Fuhrman vs Bernstein

So…what’s your experience been doing the furhman plant based, high fiber approach vs Bernstein’s low carb keto approach? They both point to literature “proving” their respective approaches to be the best…I tried the vegan thing for a couple of years with modest improvements in glycemic control and am currently 3 weeks into the ketogenic approach with excellent results…but I am confused by these two different approaches and trying to figure out the “right” thing…thoughts?!

Hi Alice @AliceD, I’m not going to endorse either diet plan, nor will I knock down either. Neither fits my lifestyle and neither will make my life better.

I suggest that you look closely at YOUR body needs and get advice from a knowledgable nutritionist or registered dietitian. Look at foods you enjoy eating and foods that supply what your body needs for your chosen and anticipated activities. Are you an athlete or a couch potato - yes two probable extremes.
Work to find foods you enjoy preparing, like eating and nutritious for you. What has worked for me for many, many years living with diabetes may not work for you.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. The conflict lies in the fact that the ketogenic diet works for my body but is absolutely not the foods that I love. I miss fresh fruits, I miss eating veggies without weighing them to make sure I am not eating too many carbs…

My body and lifestyle require lots of carbs - well that is what I’ve convinced myself. For years I managed a 6% HbA1c while eating an average 225 grams of carbs every day.
Yes, fruits - at least three per day for me.

I am sorry that I am seeing this only now.

I am a huge fan of Dr Fuhrman and lost close to 100lbs following his diet.
I have also tried Dr Bernstein’s and read his books. I see why it can work, it just didnt work for me.

My first question is why do you want to follow either?
is it for better glucose control?
losing weight?
Feeling better?
Lower risk of cancer/illness?

Once you know why, its a lot easier to make a decision as to which one is best for you.
They are just different, like you and I are different.
One lifestyle doesnt fit all.

If you want to change your way of eating for a better a1c, understand that you do not need either way.
You can lower your a1c by:

  • Finding your right Basal
  • correct I:C
  • Pre-bolusing (that 15 minutes headstart really does make a difference)
  • Keeping your numbers in the lower section of your range at night, which is a third of your day

These, in my opinion, would help you most in lowering your a1c and having a high time in range.

I personally do not like Dr Bernstein diet because it is very strict.

  • Eat the same amount around the same time every day.
  • NO fruits,
  • little vegetables (less than a cup per meal),
  • same amount of protein and fat,

That is not me. Yet for some people, that works great. The fact that it provides a low a1c, and low numbers with little variation, some people are willing to compromise a lot to be able to get that.

Dr Fuhrman also strives for low a1c and low numbers. but his diet is aimed at everyone, not just diabetics.
He does prefer we eat similar every day, but then again, his way is more flexible.

  • you can eat as much as you want of his unlimited food, (a minimum of a pound/day)
  • one serving of limited food (starchy food or grains)
  • 1/2 cup of beans per meal (for diabetics only) -non diabetics should aim for a minimum of a cup a day
  • 3-4 fruits a day
  • Nuts and seeds (an ounce or more a day), avocado (1/4 - 1/2 daily)
  • He even allows some meat and dairy on occasion. (up to 3x/week)

if you were vegan in the past, I am sure you understand that a vegan diet doesnt mean a healthy diet. You could eat pasta and oreos every day, all day, and call yourself a vegan.
A plant-based diet, Dr Fuhrman’s way of eating, is based on nutrients in food; Micro-nutrients hence his followers are often called Nutritarians.

From experience, I have a better I:C following Dr F’s way of eating then I do following Dr B.

plant based eating, I can easily get between 1:15 and 1:21 as opposed to following low-carb where I can barely get 1:5, plus i have to bolus for half of the protein.
My basal, following a plant based diet is around 8
My basal following dr B is around 12

in overall, I used less insulin following dr F than dr B, I also ate more food, had a lot more energy and slept better. As a woman, my face, skin and menstrual cycle were also much better following dr F.

with both of them, you can lose weight. and weight loss typically means lower insulin needs and healthier life.
Both of them, while achieving lower sugar numbers, you will feel better. (passed the detox or keto-flu phase)

Have you read books from either doctors?
My question is, if you are doing keto right now, how are you feeling? how are your numbers? how long do you plan on following the keto diet?

Here are some of Dr Fuhrman’s concerns with keto:
High intake of animal products increase long term risk of cancer and diseases (by increasing IGF1 hormones and other factors)
High intake of animal fat increases insulin resistance
increases risk of cardiac arrhythmia and electrolyte imbalance

here are some links that discuss his opinion more on keto, low-carb dieting.



As for Dr Bernstein’s opinion on Dr F’s way of eating. Other than high carb way of eating, I havent really heard anything about plant-based. (except for one youtube video from a dr B follower who trashed dr F with a lot of misinformation. I doubt he really read dr F’s books) Doctor B also doesnt talk much about Micro-nutrients.

Just like Keto diets really came about to help prevent and minimize seizures, if it helps having a better control of diabetes, which would lead to a better, healthier and longer life, my opinion is, why not?

Dont hesitate to write back if you have any questions.
All the best

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