Very-Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet as a Safe and Valuable Tool for Long-Term Glycemic Management in Patients with Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

Nutrients. 2021 Feb 26;13(3):758. doi: 10.3390/nu13030758.


Obesity-related type 2 diabetes represents one of the most difficult challenges for the healthcare system. This retrospective study aims to determine the efficacy, safety and durability of a very-low-calorie ketogenic diet (VLCKD), compared to a standard low-calorie diet (LCD) on weight-loss, glycemic management, eating behavior and quality of life in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and obesity. Thirty patients with obesity and T2DM, aged between 35 and 75 years, who met the inclusion criteria and accepted to adhere to a VLCKD or a LCD nutritional program, were consecutively selected from our electronic database. Fifteen patients followed a structured VLCKD protocol, fifteen followed a classical LCD. At the beginning of the nutritional protocol, all patients were asked to stop any antidiabetic medications, with the exception of metformin. Data were collected at baseline and after 3 (T1) and 12 (T2) months. At T1 and T2, BMI was significantly reduced in the VLCKD group (p < 0.001), whereas it remained substantially unchanged in the LCD group. HbA1c was significantly reduced in the VLCKD group (p = 0.002), whereas a slight, although not significant, decrease was observed in the LCD group. Quality of life and eating behavior scores were improved in the VLCKD group, whereas no significant changes were reported in the LCD group, both at T1 and T2. At the end of the study, in the VLCKD group 26.6% of patients had stopped all antidiabetic medications, and 73.3% were taking only metformin, whereas 46.6% of LCD patients had to increase antidiabetic medications. The study confirms a valuable therapeutic effect of VLCKD in the long-term management of obesity and T2DM and its potential contribution to remission of the disease.

Keywords: VLCKD; diabetes remission; eating behavior; obesity; weight-loss.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Caloric Restriction / methods*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diet, Ketogenic / methods*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Glycemic Control / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A