A small pilot trial finds the 5:2 diet to be effective in improving the health of people with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the University of South Australia report that the 5:2 diet led to significant reductions in weight loss and blood glucose levels in a three-month trial.
The UniSA trial, which involved 35 participants, tested the effects of the 5:2 diet on people with type 2 diabetes in comparison to a daily calorie-restriction diet.
The 5:2 diet, known as the Intermittent Fasting diet, involves fasting for two non-consecutive days of the week; the calorie-restricted diet involved eating 1200 calories a day for women and 1500 calories for men. All participants were asked to walk an additional 2,000 steps per day to increase their physical activity.
“IER (intermittent energy restriction) uses short periods of severe energy restriction – 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men – followed by periods of habitual eating to achieve similar health improvements as daily dieting but unlike some IER diets, does not require non-fasting days to involve restricted dieting,” the researchers explained.
Both diets had similar reductions on weight and HbA1c (0.6%, or 6.5 mmol/mol), and all participants who were on medication reduced their dosage.
“What we found was that two days of severe energy restriction basically achieves similar results to a daily restriction diet,” said University of South Australia PhD candidate Sharayah Carter.
“One of the major struggles with weight loss is people’s ability to stick to a daily-restricted calorie diet. On top of that, people with type 2 diabetes have medication to consider. A person with diabetes is not going to be able to take the same amount of medication on those two days because they’re not eating enough food to support that medication.
“Essentially you are achieving the same total energy restriction after seven days by following the two-day restriction and getting the same results.”
The findings have led Carter’s team to continue the study over a year-long period and now plan to recruit up to 100 participants.

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