In a new study from University of South Australia, researchers find that people with type 2 diabetes are just as likely to lose weight and control their blood glucose levels if they follow a 5:2 diet than an ongoing daily calorie-restricted diet.
They suggest that intermittent fasting could be a solution for people with diabetes who find it difficult to stick to a diet seven days a week.
Currently, healthcare costs relating to diabetes are increasing, costing the world around US$673 billion each year and $14.6 billion per year in Australia alone.
It is the 21st century’s health epidemic and the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system.
Conventional weight-loss diets with daily energy restrictions are difficult for people to adhere to so it is important to find alternative solutions.
In the study, the researchers conducted a year-long clinical trial of 137 people with type 2 diabetes.
Half of patients followed a 5:2 diet and the others an ongoing restricted diet, consuming between 1200 and 1500 calories a day.
The team found that fasting on two non-consecutive days, consuming between 500-600 calories, and then eating normally for five other days each week not only results in weight loss but also improved blood glucose control.
Fasting is safe for people with diet-controlled type 2 diabetes, but for those using insulin and other medications linked to hypoglycaemia, blood glucose levels need to be monitored.
The study is the first long-term clinical trial comparing the different diets of people with type 2 diabetes.
The study is published in JAMA. The lead author is UniSA Ph.D. student Sharayah Carter.
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Journal: Sharayah Carter et al. Effect of Intermittent Compared With Continuous Energy Restricted Diet on Glycemic Control in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes, JAMA Network Open (2018). DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0756