Low-carb diets better than low-fat for type 2 diabetes: Study

By Anne Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Low-carb diets better than low-fat for type 2 diabetes: Study

Related tags Low-carbohydrate diet Nutrition

A low-carb diet may be superior to a low-fat diet in improving the health-related quality of life for type 2 diabetes sufferers, new Swedish research suggests.

The new follow up study looks at a previous clinical trial in patients with type 2 diabetes, which was led by Dr Hans Guldbrand, general practitioner, and Fredrik Nystrom, professor of internal medicine at Linköping University.

The initial study was conducted with 61 patients with diabetes at Linkoping University in Sweden.

The patients were randomised either to a low-carbohydrate diet or to a traditional low-fat diet, both with a caloric content of 1600 kcal for women or 1800 kcal for men.

That two-year clinical trial, previously published in the journal Diabetologia​, studied the effects on blood glucose and blood lipids of a low-carbohydrate diet compared to a low-fat diet.

It was found that both diet-groups reduced weight equally but the effect on blood glucose was better in the low-carbohydrate group.

Associate Professor Margareta Bachrach-Lindström has now analysed the impact of the two types of diets on wellbeing.

The new analysis was based on a 36 item questionnaire covering eight areas of health; physical functioning, role limitations due to physical problems, bodily pain, general health, vitality, social function, role limitations due to emotional problems and mental health with one final question rating health status over the year.

Improved general health

The analysis found that after 12 months in the trial, the low-carbohydrate group reported improved physical function, bodily pain and general health. No improvements were seen in the low-fat group, despite weight loss.

Mental health was similar for both groups and remained unchanged during the study period and did not differ between the groups.

The result is interesting; it provides an additional argument that a low-carbohydrate diet is beneficial in diabetes​”, commented Hans Guldbrand.

The low-fat group described the diet as easy to follow, tasty and cheap in price. The low-carbohydrate group reported they felt less hungry and were less prone to eat sweets.



Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice

DOI: 10.1016/j.diabres.2014.08.032

“Randomization to a low-carbohydrate diet advice improves health related quality of life compared with a low-fat diet at similar weight-loss in Type 2 diabetes mellitus​”

Authors: H. Guldbrand, T. Lindström, B. Dizdar, B. Bunjaku, C.J. Östgren, F.H. Nyström and M. Bachrach-Lindström.



2012; 55: 2118–2127

“In Type 2 diabetes, randomisation to advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet transiently improves glycaemic control compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet producing a similar weight loss.”

Authors: Guldbrand, H., Dizdar, B., Bunjaku, B., Lindstrom, T., Bachrach-Lindstrom, M., Fredrikson, M. et al. 

Related topics R&D

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Posted by KD,

Susan as per your confusion regarding the definition of low-carb or low fat, you can read it in the fulltext of the research paper. Here's the link and go to the methods section (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390696/)

The LCD (low carb diet) had an energy content where 50 energy per cent (E%) was from fat, 20 E% was from carbohydrate and 30 E% was from protein. The LFD (low fat diet) had a nutrient composition that was similar to that traditionally recommended for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in Sweden, with 30 E% from fat (less than 10 E% from saturated fat), 55–60 E% from carbohydrate and 10–15 E% from protein.

Hope it helps..

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Posted by Libby,

I'm only supposed to eat 20 (maybe 25) carbs every four hours AND it has to be low-fat. Since I hate to cook and most "low carb" recipes (or convenience foods) have more carbs or are too high fat or have items I either hate or am allergic to, meals have become increasingly frustrating and anxiety causing. To add to the frustration, I'm a very atypical Type II so there's not a support group I fit into. In fact, I don't need to lose weight and my blood sugar levels are completely diet/exercise controlled (though I have some diabetes related issues). At least this article didn't contain a link to low carb recipes that aren't low carb enough for me, which is usually the case.

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Diabetes and "low-carb" diets

Posted by Susan,

These types of articles are so frustrating because they don't define "low-carb" - is it 20 grams of carbs per day? Is it 30% of calories per day? What is the definition? Same with "low-fat"!

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