Reducing the risk of diabetes through proper nutrition
Researchers have found that a low-carbohydrate diet can benefit people at risk for type 2 diabetes, even if they are not losing weight.
A recent Ohio State University study found that a low-carbohydrate diet brings health benefits to people with type 2 diabetes. There is no need for those affected to lose weight. The results of the study were published in the journal "Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight".
What does the low carbohydrate diet do?
The study looked at what happens to overweight people with metabolic syndrome (a precursor to diabetes) when they follow a low-carbohydrate diet but do not lose weight. Researchers found that more than half of the people in the study no longer met the criteria for the metabolic syndrome immediately after a four-week, low-carbohydrate diet.
Number of participants was very low
The current study included only 16 men and women with metabolic syndrome, a number of factors that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Conditions that contribute to the metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat in the waist and abnormally low levels of HDL cholesterol or high triglyceride levels.
Does Weight Loss Play a Role in a Low Carbohydrate Diet?
After consuming a low-carbohydrate diet, more than half of the participants (five men and four women) found that their metabolic syndrome reversed despite receiving a diet that deliberately contained enough calories to keep their weight steady. Previous studies have previously shown that a low-carbohydrate diet may be beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome and diabetes, but there has been some discussion as to whether this is a result of a diet or a weight loss outcome. There is no doubt that people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes benefit from a low-carbohydrate diet but generally lose weight through that diet. One of the prevailing thoughts is that weight loss generates health benefits. This was clearly not the case here, report the authors of the study.
Participants should not lose weight
The authors' view is that limiting carbohydrate intake, even without weight loss, improves a variety of metabolic problems. Obviously, the quality of the diet is very important. Over a period of about four months, each participant ate controlled diets for three months: high carbohydrate, low in carbohydrates and low in carbohydrates. There was a two-week break between each different form of nutrition. The order in which the participants took the various forms of nutrition was determined randomly. It was also ensured that participants did not lose weight by receiving meals prepared with a calorie equivalent to their normal energy intake.
Positive effects of a low-carbohydrate diet
Consuming a low-carbohydrate diet resulted in a variety of beneficial effects, especially lower triglycerides and improved cholesterol levels. Despite the fact that the low-carbohydrate diet contained 2.5 times more saturated fat than the high-carbohydrate diet, it reduced saturated fat in the blood and was associated with an increase in the size of cholesterol particles in the blood, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Reduced disease, say the authors. There was also evidence of increased fat burning efficiency after a low carbohydrate diet and improved blood glucose levels. However, there were no statistically significant improvements in blood pressure or insulin resistance.
Weight loss can further improve outcomes
Even a modest restriction on carbohydrates is enough to reverse the metabolic syndrome in some people, but others need to restrict carbohydrate consumption even more, say researchers. Due to the study design, waist circumference was not considered to be the cause of the metabolic syndrome. If participants were allowed to lose weight, the low-carbohydrate diet would probably have classified more people as free from disease, the authors speculate. This study does not address the potential long-term benefits and challenges of a low-carbohydrate diet. Researchers suggest that future long-term dietary studies in people with metabolic syndrome should include a low-carbohydrate diet. (THE)
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