Several research studies have shown that the low-carbohydrate diet is a particularly effective method of managing type 2 diabetes without medication. (1,2,3)
The results showed that the reversal rates of type 2 diabetes in the groups that followed a low-carbohydrate diet were up to 32% higher than those that followed other eating plans.
Read on to understand what the effects of the low carb diet are on people with type 2 diabetes with supporting scientific evidence.
Understanding the low carb diet
Of the three macronutrients that provide energy from food, carbohydrates have the most significant impact on raising blood sugar and insulin levels.
If you can reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace it with protein and fat, you should start to experience lower blood sugar levels. And this is precisely what the low-carb diet is all about.
Research has identified that people who adhere to diets very high in carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates, have a much higher risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. (3)
In contrast, people with type 2 diabetes who follow a low-carbohydrate diet begin to experience better insulin sensitivity. Some people may find that their insulin sensitivity has improved enough to no more prolonged need diabetes medications. (1,2)
Impact of low carbohydrate diets on diabetics
Researchers analyzed data from 23 clinical studies based on 1,360 people with type 2 diabetes to understand the impact of a low-carb diet better. (2)
Participants followed a low-carb diet for at least 12 weeks, where 26 percent of their daily calories came from carbohydrates.
Participants’ health and well-being (blood sugar levels, weight loss, quality of life, and adverse health effects) were assessed at six and 12 months.
The researchers found that people who followed a low-carbohydrate diet experienced higher remission rates of diabetes at six months compared to those who did not adhere strictly to a low-carbohydrate diet.
Those who followed a low-carbohydrate diet also experienced weight loss, healthier body fat concentrations, and less medication use.
People with type 2 diabetes who take medications should not start a low-carb diet without proper supervision.
Reversing diabetes with a low-carb diet is quite simple in theory but very complex. A carbohydrate diet reduces and causes rapid improvements in blood glucose and blood pressure. Still, it also causes changes in how the body processes electrolytes and minerals in important ways.
These changes require medical monitoring of your body’s response to carbohydrate restriction to avoid health problems. It is also necessary to ensure a correct modification in the medications for diabetes and hypertension.
Medication combined with a low carbohydrate diet can often lead to excessive low blood sugar. Also, certain conditions can make ketosis or hypoglycemia dangerous, for example, diseases related to magnesium depletion that can only be diagnosed in a medical center.
New research suggests that a short-term low-carbohydrate diet may help people with type 2 diabetes; the results show that it could achieve remission within a year.
Reducing your carbohydrate intake can also lead to more significant weight loss, healthier body fat concentrations, and less medication use.
While the findings highlight the critical short-term benefits of following a low-carb diet, more research is needed to understand better the long-term effects on weight loss, blood sugar levels, and quality of life for individuals—with type 2 diabetics.