The use of low-carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes - benefits and risks

Ann Agric Environ Med. 2014;21(2):320-6. doi: 10.5604/1232-1966.1108597.


The pharmacological treatment of type 2 diabetes is increasingly being supported by the recommendation of an appropriate diet. The purpose of this study is to identify the potential benefits and risks arising from the use of one of the modern models of low-carbohydrate diet in patients with type 2 diabetes. Research shows that diet can favourably affect the health of diabetic patients. It has been shown that diet affects positively the concentration of blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin, and also contributes to the reduction of insulin taken in the course of drug therapy. At the same time, short-term studies have demonstrated a positive relationship of nutrition with reduction in body weight, as well as favourable changes in lipid profile of HDL cholesterol and levels of triglyceride. Attention is also drawn to the negative health effects of a low-carbohydrate diet; these include an increased risk of mineral deficiency, hypovitaminosis and reduced intake of dietary fibres. This diet may be associated with very high levels of protein which, in turn, raises the risk of renal dysfunction and the appearance of irregularities in the water and electrolyte balance. The impact of changes in the skeletal system and the development of osteopenia and osteoporosis is also observed. Besides the positive impact of this model of diet on the lipid profile parameters, its use significantly increases the risk of adverse changes in other markers predisposing to atherosclerosis occurring in individuals with type 2 diabetes. In composing a nutrition model for diabetes patients, both the benefits and potential risks of a low-carbohydrate diet should therefore take into account. At the same time, it is important to individualize the diet used, based on the current state of health, used pharmacological treatments, as well as taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment