Meta-analysis finds keto diets are beneficial for type 2 diabetes

Senior man checking blood sugar levels

As interest in ketogenic diets continues to grow, we are seeing more reviews analyzing the outcomes of existing trials, including a study we covered last June.

Now, a new meta-analysis of clinical trials looking at ketogenic diets exclusively in people with type 2 diabetes concludes that very low-carb diets significantly reduce blood sugar, promote weight loss, and improve lipid profiles:

Cureus 2020: Effects of the ketogenic diet on glycemic control in diabetic patients: meta-analysis of clinical trials

Admittedly, this was a small meta-analysis. Although the researchers accepted six studies for the review, they included only the four trials with control groups in the meta-analysis. Of those four, three were randomized controlled trials, and in the other trial participants were allowed to choose whether to follow a keto diet or a low-calorie diet.

Some of the studies may be familiar to many people, including a 2008 trial comparing a keto diet to a low-glycemic diet led by Dr. Eric Westman and a 2017 trial testing a keto diet against a “Plate Method” diet led by Dr. Laura Saslow.

The trials lasted between 16 and 32 weeks, and the number of participants ranged from 25 to 363. Target carb intake was less than 20 grams per day in two studies and 20 to 50 grams per day in the other two studies.

Overall, participants had significant reductions in fasting blood sugar, HbA1c, weight, and triglycerides, along with increases in HDL and little to no changes in LDL. Yet when analysts pooled all the trials’ results, the effects were less dramatic due to the large variations in outcomes among the studies.

However, the researchers emphasized that this should not influence clinicians’ decision-making when considering ketogenic diets for their patients, given that ketogenic diets outperformed the control diets in each trial.

The researchers admitted that they had assumed the participants’ lipid profiles would worsen due to higher fat intake on the keto diet. Yet after conducting their analysis, they found that the opposite occurred.

They concluded by stating, “It is, therefore, the recommendation of this review that the ketogenic diet be considered as a therapeutic intervention for diabetic patients along with medications.”

At Diet Doctor, we wholeheartedly agree. We hope that reviews like this encourage clinicians to support their patients who want to reverse type 2 diabetes with a keto or very-low-carb approach.

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