In a new study, researchers found that patients with type 2 diabetes who follow a strict low carbohydrate diet for six months may experience greater rates of remission compared with other recommended diets.
They say doctors might consider short term strict low carbohydrate diets for managing type 2 diabetes, while actively monitoring and adjusting diabetes medication as needed.
The research was conducted by a team at Texas A&M University and elsewhere.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes worldwide and diet is recognized as an essential part of treatment.
But uncertainty remains about which diet to choose and previous studies have reported mixed results.
In the study, the team examined the effectiveness and safety of low carbohydrate diets and very low carbohydrate diets for people with type 2 diabetes, compared with (mostly low fat) control diets.
Their findings are based on an analysis of data from 23 clinical trials involving 1,357 participants.
Low carbohydrate diets were defined as less than 26% daily calories from carbohydrates and Very low carbohydrate diets were defined as less than 10% daily calories from carbohydrates for at least 12 weeks in adults (average age 47 to 67 years) with type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that patients on low carbohydrate diets achieved higher diabetes remission rates at six months compared with patients on control diets, without adverse events.
For example, those following a low carbohydrate diet experienced, on average, a 32% absolute risk reduction in diabetes remission at 6 months.
Low carbohydrate diets also increased weight loss, reduced medication use, and improved body fat (triglyceride) concentrations at six months.
However, most of these benefits diminished at 12 months, a finding consistent with previous reviews, and some evidence showed worsening of quality of life and cholesterol levels at 12 months.
The researchers suggest doctors might consider short term low carbohydrate diets for management of type 2 diabetes, while actively monitoring and adjusting diabetes medication as needed.
Future work is needed to determine the effects of low carbohydrate diets on sustained weight loss and remission of diabetes, as well as cardiovascular mortality and major morbidity.
One author of the study is Joshua Z Goldenberg.
The study is published in The BMJ.
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