The findings were published online by the journal Diabetologia and presented here at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Yes, it might sound too tough to follow, but don’t worry, the researchers aren’t recommending the low-cal diet as a treatment for diabetes.
“We used the 600-calorie diet to test a hypothesis. What I can tell you definitively is that if people lose substantial weight by normal means, they will lose their diabetes,” says study head Roy Taylor,MD, director of the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre at Newcastle University in England.
Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, about 95% of whom have type 2 diabetes. It develops when the body does not produce enough insulin and/or the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly. As a result, blood sugar levels shoot up. A very low-calorie diet reduced the amount of fat in the pancreas and liver, which allowed insulin production and function to return to normal.
1. After 1 week on the diet, participants’ fasting blood sugar levels were no longer elevated; MRI scans showed that the fat levels in the pancreas fell from around 8% — considered high — to a normal 6%.
2. After 8 weeks on the diet, their bodies were once again making sufficient insulin, essentially reversing their diabetes. Fat in the pancreas inhibits the action of beta cells in making insulin. The low-calorie diet got rid of this excess fat.
The men and the women in the study weighed an average of 220 pounds at the start of the study and lost an average of 33 pounds over 8 weeks. 3 months later, they had regained an average of 6.5 pounds.
Nutritionists have warned about this crash cure for diabetes as it may be sending out the wrong message about crash dieting. Losing weight very rapidly and through starvation may be a quick fix, but it is not a long term solution. It is very likely the weight will go straight back on when ‘normal’ eating is resumed, and the symptoms will return. The key to staying healthy is in maintaining a healthy weight and the best way to do this is by gradually developing healthy lifestyle and eating habits for life.