Obese Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Benefit from Very Low Carb Diet

(HealthDay News) — For obese adults with type 2 diabetes, a very low carbohydrate diet is associated with greater improvements in glycemic control and cardiovascular risk markers than an energy-matched high unrefined carbohydrate diet, according to a study published online in Diabetes Care.

Jeannie Tay, from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Adelaide, Australia, and colleagues compared the effects of a very low carbohydrate, high unsaturated/low saturated fat diet with a high-unrefined carbohydrate, low fat diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.

Participants included 115 obese adults with type 2 diabetes who were randomly assigned to 24 weeks of a hypocaloric low carbohydrate diet or an energy-matched high carbohydrate diet, combined with structured exercise.

Ninety-three participants completed the 24-week program, with similar completion rates (low carbohydrate, 79%; high carbohydrate, 82%). The researchers found that weight loss was similar between the groups (low carbohydrate: −12.0 kg vs. high carbohydrate: −11.5 kg; P≥.50), and blood pressure, fasting blood glucose and LDL cholesterol all decreased, with no diet effect (P≥.10). 

Greater reductions were seen in triglycerides, antiglycemic medication effects score and glycemic variability indices with the low carbohydrate diet (P≤.03). In participants with baseline values of HbA1c >7.8% and HDL cholesterol <1.29 mmol/L, the low carbohydrate diet induced greater reductions in HbA1c (P=.002) and greater increases in HDL cholesterol (P=.007).

“This suggests a [low carbohydrate] diet with low saturated fat may be an effective dietary approach for [type 2 diabetes] management if effects are sustained beyond 24 weeks,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Tay J et al. Diabetes Care. 2014;doi:10.2337/dc14-0845.