Low-Carb Lifestyle’s Effect on Diabetes Control

Caution: Consult your diabetes care team before starting a lower-carbohydrate meal plan. Diabetes medications such as insulin or oral drugsthat stimulate insulin production (sulfonylureas or meglitinides) will need adjustment to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) whencarbohydrate intake is decreased. In addition, blood glucose levels need to be checked more often.

Although a person almost always leavesthe doctor’s office after a type 2 diagnosiswith a fistful of prescriptions, according toa recent survey published in the Journalof the American Medical Association, only 7percent of diabetics are meeting treatmentgoals for blood glucose, blood pressure andcholesterol levels.

In the past two years, nine publishedstudies have shown that type 2s whofollow an Atkins-type plan can see dramaticimprovement in blood glucose control,insulin resistance, blood pressure andcardiovascular risk factors. In addition, ithas been found that they can also reduce oreliminate the need for certain medications.

We’ll look briefly at four of these studies; fora complete listing, go to www.atkins.com/science/researchsupportingatkins.html.

Reducing Medication

In one study published in the Journal ofGeneral Internal Medicine, overweight peoplewith type 2 diabetes ate according to theinduction phase of the Atkins plan (no morethan 20 grams of carbs) for 16 weeks.

Body weight, A1C levels, triglycerides andfasting glucose all decreased significantly.

Moreover, 13 out of 19 patients were ableto reduce or discontinue their diabetesmedications.

Atkins Versus the ADA Diet

In a 2004 study funded by the AmericanDiabetes Association (ADA) presentedat the June 2004 Scientific Sessions inOrlando, Florida, obese type 2s followed theinduction phase of Atkins for just two weeks.Participants lost an average of 5.3 pounds,fasting blood glucose and A1C levelsdecreased and insulin sensitivity significantlyimproved. Additionally, subjects showedsignificant improvements in cholesterol andtriglycerides.

Low Carb Versus the American HeartAssociation Diet

In a third study published in Diabetes, ahigh-protein, low-carbohydrate diet wascompared to dietary recommendations bythe American Heart Association and theUSDA. Eight men with untreated type 2tested each diet over a five-week period.Subjects in the low-carb group experiencedsignificant improvement in blood glucosecontrol compared to those in the other group.

Big Results, and Fast

In just two years, this body of research—nine published studies—shows that a lowcarbohydrateprogram such as Atkins cansignificantly help control type 2 diabetesand even produce improvements incholesterol and markers of inflammation,often without—or with lower doses of—medications. These were short-term studies,but longer-term studies are underwayto evaluate the effectiveness of the lowcarbohydrateapproach to diabetes controland weight management over time.

Where the Research Was Conducted

The studies referred to in this article were conducted at prestigious universities andhospitals across the globe, including:

  • The Division of General Internal Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia
  • Departments of Food Science and Nutrition and Medicine, University of Minnesota-Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis
  • Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem

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