which cues cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream; the “stress hormone” cortisol; and leptin and ghrelin, which regulate hunger and appetite.

Researchers believe that intermittent fasting helps to reduce or quell inflammation and normalize the function of key hormones. By reversing this metabolic imbalance, intermittent fasting seems to control or prevent diabetes better than other ways of eating.

Next: You don’t have to count carbs, calories, fat grams, or anything else.

To learn more about the breakthrough science behind the 2-Day Diabetes Diet and to buy the book, visit

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  • Your Comments

    • michaelyn

      Is it just me or does this book not tell me how much equals ONE serving? For example the barley risotto says how many servings it makes but not how much one serving is. Unless I measure the entire recipe to see how many cups it makes, then divide for each serving. I read the entire book but didn’t see this info. Also the same for how much equals one fat serving. Anyone know this? Thanks a bunch.

    • Kansas Nana

      I have Type II diabetes and have followed this diet for about three weeks. I’ve lost 8 pounds! My husband (who is not diabetic) has also been following the plan (although not as strictly as I have been;) and has lost weight as well. We have enjoyed most of the recipes, but I am wondering if some of the measurements are correct. The Bouillion Vegetable Soup that calls for 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder and 1 teaspoon of black pepper for 1 serving?!!? It was inedible. I am making the baked apple for breakfast this morning and it calls for 1 tablespoon(!) of cinnamon for one apple. That can’t be right. I’m using one teaspoon. Has anyone else had problems? I’ve also noticed some other proof reading mistakes in the book (retired teacher, I can’t help it:) But I am having weight loss success and don’t feel deprived! Anxious to see my A1C at next month’s checkup….

    • DR

      Is this safe for Type 1 diabetics?

    • James Cairns

      Most diet recipes are not creative. the reason a lot of people give up, is because they get tired on the same old food day in day out.
      It is always good to have a Diabetic Diet Cookbook available for when you are looking for inspiration in creating food for the family.

    • ShirlSumm

      THe food is delicious and after just a few days my craving for sweets has lowered. It’s a little tough at the beginning to change habits, but I’m going to stick with it if not for just the healthy eating plan. Good luck everyone.

    • suzdan

      My husband and I did this! It was so easy and i went from 139 lbs to 127. and lost inches on my waist. We call his results the “Amazing Shrinking Stomach.” There is no need for any special recipes. it’s all about the calorie count. Eat what you normally do, but smaller amounts, or use more healthful ingredients to decrease the caloric value. Be sure to eat enough on the regular days so that you don’t sabotage yourself and lower your metabolic rate. Remember to have the 2 lean days be non-consecutive. We will continue this healthy nutritional lifestyle forever!

      • lvb

        did you adjust the calorie count for gender? 650 on power burn & 1500 on nourishment days – all comments and results that I see are for women. We want to do this together too.

    • Youniq Pilates

      Instead of “what to eat”, why not make a massive list of “what never to eat”in order to be a healthy individual.
      Add calories to each meal, body metabolic calculator so everyone can see how recommended daily intake is different from one person to the next? Just an idea…

    • Donna

      I am trying this diet but have altered it to be vegetarian. I will use soy burgers, soy milk, and tofu for the egg whites.

    • june

      With IBS, I am unable to eat raw onions, any peppers, garlic, curry, artificial sweetener, and several other items that are routinely a very big part of these diets. I noticed this won’t work for people who need to be gluten free, too. Any suggestions?

      • Donna

        the only flour seems to be the tortilla so if you can eat corn you could use a corn tortilla. of course you must not eat the raw things, if you can eat them cooked put them in the soup. for cereal eat rice cereal or I am substituting oatmeal which can also be made into muffins or pancakes. to one cup instant oatmeal, add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, a little applesauce, a small amount of milk so it is fairly think. form into two small pancakes or bake in muffin tins at 375 for 20 min. top with fruit.

    • Prisca

      Seriously, they did a research on this and thought it is new? I could have written a book on it and made tons of money. I have been eating this way for years not because I am diabetic, just that I wanted a diet plan that I will be able to stick to for years without feeling deprived and or bingeing. I lost weight and do not feel like I am missing out on anything. I called it Sylsmarts. Went from size 16 to 8 in under 2 yrs without exercise or drastic diet. As healthy as ever and fit….it works

      • Elaine

        Do you do the Mediterranean on the “eat” days.