Weight loss and diabetes: Which diets work the most?

A new study looks into which diets are best for people with diabetes who want to lose weight.
A new study looked into which diets are best for people with diabetes who want to lose weight.
  • For years, scientists have been researching the impact of nutrition on type 2 diabetes. Losing weight has been proven to lead to remission in studies.
  • Previous research has had mixed results, and it’s unclear which diets are the most effective.
  • According to a recent analysis of previously published data, the most efficient strategy to maintain weight in adults with type 2 diabetes is to follow a very low energy diet and alternate meals.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), one out of every ten adults has diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for more than 90% of these cases.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes will affect 643 million people globally by 2030, rising to 784 million by 2045.

The impact of weight loss on type 2 diabetes has been studied in a number of research. Weight reduction, on the other hand, varies greatly amongst diets, and comparisons have generated mixed outcomes. The type of diet that medical practitioners should propose is still up in the air.

The previous research was examined by a global team of academics led by Prof. Michael Lean of the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom.

Their goal was to discover the most successful dietary method for losing weight, keeping it off, and achieving type 2 diabetes remission. The study is part of a larger effort to revise the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’ recommendations.

The researchers discovered that very low-energy diets and meal replacements were the most efficient weight management strategies for people with type 2 diabetes. The findings of the review were published in Diabetologia.

This review, which combines findings from many studies, answers important questions about which diets are most effective for weight loss and remission in people with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Lucy Chambers, head of research communications at Diabetes UK, told Medical News Today.

Examining previously published research

Experts agree that losing weight helps with type 2 diabetes treatment. Prof. Lean’s landmark Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) demonstrated that remission from type 2 diabetes can be achieved by losing more than 10 kilograms (kg) or 22 pounds (lb) of weight.

Prof. Lean cooperated with Dr. Chaitong Churuangsuk and colleagues from the University of Glasgow, as well as other academics from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and the University of Otago in New Zealand, to build on this research.

The researchers conducted a “umbrella review” of previously published data from various studies around the world. They compiled meta-analyses that looked into which diet is better for persons with type 2 diabetes who want to lose weight. They also conducted a fresh systematic assessment of trials on diets for type 2 diabetes remission that had previously been published.

What did they discover?

The findings suggest that weight management regimens incorporating very low-energy diets and formula meal replacements resulted in better weight loss than low-energy diets alone.

The most effective treatment for type 2 diabetes remission was programs that comprised a whole food replacement at the start of the diet, with a median of 54 percent of participants reporting remission after a year.

Furthermore, when compared to conventional diets, high protein, Mediterranean, vegetarian, and low glycemic diets achieved minimal — 0.3–2 kg (0.7–4.4 lb) — or no weight loss.

It was “a bit of a shock, given all the hype and media attention, to discover how poor the evidence is for low carb, or ketogenic, diets,” Prof. Lean told MNT. This marketing of low carb diets often uses very persuasive but incorrect science, suggesting that only one nutrient (carbohydrate) and one hormone (insulin) control our metabolism and disease risks.

“Celebrities and politicians have been persuaded, but dozens of clinical trials have been done, and they simply do not show any advantage for low carb diets. What matters is keeping your weight as near to ideal as possible.”

– Prof. Michael Lean

Limitations

The majority of the available information mainly refers to short-term effects, which is one of the review’s limitations. The effects of weight loss on type 2 diabetes are mostly dependent on long-term body weight control.

Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight may necessitate different behavioral approaches than those that were successful during the initial weight loss phase. There are only a few trials that publish results for more than a year.

Further work

Longer-term effects on weight, glycemic control, clinical outcomes, and diabetic complications, according to the research team, require well-conducted research.

Prof. Lean told MNT that “the big need is to find better ways to help people avoid returning to the eating patterns [that] caused them to gain weight and develop [type 2 diabetes]. We know from DiRECT that people who lose weight and get a remission of their diabetes will relapse if they regain weight.”

“This is not easy, because social marketing by the food industry over the last 40 or 50 years has ‘normalized’ eating habits that have resulted in people being on average about 1 stone — 7kg — heavier now, and many of them much heavier at younger ages.”

Dr. Chambers added: “It’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all ‘diet for diabetes.’ Low calorie diets can be challenging, and if you have [type 2 diabetes] and want to lose weight, getting support from a healthcare professional can help you find an approach that is safe and works for you.”