Low carbohydrate diet improves physical and general health of diabetes patients

6 October 2014

A low-carbohydrate diet has a good effect not only on blood glucose, but also on physical functions, bodily pain and general health, according to a two-year study at Linköping University.

The trial studied the effects on blood glucose and blood lipids of a low-carbohydrate diet compared to a low-fat diet. Patients in the study were randomly divided into two groups – one for each diet type and were expected to adhere to the respective diet throughout the study period. It was found that both diet-groups reduced weight equally but the effect on blood glucose was better in the low-carbohydrate group. These results were previously published in the journal Diabetologia.

The effects of a low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet on wellbeing have now been analysed in another study. A standardised analysis based on a questionnaire was performed. After 12 months in the trial, the low-carbohydrate group improved in regard to the physical component, which includes physical function, bodily pain and general health. No improvements were seen in the low-fat group, despite weight loss. Mental health was similar for both groups and remained unchanged during the study period and did not differ between the groups.

The mental health interview with the study patients revealed that for both groups there were difficulties adhering to the diet when they ate elsewhere than at home. There could also be problems if not all family members followed the same diet. Both groups expected to have health gains by adhering to the given dietary advice. The low-carbohydrate diet group expressed that it could be difficult to refrain from potatoes and pasta. The diet for the low-fat group was described as relatively inexpensive and tasty. Benefits of the low-carbohydrate diet were that the patients felt less hungry and that their appetite for sweets disappeared.

“The result is interesting; it provides an additional argument that a low-carbohydrate diet is beneficial in diabetes,” says Dr Hans Guldbrand who led the first study. “We also found no adverse effects on mental health with the low-carbohydrate diet, which an earlier study had indicated."


Guldbrand H, et al. Randomization to a low-carbohydrate diet advice improves health related quality of life compared with a low-fat diet at similar weight-loss in Type 2 diabetes mellitus  Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice online 21 September 2014.
DOI: 10.1016/j.diabres.2014.08.032


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