Background: It is not known how a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet causes weight loss or how it affects blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Objective: To determine effects of a strict low-carbohydrate diet on body weight, body water, energy intake and expenditure, glycemic control, insulin sensitivity, and lipid levels in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
Design: Inpatient comparison of 2 diets.
Setting: General clinical research center of a university hospital.
Patients: 10 obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
Intervention: Usual diets for 7 days followed by a low-carbohydrate diet for 14 days.
Measurements: Body weight, water, and composition; energy intake and expenditure; diet satisfaction; hemoglobin A1c; insulin sensitivity; 24-hour urinary ketone excretion; and plasma profiles of glucose, insulin, leptin, and ghrelin.
Results: On the low-carbohydrate diet, mean energy intake decreased from 3111 kcal/d to 2164 kcal/d. The mean energy deficit of 1027 kcal/d (median, 737 kcal/d) completely accounted for the weight loss of 1.65 kg in 14 days (median, 1.34 kg in 14 days). Mean 24-hour plasma profiles of glucose levels normalized, mean hemoglobin A1c decreased from 7.3% to 6.8%, and insulin sensitivity improved by approximately 75%. Mean plasma triglyceride and cholesterol levels decreased (change, -35% and -10%, respectively).
Limitations: The study was limited by the short duration, small number of participants, and lack of a strict control group.
Conclusion: In a small group of obese patients with type 2 diabetes, a low-carbohydrate diet followed for 2 weeks resulted in spontaneous reduction in energy intake to a level appropriate to their height; weight loss that was completely accounted for by reduced caloric intake; much improved 24-hour blood glucose profiles, insulin sensitivity, and hemoglobin A1c; and decreased plasma triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The long-term effects of this diet, however, remain uncertain.