Diabetes and going low carb?

Diabetes and going low carb?

The benefits and summary of evidence...

There is evidence to support a diet low in carbohydrate for the management of type 2 diabetes. The data shows an improvement in blood sugar levels in the short-term, improvement to diabetes symptoms as well as weight loss 

Some people find this approach works well for them and they cope well on a diet of 50-130g carbs per day. However, it is not for everyone and some struggle to stick to the diet long-term. The data is also unclear as to whether the weight loss and improvements to blood sugar are maintained after 12 months.

The risks...

If you are taking diabetes medication or insulin, you should consult a doctor or dietitian before starting a low carb diet. Going carb-free or low carb could cause some unpleasant side effects and cause hypos in those taking insulin or gliclazide.

There are also questions about the overall balance of nutrients in a low carb diet. Reducing carbohydrate usually means eating more protein or fats. More research and attention are needed on the effect of this, as some diets higher in fat could raise blood cholesterol levels and heart disease risk.

Keto diets are an extreme approach with a carb intake less than 50g per day. Keto diets have been shown to help those living with epilepsy, but their use in diabetes is less clear, and not without risks!

An alternative safer approach...

Weight loss remains the cornerstone of type 2 diabetes remission (if appropriate for the individual). Low carb or even keto diets tend to work simply because they create a calorie deficit. The same can be achieved without cutting out a food group. Remember carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, and many of us feel rubbish without them. It could be more beneficial long-term to reduce carb portions and swap to wholegrain options as part of a healthy diet.

More information at Diabetes UK