Following a low-carbohydrate diet led to improved blood glucose control in people with untreated prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Whether people with diabetes should be following a low-carb diet is one of the longest-running debates in the diabetes community, and this conversation is often clouded by confusion about what a low-carb diet actually means. But recent studies point to some impressive benefits linked to following a low-carb diet. One study found that following a low-carb vegan diet (yes, that’s possible) led to weight loss and improved blood glucose control in people with diabetes. Another study found that for people with both type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), following a low-carb, high-fat diet led to both improved blood glucose control and liver benefits. Low-carb diets have also been shown to contribute to remission of type 2 diabetes, and they may also help improve kidney function in people with type 2.
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For the latest study, researchers were interested in how following a low-carb diet affected blood glucose control in people with an untreated A1C level (a measure of long-term blood glucose control) between 6.0% and 6.9%. Based on the latest guidelines, a normal A1C level is below 5.7%, while an A1C level between 5.7% and 6.4% indicates prediabetes. An A1C level of 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes.
The study included 150 participants with an A1C level between 6.0% and 6.9% — 108 of them women — with an average A1C level of 6.16% and an average age of 58.9 at the beginning of the study. Participants were randomly assigned to follow either their normal diet or a low-carb diet for six months, with 75 participants in each group. There were 142 participants still left in the study at both of the follow-up intervals, after three months and six months — two participants dropped out of the low-carb group, and six participants dropped out of the usual-diet…