Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

Surprising finding suggests high-fat diet for type 2 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Should diabetics eat a low-fat diet? Study challenges guidelines

A two year study surprisingly found that diabetics who ate a high fat, low carbohydrate diet lost weight, improved their good cholesterol levels, lowered the amount of insulin they used and dropped their blood sugar levels. The finding challenges current dietary treatment that recommends people living with the disease consume low- fat foods and suggests a high-fat, lower carbohydrate diet might be a better choice.

Two year study shows diabetes control with few carbs, high fat

The study, conducted over two years, shows that food with high fat and few carbohydrates could work better to control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Hans Guldbrand, general practitioner, and Fredrik Nyström, professor of Internal Medicine at Linköping University led the study that focused on two types of diets - either a low-carbohydrate (high fat) diet or a low-fat diet.

The high-fat; low-carbohydrate diet consisted of 50% energy from fat, 20% from carbohydrates, and 30% from protein. The low-fat group consumed 30% of calories from fat, 55-60% from carbohydrates, and 10-15% from protein.

The study included 61 adults with type 2 diabetes that developed in adulthood, all of whom remained in the study for follow-up.

After six months, the group given a low carbohydrate diet had better blood sugar control, meaning they could reduce their insulin dosing.

Both groups lost an average of 8 pounds, but even with weight loss, the low-fat diet group experienced no improvement in blood sugar or cholesterol levels.

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

Even though diabetics ate a high saturated fat diet, their cholesterol levels didn’t get worse. Instead, their ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels increased.

"You could ask yourself if it really is good to recommend a low-fat diet to patients with diabetes, if despite their weight loss they get neither better lipoproteins nor blood glucose levels," Nyström said in a press release.

Current U.S. recommendations for diabetes control from the NIH include 30 to 45 grams of carbohydrates at each meal. Eating healthy monounsaturated fats from foods like nuts (almonds, walnuts) and peanut or almond butter, low-fat or non-fat yogurt and milk and small servings of sweet desserts is encouraged.

The NIH says diabetics should eat 2-3 servings of fish, poultry, lean beef, pork or wild game daily – baked, grilled or broiled versus fried. Include 2 to 4 servings of fruit daily and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables.

Fatty foods such as bacon, hamburgers, cheese and butter should be limited.

The new study shows fewer carbohydrates and a high-fat diet helped people with diabetes with weight loss, blood sugar control and improved ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels.

2012, DOI: 10.1007/s00125-012-2567
May 9, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile