Low-Carb Diet Helps Obese Swedes With Diabetes

Swedish boyObese people with type 2 diabetes following a 20% carbohydrate diet demonstrated sustained improvement in weight and blood glucose control, according to two Swedish physicians.  These doctors also have research experience with traditional low-fat diets in overweight diabetics, having demonstrated that a 20% carbohydrate diet was superior to a low-fat/55–60% carb diet in obese diabetes patients over six months.

What Was the Intervention?

Proportions of carbohydrates, fat, and protein were 20%, 50%, and 30% respectively.  Total daily carbs were 80–90 g. 

Recommended carbs were vegetables and salads. 

Rather than ordinary bread, crisp/hard bread was recommended (3.5 to 8 g carb per slice).  Starchy breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, and breakfast cereals were excluded. 

They were instructed to walk 30 minutes daily, take a multivitamin with extra calcium daily, and to not eat between meals. 

At the outset, diabetic medications were reduced by 25–30% to avoid low blood sugars.   


The doctors followed 23 patients over the course of  44 months.  Average initial body weight was 101 kg (222 pounds).  After 44 months, average body weight fell to 93 kg (205 pounds).  Hemoglobin A1c, a measure of diabetes control,  fell from 8% to 6.8%. 

My Comments

In these pages over the last few months, we’ve seen the effectiveness of low-carb diets in people with type 2 diabetes in widespread populations: Japanese, U.S. blacks and caucasions, and, now, Swedes. 

The standard Western diet derives 55–60% of its energy from carbohydrates.  If you’ve been following this blog, we’ve looked at diets containing 40%, 30%, 20%, and 10% carbs.  Have you noticed the trend? 

Reducing the percentage of carbohydrates in the diet improves diabetic control and loss of excess weight.  And the more you reduce carbs, the greater the degree of diabetic control and weight loss.   

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Nielsen, Jörgen and Joensson, Eva.  Low-carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes: stable improvement of body weight and glycemic control during 44 months follow-upNutrition & Metabolism, 5:14   doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-14

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