- Researchers recently examined the effects of a low-carb diet in people with prediabetes and people with mild, untreated type 2 diabetes (T2D).
- In a randomized clinical trial, participants who reduced carbohydrates noted a moderate decrease in blood sugar, an indicator of diabetes.
- The study results were mitigated somewhat by a set of variables beyond the researchers’ control.
The link between carbohydrates and type 2 diabetes (T2D) is well established, but new research suggests that reducing carbohydrates can help reduce risk for those who may be at risk of developing the condition.
The study, a randomized clinical trial (RCT) was recently published in
Lead author and epidemiologist Kirsten S. Dorance from Tulane University in New Orleans, Los Angeles, said Medical news today:
“While low-carb diets are often recommended for those with type 2 diabetes, there is little evidence for whether eating fewer carbohydrates can affect blood sugar in people with mild diabetes or people with diabetes who are not being treated with medication. This study was conducted on people who had blood sugar levels that ranged from prediabetes to mild levels of diabetes and who were not taking diabetes medications.”
Hemoglobin A1C It is a clinical term widely used for the long-term measurement of blood sugar levels.
according to American Diabetes FoundationA person with prediabetes has A1C levels between 5.7 and less than 6.5%. High A1C levels may indicate diabetes.
Dr. Doran explained that people enrolled in the study had a hemoglobin A1C range of 6.0 to 6.9%.
“This range chosen as the minimum is in line with
For the study, 150 adults were recruited at an academic center in New Orleans. The experiment lasted for 6 months from September 2018 to June 2021. The participants’ ages ranged from 40 to 70 years and they were divided into two groups.
The first group was tasked with reducing their daily carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams in the first three months and less than 60 grams from the third month until the end of the trial.
“We found that dietary advice that encouraged a low-carb diet lowered hemoglobin A1C over a 6-month period,” said Dr. Doran.
“In line with previous work, the low-carb diet group also lost significantly more weight compared to the group of people who continued their usual diet.”
At the end of 6 months, Dr. Doran and her research team found that A1C levels were 0.23% lower in the low-carb group than in the regular diet group.
Low-carb diets, such as the ketogenic diet, may start the metabolic process known as ketosis, which occurs when the body burns stored fat for energy instead of glucose.
But ketosis does not usually occur with a low-carb diet.
According to the study authors, “a small number of participants had detectable urinary ketones, indicating that it is unlikely that ketosis was responsible for the results.”
still, Dr.. Samuel KleinA professor of cell biology and physiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who was not involved in the study, expressed concerns about study participants meeting their carbohydrate goals.
Tell MNT The data “show that there is poor compliance with the diet”.
“this does not mean [study participants] They did not reduce their carbohydrate intake, but they did not achieve the set goals. If they are more compliant, [there] Perhaps it was a bigger change. They must have changed their carbohydrate intake, which reduced their calorie intake. It doesn’t look like she was ketogenic.”
Dr. Samuel Klein Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology
The authors note a limitation of the study:
“There was a significant reduction in calorie intake in the low-carbohydrate diet intervention group during follow-up, consistent with significant weight loss. With this study design, we cannot perform isocaloric Comparison of the low-carb groups with the usual diet or to determine the effects on HbA1 c [hemoglobin A1C] independently of weight loss,” the authors wrote.
Dr. Klein noted the amount of contact the carb-reducing group had with study participants providing guidance versus the regular diet group.
Both groups were provided with a brochure containing nutritional instructions and recipes at the start of the experiment.
To help achieve the goal of less than 40 grams of carbs, the carb-reduction group received one-on-one sessions, along with four group sessions in alternating weeks and four phone follow-ups. For the 60-gram goal, there were three monthly group meetings and three phone calls.
The normal diet group was offered optional monthly sessions but did not receive directions other than the initial handouts.
“There was significantly more connectivity in the treatment group than in the control group,” Dr. Klein said.
Dr. Jason Nga clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, not involved in the study, said MNT:
“Improving sugar levels by eating fewer carbohydrates can be an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes. This may or may not affect weight loss, as weight loss has many variables to consider. However, if you have With prediabetes or mild type 2 diabetes, this intervention can lower your sugar levels even if the person does not experience associated weight loss.”
Dr. Klein added that when you reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your fat intake, “you tend to increase your LDL cholesterol, which wasn’t the case here, but you decrease your triglycerides and you increase your HDL cholesterol, which is a good thing.”
But whether a low-carb diet is dangerous to health may really depend on the individual.
“I would say we don’t have good evidence of long-term negative effects. We know a lot of people are on the Atkins diet, and we don’t see any real reports of problems.