Researchers at Tulane University conducted a randomized clinical trial that evaluated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) for 150 adults before and 6 months after following the diet.
Participants were aged 40 to 70 years with an HbA1c of 6.0% to 6.9% or 42-52 mmol/mol.
HbA1c is a clinical marker for diabetes control that represents how how sugary the blood is.
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Glycated haemoglobin develops when haemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body, joins with glucose in the blood, becoming ‘glycated’.
By measuring glycated haemoglobin, clinicians are able to get an overall picture of what average blood sugar levels have been over a period of weeks/months.
Participants on a low carb diet were compared to people following a usual Western diet. Participants on a low carb diet also received diet coaching.
The study defined a low carb diet as a diet consisting of less than 40g of carbs in the first 3 months, and 60g in months 3 to 6.
After 6 months of following a low carb diet, participants on a low carb diet significantly reduced ther HbA1c by 0.23% compared with usual diet over 6 months.
People in the the usual diet group reduced HbA1c by –0.04%.
People following the low carb approach also lost an average of 5.9kg at 6 months.
The study concluded that a low carb diet led to improvements in HbA1c for people with prediabetes and early-onset type 2 diabetes.
The study adds to the growing evidence based around low carb diets demonstrating weight loss, improvements in blood pressure, mental health and quality of life for people who follow the dietary approach.
A low carb approach has been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes in 1 in 4 people.
Critics have highlighted that participants were eating fewer carbs than recommended by a low carb diet, which is defined as 130g of carbohydrates or less a day.
The study was published in JAMA Network Open.