When it comes to diabetes, there’s no one diet that’s recommended for everyone. That’s because many types of diet plans can help you lose weight and manage your diabetes. The key is to work with your doctor or dietitian to find the type of diet that works best for you and your lifestyle. Here are a few popular diet plans you may have heard about, and how they may affect diabetes. Calorie-Counting Diet With this type of diet, you limit the amount of calories you eat every day. When you take in fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Studies show that even losing a few pounds can help you better control your diabetes. With this approach, no foods are totally off-limit, but there are some general guidelines for healthy eating: Choose non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, fruits, and whole grains most of the time. Limit high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sugar foods, such as desserts, fried foods, chips, and sweetened drinks. This is especially important when you have diabetes, because foods with added sugar or lots of carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar control. A calorie-counting diet is safe for most people with diabetes. The key is to try to get most of your calories from foods in the first bullet above. Ask your doctor or dietitian how many calories to aim for each day. He or she can also help you come up with a meal plan to meet this goal. Low-Carbohydrate, High-Protein Diet There are many versions of this type of diet and some are stricter than others. Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, and Zone are some examples. Generally, they all limit foods that are high in carbohydrates—or carbs—and replace them with foods high in protein—meats, poultry, fish and nuts—plus fresh fruits and vegetables. These diets focus on eating protein-rich foods and non-starchy vegetables, such as greens, broccoli and cucumbers. You can also have fats, such as avocados, oils and butter. Some plans allow dairy foods and beans. Most of these diet plans cut out breads, pasta, rice, and starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn. Also off-limits are foods with added sugar, such as desserts and sweetened drinks. These limitations can make these diets hard to follow for some people. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that there may be benefits to limiting carbohydrates, but more studies are needed to know for sure. Some studies have shown that these diets can help control blood sugar and lower “bad” cholesterol. Other studies did not find these benefits. It’s also not clear how much carb cutting is necessary for the best results. Some experts worry that the amount of fat in these diets is not healthy for the heart. Low-Fat Diet This type of diet limits the amount of fat in your diet to 30% or less of your total daily calories. It also limits saturated fats to less than 10% of all calories. A low-fat diet focuses on eating vegetables, whole-grain starches, low-fat dairy products, fish, and lean meats and poultry. This type of diet is often recommended for heart health. Studies have found that people with diabetes on a low-fat diet do not always have improved blood sugar control or a reduced risk of heart disease. However, the studies also show you are more likely to see these benefits if you cut back on calories and lose weight on this diet. Vegetarian Diet There are many different kinds of vegetarian diets. The most common excludes meat, poultry and fish. A vegan diet cuts out all foods that come from animals, including dairy and eggs. Vegetarian diets are generally healthy for people with diabetes, and they may help improve your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. However, you are more likely to notice these benefits if you also lose weight on the diet. It’s Your Choice According to the ADA, there is no one combination of foods groups that is best for all people with diabetes. Since weight control is so important with diabetes, the best diet for you may be one that helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Work with your doctor or dietitian to come up with a diet based on your food preferences and lifestyle choices. He or she can help you find a plan that works for you.