An analysis of 23 studies involving 1357 participants, published in the British Medical Journal concludes that patients adhering to a low carb diet for six months may experience remission of diabetes without adverse consequences.
Before you hold the pasta, however, keep in mind that the researchers reached the conclusion on the basis of “moderate to low certainty of evidence.”
The reasons that the conclusion wasn’t overwhelmingly convincing: “Limitations include continued debate around what constitutes remission of diabetes, as well as the efficacy, safety, and dietary satisfaction of longer term low carb diets.”
So by how much do you have to slash your carb count to have type 2 diabetes go into remission? Well, according to the group of international researchers, carbs constituted no more than 26% of the calories consumed by the participants who experienced remission.
A diet consisting of nearly one-quarter of daily calories from carbs is not considered “low carb” by many nutrition experts. In fact, the ultra low-carb diet known as the ketogenic or “keto” diet caps carbs to 10%, with approximately half coming from dietary fat and roughly a third from protein.
Low-carb diets have a reputation as being difficult to follow. However, just by sticking with a few simple rules, a low-carb diet may be very easy to follow: Eat lean sources of protein with every meal along with a liberal amount of healthy fat and some vegetables. Fruit is allowed so long as it’s not a very sweet fruit such as mangos and other tropical fruits. Also avoid dried fruits such as dates. And finally, avoid starchy carbohydrates such as baked potatoes.
Why High Fat Diets May Send Type 2 Diabetes in Remission
Eating healthy sources of dietary fat such as avocados, nuts, seeds and lean meats and minimally-processed dairy is satiating. While fat has more than twice the number of calories per gram than carbohydrates (9 grams versus 4 grams), when you eat fat it keeps you full. Thus, you’re less likely to crave empty calorie snacks and starchy carbohydrates.
Low carb diets also help those with type 2 diabetes lose weight, improve blood sugar levels, and reduce diabetes medication. However, the study authors conceded that while low carb diets improve health outcomes for those with type 2 diabetes, there is a dearth of support tools for long term low carb diet adherence.
The good news for those with diabetes is that following a very strict low carb diet is not necessary for improving critical health markers such as blood sugar and insulin levels. And if you’re wondering what eating all that fat does to your cholesterol levels, according to the study, triglycerides were improved in the low carb dieters after six months. That being said, however, it’s probably best to avoid fats that contain very high levels of saturated fat such as coconut oil. Getting a genetic test (such as the APOA2 gene) may help reveal if you have a genetic predisposition to heart disease and obesity.