In a recent medical trial reported in the American Diabetes Association, researchers concluded that a diet low in carbohydrates and saturated fat might be an ideal solution for those with type 2 diabetes. That is, a diet high in protein and unsaturated fat — but one that limits carbohydrates — may be part of a good recipe for managing the disease and reversing the damage already done.
The rest of that recipe would still require the same medication and healthy exercise habits that are typical in therapies for type 2 diabetes. After all, the insulin resistance indicative of type 2 diabetes often needs much more help than a diet can provide to reverse the negative impacts of prolonged insulin resistance. But the diet research from the study performed by Jeannie Tay, Natalie D. Luscombe-Marsh, and more, shows promising effects on glycemic control and cardiovascular disease — two of the biggest risk factors for type 2 diabetics.
The study followed 93 participants over 24 weeks in a randomized trial to test different diets on obese adults with type 2 diabetes. One set was given a diet that consisted of 14% carbohydrates, 28% protein and 58% fat while the other set was given 53% carbohydrate, 17% protein, and 30% fat. Unlike previous studies, this study restricted both sets of patients to a saturated fat content of less than 10% of their total caloric intake. The researchers also went beyond previous studies to measure not only HbA1c levels (a measurement of insulin efficiency) but also glycemic variability and a physical activity intervention component as well.
Although both diets resulted in big improvements for glycemic control and cardiovascular disease risk markers, these improvements were the most impressive in the low carbohydrate set of subjects. For instance, subjects on the low carbohydrate diet saw a decrease in triglycerides 5 times greater than those in the high carbohydrate diet.
Of course, there are still many questions to be answered from the results in the study. One variable is certainly the effect that the physical activity program had compared to the differences within the dietary restrictions. Furthermore, it is not clear what carbohydrates the subjects were given (processed and refined versus complex, e.g.) nor what the effects would be beyond the 24-week period.