low-carb diet reduces the risk of diabetes

Researchers examine if a low-carb diet among participants who were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes reduces the risk of diabetes even if participants didn’t lose weight.

Metabolic syndrome is a condition that involves a variety of health complications. Metabolic syndrome is associated with inactivity and a surplus of caloric intake. Metabolic syndrome can include high blood pressure and blood sugar, being overweight or obese, and low HDL cholesterol. A combination of these health complications puts a person at risk of diabetes, heart attack, and/or stroke.

In a study published by The Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight, 16 men and women with metabolic syndrome consumed three different diets at separate times. The three diets were randomly assigned and each diet lasted a month. After each diet, participants took a two-week break before continuing on to the next diet. The diets were high-carb, moderate-carb, and low-carb. The diet rotation was completed over a span of about four months. A variety of measurements were taken after each diet, some measurements included BMI, fat oxidation, waist circumference, glucose, triglycerides, insulin resistance, and more. Researchers wanted to examine if consuming a low-carb diet benefited persons with metabolic syndrome, even without losing weight.

The study found that in over half of participants there was a reversal of metabolic syndrome after consuming the low-carb diet. This included four women and five men. Participants’ health increased significantly, with associated reductions in cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglyceride levels. There was also a reduction in saturated fats present in the blood, and overall, participants’ risk of cardiovascular disease declined.

Even on the moderate-carb diet, three participants benefited, as metabolic syndrome was no longer present after consuming a moderate-carb diet. There was one participant who showed reversed metabolic syndrome after eating the high-carb diet.

Although previous studies have found similar results when participants consume a low-carb diet, weight loss was also seen in those studies, suggesting that weight loss may have been a primary factor in reversal of metabolic syndrome. However, this study found that consuming a low-carb diet without caloric restriction, and therefore without weight loss, is also effective at reversing metabolic syndrome.

More research will be necessary to examine the precise role low-carb diets play in reversing metabolic syndrome.

Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer


Low-carb diet may reduce diabetes risk independent of weight loss. 2019, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-06/osu-ldm061919.php, assessed 20 June 2019.

Metabolic Syndrome. 2019, https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/tm6339spec, assessed 20 June 2019.

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