Investigating the Effectiveness of Very Low-Calorie Diets and Low-Fat Vegan Diets on Weight and Glycemic Markers in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nutrients. 2022 Nov 17;14(22):4870. doi: 10.3390/nu14224870.


Caloric restriction and vegan diets have demonstrated protective effects for diabetes, however their role in improving clinically relevant outcomes has not been summarized. Our aim was to evaluate the evidence for low-calorie diets (VLCD) and vegan diets on weight and glycemic control in the management of patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Database searches were conducted using Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (Ovid) and Embase. Systematic Review Registration: CRD42022310299. Methodological quality of studies was assessed using Cochrane RoB Tool for RCTs, Cochrane ROBINS-I RoB Tool for non-RCTs and NIH Quality Assessment tool for other studies. Sixteen studies with a total of 834 individuals were included and assessed to have a moderate to high risk of bias. Statistically significant changes in weight, BMI, and HbA1c were not observed in vegan diet cohorts. However, LDL cholesterol was significantly decreased by vegan diet. VLCDs significantly improved glycaemic control, with reductions in fasting glucose, pooled mean difference (MD) -1.51 mmol/L (95% CI -2.89, -0.13; p = 0.03; 2 studies) and HbA1c, pooled MD -0.66% (95% CI -1.28, -0.03; p = 0.04; 3 studies) compared to non-dietary therapy. Both diets suggested a trend towards improved weight loss and anthropometric markers vs. control. VLCD diet intervention is associated with improvement in glycaemia control in patients with Type 2 Diabetes.

Keywords: diabetes mellitus; glycemic control; low-fat; plant-based diets; type 2; vegan diet; very low-calorie diet; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Diet, Vegan*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin
  • Humans


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Blood Glucose
  • Biomarkers