, Volume 55, Issue 8, pp 2118-2127,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 06 May 2012

In type 2 diabetes, randomisation to advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet transiently improves glycaemic control compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet producing a similar weight loss

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

The study aimed to compare the effects of a 2 year intervention with a low-fat diet (LFD) or a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD), based on four group meetings to achieve compliance.

Methods

This was a prospective randomised parallel trial involving 61 adults with type 2 diabetes consecutively recruited in primary care and randomised by drawing ballots. Patients that did not speak Swedish could not be recruited. The primary outcomes in this non-blinded study were weight and HbA1c. Patients on the LFD aimed for 55–60 energy per cent (E%) and those on LCD for 20 E% from carbohydrate.

Results

The mean BMI and HbA1c of the participants were 32.7 ± 5.4 kg/m2 and 57.0 ± 9.2 mmol/mol, respectively. No patients were lost to follow-up. Weight loss did not differ between groups and was maximal at 6 months: LFD 3.99 ± 4.1 kg (n = 31); LCD 4.31 ± 3.6 kg (n = 30); p < 0.001 within groups. At 24 months, patients on the LFD had lost 2.97 ± 4.9 kg and those on LCD 2.34 ± 5.1 kg compared with baseline (p = 0.002 and p = 0.020 within groups, respectively). HbA1c fell in the LCD group only (LCD at 6 months 4.8 ± 8.3 mmol/mol, p = 0.004, at 12 months 2.2 ± 7.7 mmol/mol, p = 0.12; LFD at 6 months 0.9 ± 8.8 mmol/mol, p = 0.56). At 6 months, HDL-cholesterol had increased with the LCD (from 1.13 ± 0.33 mmol/l to 1.25 ± 0.47 mmol/l, p = 0.018) while LDL-cholesterol did not differ between groups. Insulin doses were reduced in the LCD group (0 months, LCD 42 ± 65 E, LFD 39 ± 51 E; 6 months, LCD 30 ± 47 E, LFD 38 ± 48 E; p = 0.046 for between-group change).

Conclusions/interpretation

Weight changes did not differ between the diet groups, while insulin doses were reduced significantly more with the LCD at 6 months, when compliance was good. Thus, aiming for 20% of energy intake from carbohydrates is safe with respect to cardiovascular risk compared with the traditional LFD and this approach could constitute a treatment alternative.

Trial registration:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01005498

Funding:

University Hospital of Linköping Research Funds, Linköping University, the County Council of Östergötland, and the Diabetes Research Centre of Linköping University