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. 2008 Dec 19;5:36.
doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-5-36.

The Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Versus a Low-Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

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The Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Versus a Low-Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Eric C Westman et al. Nutr Metab (Lond). .
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Objective: Dietary carbohydrate is the major determinant of postprandial glucose levels, and several clinical studies have shown that low-carbohydrate diets improve glycemic control. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that a diet lower in carbohydrate would lead to greater improvement in glycemic control over a 24-week period in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Research design and methods: Eighty-four community volunteers with obesity and type 2 diabetes were randomized to either a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (<20 g of carbohydrate daily; LCKD) or a low-glycemic, reduced-calorie diet (500 kcal/day deficit from weight maintenance diet; LGID). Both groups received group meetings, nutritional supplementation, and an exercise recommendation. The main outcome was glycemic control, measured by hemoglobin A1c.

Results: Forty-nine (58.3%) participants completed the study. Both interventions led to improvements in hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and weight loss. The LCKD group had greater improvements in hemoglobin A1c (-1.5% vs. -0.5%, p = 0.03), body weight (-11.1 kg vs. -6.9 kg, p = 0.008), and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (+5.6 mg/dL vs. 0 mg/dL, p < 0.001) compared to the LGID group. Diabetes medications were reduced or eliminated in 95.2% of LCKD vs. 62% of LGID participants (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Dietary modification led to improvements in glycemic control and medication reduction/elimination in motivated volunteers with type 2 diabetes. The diet lower in carbohydrate led to greater improvements in glycemic control, and more frequent medication reduction/elimination than the low glycemic index diet. Lifestyle modification using low carbohydrate interventions is effective for improving and reversing type 2 diabetes.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Payoff matrix for dietary comparisons. Matrices show the theoretical paired comparison between the change in hemoglobin A1c for each individual in the LGI group compared with each individual in the LCKD group. In rank order across the top of the matrix, the change in hemoglobin A1c from baseline to week 24 is shown for the LCKD group; down the matrix side is shown the LGI group. Each matrix element shows the difference between the value for the LGI (row) and the LCKD (column) individual (LGI-LCKD). Positive values indicate greater reduction in hemoglobin A1c for LCKD, negative values indicate greater reduction in hemoglobin A1c for LGI. At the right of the Figure, the number of matrix elements in each category are divided by the total number of matrix elements (paired differences). LGI = Low glycemic index group, LCKD = Low carbohydrate ketogenic diet group, Prob = Probability.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Relationship between change in hemoglobin A1c and change in weight. This figure plots the change in hemoglobin A1c vs. the change in weight from baseline to week 24 for each individual (r = 0.09425, p = 0.5150). The LCKD group is shown as triangles; the LGID group is shown as squares.

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