Scientists from King Saud University found that a very low-carb keto diet may benefit people with type 2 diabetes in the short term.
The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a low-carbohydrate, fat-rich eating plan that has been used for centuries to treat specific medical conditions.
In 1920 it was introduced as an effective treatment for epilepsy in children in whom medication was ineffective.
The ketogenic diet has also been tested and used in closely monitored settings for cancer, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The ketogenic diet is distinctive for its exceptionally high-fat content, typically 70% to 80%, though with only a moderate intake of protein.
There is renewed interest in using very low-carb keto diets to manage diabetes. Many clinical studies have been published, often with mixed results.
In the current study, researchers aimed to compare the effect of a very low-carb keto diet on blood sugar control, body weight, blood cholesterol, medication use, and dropouts with that of recommended diets for 12 weeks or longer in people with type 2 diabetes.
The team reviewed published clinical studies comparing a very low-carb keto diet (carbohydrate intake < 50 g/d or < 10% of total energy) with any recommended diet for type 2 diabetes in adults.
They included 8 studies with 648 participants in their review and meta-analysis.
The researchers found that compared with control diets, the very low-carb keto diet led to a greater decrease in blood sugar.
There was a much greater weight loss with the very low-carb keto diet after 3 months and after 6 months.
But the very low-carb keto diet was not better than a control diet after 12 months.
The diet was superior in decreasing triglyceride levels, increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol) levels, and reducing the use of antidiabetic medications for up to 12 months.
Based on the findings, the team concludes that the very low-carb keto diet appears to control blood sugar and decrease body weight for up to 6 months in people with obesity and diabetes.
There are also beneficial changes in triglycerides and ‘good’ cholesterol, along with reductions in antidiabetic medications until 12 months.
However, the team cautions that the quality of currently available evidence is not sufficient to recommend very low-carb keto diets.
A major limitation of the very low-carb keto diet is patients’ lack of adherence to carbohydrate restriction.
The research was published in Nutrition Reviews and conducted by Mohamed Rafiullah et al.
If you care about diabetes, please read studies that eating more eggs is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and people with a high intake of linoleic acid have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing Mediterranean diet could help reduce the diabetes risk by 30%.
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