Researchers at Imperial College London are examining the potential benefits of a very low-calorie liquid diet for people with type 2 diabetes.
The study builds on the findings of the ‘Newcastle diet’ research. The 2011 study found that, by restricting 11 patients to 600 calories or fewer per day, they lost weight and improved their blood glucose control. Seven of the 11 participants were free from diabetes after three months of the study.
The diet has proved popular among people with type 2 diabetes. However, it, like other very low-calorie diets, is not supposed to be followed over an extended period of time. They are short-term methods to bring type 2 diabetes under control, and they need to be followed up with something more sustainable.
As promising as the Newcastle diet was, it was also in some ways limited. For one thing, it only examined 11 patients. A bigger study was needed to analyse the diet’s effects.
The Imperial College London study aims to more comprehensively explore the effects of very low-calorie liquid diets on people with type 2 diabetes.
In total, 90 participants who have had type 2 diabetes for more than 20 years will take part. The participants will be split evenly into two groups: the first group will follow a liquid-based low-calorie diet for three months. The diet will consist of soups and shakes, and it will provide a total of 800 calories per day. After three months, the researchers will slowly re-introduce food.
The second group will receive NHS Gold Standard Clinical Care, which is made up of a low-calorie diet and regular exercise.
“Low-calorie diets could transform diabetes treatment, and provide a drug-free way of treating and even reversing the condition,” said Adrian Brow, a specialist dietitian at Imperial, and coordinator of the study.
“We hope that this trial, the largest of its kind to date, will provide us with further evidence of the effectiveness of this new approach.”
However, Brown warned that type 2 diabetes should not adopt a low-calorie diet without first consulting their diabetes team.
Catherine Collins, Principal Dietitian at St. George’s Hospital in London, also points out the potential dangers associated with very low-calorie diets and type 2 diabetes:
“Very low-calorie diets for type 2 diabetes may prove useful for those battling weight issues, but blood sugar will need to be monitored carefully to avoid it from dropping too low.”

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