2000 Calorie Diabetic Diets

Is there a good diabetic diet?

Do 2000 calorie diabetic diets work? Historically, the American Diabetic Association (ADA) has loosely prescribed what has been known as “2000 calorie good diabetic diet.” Although this diet has never been clearly defined, the term traditionally meant a specific calorie level determined by a physician, with special recommendations for the proper percentages of the macronutrients. Macronutrient is a term for the major components of what we eat, like building blocks, and include:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrate
  • Fat

However, when people today ask, “do 2000 calorie diabetic diets work?” the ADA has a new message. The ADA no longer endorses any one meal plan or specific percentage of macronutrients. The current approach is to tailor each diet to the individual – because different people have different needs. “We often say that a good diabetic diet is really just a good diet,” says ADA spokesman Nathaniel Clark, MD. “We have tried to get away from the concept that there is a special diet that people must follow when they have diabetes. Somebody with diabetes can eat anything that anyone else can eat. They just need to be far more careful about how they eat.” Clark also added, “One-diet-fits-all is no longer the best approach to controlling diabetes.”

So, when considering the effectiveness of a 2000 calorie ADA diet, the answer appears to be both yes and no. Consider a study done by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and funded by the National Institutes of Health where doctors and researchers attempted to answer the question: do 2000 calorie diabetic diets work? In the study, one group of participants adhered to a traditional 2000 calorie good diabetic diet, while the other group ate by a strict vegan (no animal products) diet.

The 2000 calorie good diabetic diet had these recommendations:

  • 15 to 20% protein.
  • Less than 7% saturated fat.
  • 60-70% carbohydrates and monounsaturated fats.
  • Cholesterol allowed up to 200 mg/day.

In trying to answer the question do 2000 calorie diabetic diets work, the study showed that each of the diets (the 2000 calorie good diabetic diet and the low-fat vegan diets) had remarkable results for study participants. The diabetic and vegan diets both:

  • Significantly improved glycemic control.
  • Reduced cardiovascular and other risk factors.
  • Prevented or delayed the need for insulin injections.

However, in this study, the participants on the vegan diets lost even more weight than those on the 2000 good diabetic diets, and had lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Dr. Barnard, the spokesperson for the study, said that the vegan diet “appears remarkably effective, and all the side effects are good ones – especially weight loss and lower cholesterol.”


Yes, 2000 calorie diabetic diets work, and they do promote health – however there may be better (and more efficient!) dieting options to help people reach certain goals.

Also, when considering 2000 calorie diabetic diets, understand that the new philosophy is a “consistent-carbohydrate diabetic meal plan.” This plan uses a consistent carbohydrate count over other factors, such as total calories. Tips for the new approach:

  • Keep in mind that a serving or rice or pasta is the size of a tennis ball.
  • If a food has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving, you may subtract the total fiber grams from the total carbohydrate grams, thus making the carbohydrate count lower.
  • The total amount of carbohydrates is more important than the source or type of carbohydrate.
  • Non-calorie sweeteners are safe when consumed within the acceptable levels established by the FDA.

If you have any questions about a good diabetic diet, please contact us.