Replacing carbohydrates with protein and fat reduces high blood sugar and liver fat content over a period of six weeks, new research finds.
Conventional dietary advice for type 2 diabetics involves a low fat diet and high-carb foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) but a Danish study suggests this is not the best approach.
The GI is a ranking system of carbohydrate content in foods that shows those carbs that are slower to digest and be absorbed
Presently, 85 percent of type 2 diabetics are overweight and are told to follow a weight loss diet with fewer calories, low in fat and a high in carbohydrates with a low GI.
The idea is to overcome type 2 diabetes by helping patients to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
However, the Danish researchers assessed a group of type 2 diabetes patients and found that a diet low in carbohydrates, high in protein and moderately increased fat will improve regulating blood glucose levels (glycaemic control).
Additionally, it helps fat metabolism and reduces the fat content in the liver and pancreas.
Excess fat will cause fatty liver (hepatic steatosis) and fatty pancreas (pancreatic steatosis) disease.
Dr Thure Krarup, study co-author, said:
“The purpose of our study was to investigate the effects of the diet without ‘interference’ from a weight loss.
For that reason, the patients were asked to maintain their weight.
Our study confirms the assumption that a diet with a reduced carbohydrate content can improve patients’ ability to regulate their blood sugar levels — without the patients concurrently losing weight.
Our findings are important, because we’ve removed weight loss from the equation.
Previous studies have provided contradictory conclusions, and weight loss has complicated interpretations in a number of these studies.”
Several studies have suggested that a low-carb, high protein diet can benefit type 2 diabetics by reduction in sugar cravings, improved energy levels, and increased weight loss.
Dr Krarup concluded:
“The study shows that by reducing the share of carbohydrates in the diet and increasing the share of protein and fat, you can both treat high blood sugar and reduce liver fat content.
Further intensive research is needed in order to optimise our dietary recommendations for patients with type 2 diabetes”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the journal Diabetologia (Skytte et al., 2019).