Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal


Current nutritional approaches to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes generally rely on reductions in dietary fat. The success of such approaches has been limited and therapy more generally relies on pharmacology. The argument is made that a re-evaluation of the role of carbohydrate restriction, the historical and intuitive approach to the problem, may provide an alternative and possibly superior dietary strategy. The rationale is that carbohydrate restriction improves glycemic control and reduces insulin fluctuations which are primary targets. Experiments are summarized showing that carbohydrate-restricted diets are at least as effective for weight loss as low-fat diets and that substitution of fat for carbohydrate is generally beneficial for risk of cardiovascular disease. These beneficial effects of carbohydrate restriction do not require weight loss. Finally, the point is reiterated that carbohydrate restriction improves all of the features of metabolic syndrome.

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A Low Carbohydrate Diet in Type 1 Diabetes: Clinical Experience – A Brief Report

Jørgen Vesti Nielsen, Eva Jönsson, Anette Ivarsson

Department of Medicine, Blekingesjukhuset, Karlshamn, Sweden


Due to failure to achieve control twenty-two patients with type 1 diabetes with sympto- matic fluctuating blood glucose started on a diet limited to 70-90 g carbohydrates per day and were taught to match the insulin doses accordingly. The caloric requirements were covered by an increased intake of protein and fat. The purpose was to reduce the blood glucose fluctuations, the rate of hypoglycaemia and to improve HbA1c.

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Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism

Eric C Westman, Richard D Feinman, John C Mavropoulos, Mary C Vernon, Jeff S Volek, James A Wortman, William S Yancy, and Stephen D Phinney


The persistence of an epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes sug- gests that new nutritional strategies are needed if the epidemic is to be overcome. A promising nutritional approach suggested by this thematic review is carbohydrate restriction. Recent studies show that, under conditions of carbohydrate restriction, fuel sources shift from glucose and fatty acids to fatty acids and ketones, and that ad libitum–fed carbohydrate-restricted diets lead to appetite reduction, weight loss, and improvement in surrogate markers of cardiovascular disease.  Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:276–84.

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The Effects of a Low-Carbohydrate Regimen on Glycemic Control and Serum Lipids in Diabetes Mellitus



The Diabetes Complications and Control Trial (DCCT) established that diabetic complica- tions could be reduced by improvement in glycemic control. The ideal diabetes treatment protocol would maintain blood glucose levels in normal ranges without resulting in frequent hypoglycemia. Because several studies suggest an inverse relationship between carbohydrate consumption and the level of glycemic control, the effects of an intensive treatment program, which included dietary carbohydrate restriction, are examined in this paper. A chart review was performed of 30 patients who self-reported the consumption of 30 g of carbohydrate daily, followed a strict insulin regimen, monitored blood glucose levels at least four times daily, and had follow-up clinical visits or phone calls with their physician. For both type I and type II diabetics, there were significant improvements in glycemic control and mean fast- ing lipid profiles at follow-up. The mean hemoglobin A1c decreased by 27.8% from 7.9 to 5.7 (p < 0.001). The LDL cholesterol decreased by 16.5%, from 155.4 to 129.7 mg/dL (p = 0.004). The triglycerides decreased by 31.1%, from 106.8 to 73.6 mg/dL (p = 0.005). The HDL cholesterol increased by 43.3%, from 50.4 to 72.2 mg/dL (p < 0.001). The cholesterol/HDL ratio decreased by 31.5%, from 4.99 to 3.42 (p < 0.001). A carbohydrate-restricted regimen improved glycemic control and lipid profiles in selected motivated patients. Therefore, further investigation of the effects of this protocol on treating diabetes mellitus should be considered. Additionally, the reduction of insulin afforded by this diet could theoretically lead to a reduction in hypo- glycemic events.

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