In recent years, there has been a wealth of research studies showing low-carb diets to be very effective for people with diabetes.

Despite the success of low-carb diets, the UK still advises people with diabetes, and the population in general to consume a low-fat diet that is much higher in carbohydrate.

As more and more research supporting low-carb diets appear, the recommendation to follow a low-fat diet is becoming more and more controversial

Low-carb research and type 2 diabetes

Research into low-carb diets in people with type 2 diabetes typically show that low-carb diets are at least as good as low-fat diets.

Low-carb diets tends to perform significantly better in terms of:

Low-carb diets are usually either as effectives, or slightly more so, than low-fat diets in terms of:

Improved remission

A 2014 study by the Second University of Naples, showed that a low-carbohydrate Mediterranian diet produced significantly greater remission rates than a low-fat diet.

The study showed that the low-carb diet led to 14.7% of participants achieving remission in the first year and 5% achieving remission after six years.

By comparison, those following the low-fat diet had remission rates of 4.1% after the first year and 0% after six years.

Lower HbA1c

When low-carb and low-fat diets have been directly compared, low-carb diets have typically outperformed the low-fat diets.

Rock et al. (2014): A comparison of equal calorie slimming club diets showed the low-carb diet to be more effective in reducing HbA1c, body weight, triglycerides and total cholesterol. [278]

Mayer et al. (2013): A low-carb diet outperformed a low-calorie, low-fat diet that was supplemented with the weight loss drug Orlistat. The results showed similar weight loss, whereas the low-carb diet was most effective at reducing HbA1c levels and dependence on medication. [279]

Westman et al. (2008): A low-carb ketogenic diet was compared with a low- glycemic index diet. The low-carb group had a significantly greater reduction in HbA1c than the low-GI diet group. (17 mmol/mol compared with 6 mmol/mol). The low-carb group also showed the greatest improvements in terms of improved cholesterol levels and reduced dependency on diabetes medication. [79]

Low-carb research and type 1 diabetes

Whilst most research studies into low-carb and diabetes focus on type 2 diabetes, there has been a few studies that have looked at the effects of the diet for type 1 diabetes

The studies that have been carried out have been limited to one research team from the Department of Medicine at Blekingesjukhuset, in Karlsham, Sweden.

Nielsen et al. (2012): This study looked at the effects of a diet of 75g of carbohydrate per day on adults with type 1 diabetes. Whilst there was no control group involved, the study showed that those adhering to the low-carb diet had a significantly lower HbA1c (46 mmol/mol) after four years of following the diet to those that were not able to keep to the diet (57 mmol/mol). [195]

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