Proponents of a high-carb, low/no-fat, vegan lifestyle (buzzword: “plant-based”) claim that  it will “cure” diabetes. However, this dietary lifestyle must be maintained or diabetes symptoms will return. Success is not promised unless you are totally “plant-based” (dietary vegan, with no eggs or dairy), eating only vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes with no sugar and no oil. The only fat permitted is that found naturally in whole foods such as avocados and olives. Does not restrict calories or carbohydrate intake.


Credit for graphic from 

Approach High-carb, Low/no-fat (Vegan)
Major Proponents Weimar NEWSTART®, John McDougall, Neal Barnard, Caldwell Esselstyn (primarily heart disease not diabetes); ); earlier proponents include Dean Ornish, Robert Pritikin
Lifestyle Required Strict vegan diet required (NO animal products)
Description Weimar Program based on eight fundamental principles proven to help you achieve optimum health: Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest, and Trust. Nutrition is a vegan diet of unprocessed foods with no sugar and no oil. Requires walking a minimum of 5 miles (10,000 steps) every day. Does not restrict carbohydrate intake.
Rationale Based on the premise that body fat causes insulin resistance, the rational is that this kind of diet (only vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes) promotes weight loss and helps to reverse insulin resistance.
Calories Calories not restricted
Macronutrient Percentages 50-70% from complex carbohydrates, 10-20% from fat of vegetable origin, and 5-10% protein from vegetable origin
Carbohydrates No restriction on amount of carbohydrates within allowed list of foods
Fats No fats allowed if overweight. Once normal weight is achieved, may have small amounts of foods like avocados, olive, and nuts, but never any extracted oils like olive oil or coconut oil.
Protein (meat, eggs, dairy) No animal flesh, eggs, or dairy products
Fiber 50-80 grams/day
Fruits All whole fruits, avoid juice
Grains Whole grains, avoid flours
Legumes All beans, peas, and lentils
Vegetables All vegetables allowed, especially starchy
Processed Foods Avoid. Most should be whole foods.
Exercise Weimar’s requirement is to walk 5 miles (10,000 steps) every day. In the McDougall Program, the only exercise required is “a nice daily walk.”
Water 8 glasses/day
Information & Resources


Diabetes Undone
An online video course from Life & Health

Full Plate Diet
Plant-based, focus on fiber for “superfoods”

High-Carb, Low-Fat Diet For Diabetes

Low-Fat, High-Carb Diets Reverse Insulin Resistance

Reversing Diabetes: Carbs Are Good For You

Simple Care for Diabetes
McDougall approach

The high-carbohydrate diet in diabetes management.

Vegan Diet Eases Nerve Pain of Diabetes

The Raw Food Diet 101>

Can a Vegetarian Diet Help Type 2 Diabetes?

Mastering Diabetes
A collaboration of “Forks Over Knives”

On-site Programs

These are mostly on-site programs, ranging from one day to multiple weeks. Most are not specific to diabetes but just mention diabetes as one of many physical ailments that their “lifestyle” program claims to help.

Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP)
Developed by Hans Diehl, DrHSc, MPH, FACN, program founder and Clinical Professor of Preventative Medicine at Loma Linda University. Recommends adopting a whole-food plant-based eating pattern.

Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes
Based on a low-fat, high-carb, vegan diet

NEWSTART® (Weimar Institute)
Based on “Eight Laws of Health,” with low-fat, high-carb, vegan diet. Not specifically for diabetes but general overall health.

TakeTEN (St. Helena Medical Center)
10-day lifestyle medicine program that combines medicine, lifestyle, fitness, (vegan) nutrition, and health

The McDougall Program – Diabetes
Plant-food based diet and exercise

Additional resources in Books, Movies, and Videos.

3 thoughts on “High-carb, low/no-fat, vegan (“plant-based”)

  1. I have always admired the Seventh Day Adventists. Your commitments shine through in every day life. I became diabetic doing a high carb, low fat, vegetarian diet. It scares me to go on one again. However, I’m pretty sure that I did not do it 100% correctly. What is your experience in people turning their diabetes around with this diet? I prefer the foods you eat, but I am thinking….if it made me sick…should I really try it again but with a new more balanced approach? Low carb in the last 10 years has seemed to work better.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Beverly! Your experience is a common one. High-carb low-fat, especially if not vegan, does not work very well for reversing (or preventing) diabetes. From my own experience and observation of other diabetics, low-carb high-fat moderate-protein works best for most people in controlling diabetes. This approach can be vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, or Adventist non-vegetarian (no pork or shellfish). If the high-carb low-fat diet made you sick and precipitated your diabetes, I definitely would not try it again! You certainly CAN eat low-carb high-fat moderate-protein as a vegetarian! Please feel free to browse other pages of this site for details on how to accomplish this. Best wishes to you on your journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.