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Limiting carbs can help diabetics regulate blood sugar, study finds

Researchers suggest placing a stronger emphasis on proteins and fats

Photo (c) Noppawan Laisuan - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen is urging type 2 diabetics to rethink their diets in order to better regulate their blood sugar levels.

The researchers’ findings revealed that a diet heavier in proteins and fats, with fewer carbohydrates, could be the key to more steady blood sugar. 

“The purpose of our study was to investigate the effects of the diet without ‘interference’ from a weight loss,” said researcher Dr. Thure Krarup. “For that reason, the patients were asked to maintain their weight. Our study confirms the assumption that a diet with reduced carbohydrate content can improve patients’ ability to regulate their blood sugar levels -- without the patients concurrently losing weight.” 

Benefits of limiting carbs

To see just how effective limiting carbs was for diabetics’ blood sugar levels, the researchers conducted a 12-week long study comprised of 28 individuals, all of whom were type 2 diabetics. 

For half of the study, participants had a diet low in carbs and high in proteins and fats; for the other half, they followed diets typical of those with diabetes, which is generally higher in carbohydrate content. 

As Dr. Krarup explained, the goal of the study wasn’t to have the participants lose weight, but rather to see how the intervention of a new diet could affect the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. 

After 12 weeks, the researchers learned that the diet that was lower in carbs was successful in not only achieving their intended goal of regulating blood sugar, but it also aided in reducing participants’ liver fat content -- which is usually associated with insulin resistance. 

“Our findings are important because they remove weight loss from the equation,” said Dr. Krarup. “Previous studies have provided contradictory conclusions, and weight loss has complicated interpretations in a number of these studies.” 

Considering that regulating blood sugar is the primary goal for diabetics, the researchers hope that physicians will begin altering their diet recommendations for patients with diabetes, as doing so could greatly improve their health outcomes. 

“The study shows that by reducing the share of carbohydrates in the diet and increasing the share of protein and fat, you can both treat high blood sugar and reduce liver fat content,” Dr. Krarup said.

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