The RAD Diet


The RAD (rare adipose disorders) diet has been developed by Dr Karen Herbst, an endocrinologist from the University of California, San Diego. This diet is designed for those who suffer with disorders related to abnormal fat deposits such as Lipedema. It promotes foods that are easy to digest and that reduce inflammation.
The essentials of the RAD diet are as follows: Lower consumption of pasteurized dairy products, animal protein and fats, simple sugars and carbohydrates (low glycemic), salt and wheat or processed flour products, while enriching the diet with organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins. Avoid foods that contain lots of chemicals such as artificial preservatives, flavors, fake sweeteners like aspartame, colors and stabilizers which includes most prepared, packaged and fast foods.  A lot of packaged foods have advanced glycation end products or AGEs that can cause damage in the body and increase the risk for diabetes and alzheimers.  Cooked foods also have AGEs so raw foodists also support lowering your AGE consumption.

1. Lower fat consumption as fats are absorbed directly into the lymphatics.
2. Eat low glycemic index foods to lower insulin levels – insulin makes fat grow.
3. Eat lots of fresh vegetables that have enzymes that are absorbed into the lymphatics and in essence “roto-rooter” out the stagnant protein.  You can add enzymes with advice from your healthcare provider.
4. Lower your salt intake if you are able so you retain less water/fluid.
5. Each time we eat we generate inflammation as the lymph system surrounds the gut.  Rest the gut by taking a day off and eating liquid type foods such as soups, stews (without meat or at least with pulled meats), smoothies, protein shakes, applesauce, juiced vegetables and fruits.


Refined food with high sugar content can wreak havoc with our bodies. There’s lot of information out there on which foods are the worst culprits for this in the low GI/GL diet. Such diets are widely used to control type 2 diabetes as well as PCOS. Eating low glycemic index foods (foods that digest more slowly, controlling blood sugar levels and leaving you fuller for longer) will lower insulin levels. This is important because insulin makes fat grow.

Here’s a basic list of foods to avoid, but you should make a general rule of limiting sugary foods and drinks as well as anything white, refined and processed.

Simple carbs and sugars

  • Sugars & sweeteners (including honey, agave and others)
  • Fruit juices (lemon & lime are okay)
  • White rice
  • White pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Breakfast cereals (including cornflakes, crisped rice, granola, instant oats)
  • Cakes, muffins, pastries, cookies
  • ALL alcohol. Alcohol is made from sugar, there is no such thing as a ‘low sugar’ alcohol

Be warned: many diet foods will market themselves as wholefoods while still having excessive amounts of sugar and refined ingredients. Diet crisps (French Fries, Quavers, ‘BAKED’ Walkers) and popped corn or rice cakes (Snack-a-Jacks) are some of the worst offenders.

Pastuerization is a process by which milk is heated in order to remove potentially dangerous bacteria, though in doing so much of the nutritional value of milk is removed. The RAD diet advises that you limit the amount of pasteruized milk products you consume. This includes:

  • Most cheeses (unless otherwise specified, always check the back)
  • All UHT treated milk

Animal proteins & fats

Lowering your intake of red and fatty meats can be beneficial, because fats are absorbed directly into the lyphamatics of lipoedema sufferers. The following should be avoided:

  • All red meats (steak, mince, lamb, duck, mutton, goat, pork)
  • Fattier meat cuts – chicken thighs, briskets, shoulders, stewing cuts, bacon, gammon, sausage, most mince


Lower your salt intake! Like sugar, when consumed in excessive amounts, salt is toxic. This especially true for sufferers of lipoedema as more water/fluid is retained – salt will only make this much, much worse.


Liquid foods

Dr Herbst recommends eating more liquid foods. This is because each time we eat we generate inflammation as the lymph system surrounds the gut. Rest the gut by taking a day off and eating more liquid type foods such as:

  • Soups
  • Stews (if with meat, then make sure it’s pulled)
  • Protein shakes
  • Smoothies

Healthy proteins – lean meat and fish

Proteins are part of a balanced diet, though not all are the same. Stick to the following proteins when you’re on the RAD diet (always going for organic, non-farmed varieties where you can):

  • Chicken breast
  • Lean turkey or chicken mince
  • Mycroproteins (e.g. Quorn)
  • Fish and various seafoods (salmon, tuna, cod, haddock, plaice, prawns etc)
  • Eggs

Organic fruits & vegetables

You are of course unlimited in the amount of fruit and vegetables you can eat, though some are better than others. Dr Herbst recommends increasing the amount of raw vegetables that you eat, because this increases the advanced glycation end products which can cause damage in the body. Here are the best vegetables (based on GI rating):

  • Green peas
  • Cucumber
  • Sweetcorn
  • Raw carrots
  • Eggplant/aubergine
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Chillies
  • Dark green leafy veg (spinach, curly kale)
  • All lettuces
  • Red, green and yellow peppers
  • Onions (of all kinds)

Wholegrains & low GI carbohydrates

Carbs are not your enemy – you just have to eat them in the right proportions. Here’s a list of low glycemic carbs:

  • All Bran
  • Oat bran
  • Rolled oats
  • Natural muesli
  • Shredded wheat
  • Soya & linseed breads
  • Pumpernickel
  • Rye bread
  • Heavily seeded, wholewheat breads
  • Ryvitas (especially dark rye)
  • Wheat pasta shapes
  • Brown rice
  • Pearled barley
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Wholewheat tortillas

6 comments on “The RAD Diet”

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