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Diet, Diabetes Status, and Personal Experiences of Individuals with Type 2 diabetes Who Self-Selected and Followed a Low Carbohydrate High Fat diet

Authors Webster CC, Murphy TE, Larmuth KM, Noakes TD, Smith JA

Received 13 August 2019

Accepted for publication 19 November 2019

Published 5 December 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 2567—2582


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Jing Sun

Christopher C Webster, Tamzyn E Murphy, Kate M Larmuth, Timothy D Noakes, James A Smith

Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Correspondence: Christopher C Webster
Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town, Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Newlands, Cape Town 7700, South Africa

Background: Low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diets are increasing in popularity amongst patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D), however it is unclear what constitutes a sustainable LCHF diet in a real-world setting.
Methods: This descriptive multi-method study characterized the diets, T2D status, and personal experiences of individuals with T2D who claimed to have followed an LCHF diet for at least 6 months. Participants completed a medications history, mixed-method dietary assessment, provided a blood sample, and were interviewed in-depth about their experiences with the diet (First-Assessment). Past medical records were obtained corresponding to T2D diagnosis and prior to starting their LCHF diets. Additionally, participants were followed up 15 months later to assess T2D remission (Follow-Up).
Results: Twenty-eight participants completed First-Assessment and 24 completed Follow-Up. Habitual carbohydrate intake was 20 to 50 g/d for 10 participants and 50 to 115 g/d for 17 participants. Commonly reported foods were full-fat dairy, non-starchy vegetables, coconut oil, eggs, nuts, olives and avocados, olive oil, and red meat and poultry with fat. Median (interquartile range) for HbA1c was 7.5 (6.5–9.5) % prior to starting their diets, 5.8 (5.4–6.2) % at First-Assessment and 5.9 (5.3–6.6) % at Follow-Up. Reported body weight and glucose-lowering medication requirements were considerably lower at both assessments than when starting the diet. At Follow-Up, 24 participants had been following their LCHF diets for 35 (26–53) months, the majority of which were in full or partial T2D remission. Participants perceived reduced hunger and cravings as one of the most important aspects of their diets. Of concern, many participants felt unsupported by their doctors.
Conclusion: This study described the foods and characteristics of an LCHF “lifestyle” that was sustainable and effective for certain T2D patients in a real-world setting.

Keywords: carbohydrate restriction, diabetes remission, ketogenic diet, LCHF, nutritional therapy, food addiction

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