Contact: Debbe Geiger
Duke University Medical Center
Low-carb diets prove better at controlling type 2 diabetes
DURHAM, NC -- In a six-month
comparison of low-carb diets, one that encourages eating carbohydrates
with the lowest-possible rating on the glycemic index leads to greater
improvement in blood sugar control, according to Duke University
Medical Center researchers.
Patients who followed the
no-glycemic diet experienced more frequent reductions, and in some
cases elimination, of their need for medication to control type 2
diabetes, according to lead author Eric Westman, MD, director of Duke's
Lifestyle Medicine Program. The findings are published online in
Nutrition and Metabolism.
glycemic diets are good, but our work shows a no-glycemic diet is even
better at improving blood sugar control," he says. "We found you can
get a three-fold improvement in type 2 diabetes as evidenced by a
standard test of the amount of sugar in the blood. That's an important
distinction because as a physician who is faced with the choice of
drugs or diet, I want a strong diet that's shown to improve type 2
diabetes and minimize medication use."
with obesity and type 2 diabetes were randomized to either a
low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (less than 20 grams of carbs/day) or a
low-glycemic, reduced calorie diet (500 calories/day). Both groups
attended group meetings, had nutritional supplementation and an
After 24 weeks, their glycemic control was
determined by a blood test that measured hemoglobin A1C, a standard
test used to determine blood sugar control in patients with diabetes.
Of those who completed the study, the volunteers in the
low-carbohydrate diet group had greater improvements in hemoglobin A1C.
Diabetes medications were reduced or eliminated in 95 percent of the
low-carbohydrate volunteers, compared to 62 percent in the low-glycemic
group. The low-carbohydrate diet also resulted in a greater reduction
"It's simple," says Westman. "If you cut out the
carbohydrates, your blood sugar goes down, and you lose weight which
lowers your blood sugar even further. It's a one-two punch."
diet is not easy for everybody. "This is a therapeutic diet for people
who are sick," says Westman. "These lifestyle approaches all have an
intensive behavioral component. In our program, people come in every
two weeks to get reinforcements and reminders. We've treated hundreds
of patients this way now at Duke and what we see clinically and in our
research shows that it works."