Posted on 23 Aug 2018 Views 4393 Comments 28
Type 2 diabetes in a very common health condition in the UK, particularly among people who are overweight or obese. It has always been thought that type 2 diabetes is an incurable condition. However, there is emerging evidence to suggest that diabetes could potentially be reversed by following a very low calorie diet (VLCD). VLCDs (of which the Slim & Save plans are examples of) cause rapid weight loss by restricting carbohydrate intake to a level that induces ‘ketosis’ – a state where the body breaks down fat into ‘ketones’ to provide energy, causing rapid weight loss. Until recently, VLCDs have not had the most favourable reputation in the healthcare world, and are often recommended by the NHS as an approach to try if all else has failed. However, emerging evidence suggests there may be a role for using VLCDs as a first-line approach to weight loss, particularly upon diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
As such, there has been recent media coverage of around this – in particular two television programmes where subjects volunteered to follow a VLCD and be filmed as part of an experiment. This article summarises the findings of these television experiments, and summarises the conclusions and take-home points one can glean from them.
This experiment, aired in May 2018, involved four overweight volunteers taking part to see if following a VLCD worked better than following a ‘slow and steady’ approach as recommended by the NHS for most people. The volunteers followed a liquid diet containing 800 kcal a day (similar calorie intake to that consumed on S&S programmes) for nine weeks.
All four volunteers lost a significant amount of weight over the nine week period, with one person losing 20% of their body weight, and putting their diabetes into remission. Interestingly, following the nine week period on the VLCD, all volunteers changed their eating habits (towards more healthy eating) rather than reverting to their previous diet, and after another four months, all lost even more weight.
A particular challenge to all volunteers was sticking to the diet, particularly with the usual pressures of day to day life, e.g. family meals, social eating. As such, the volunteers had to be moved to house away from their family and friends in order for them to be able to carry on with the experiment.
This social experiment, aired in May and June 2018, involved five volunteers with type 2 diabetes. They followed a VLCD providing 800 kcal a day (using meal replacement products) for eight weeks. All volunteers significantly reduced their blood sugar levels, with one person reversing their diabetes (with no symptoms) and another reducing their fatty liver.
The inspiration behind the experiment was the DiRECT Study (funded by Diabetes UK), which has showed that over 50% of people went into remission and came off their diabetic medication as a result of following a similar VLCD for 3-5 months; and people lost more weight on a VLCD than they did through conventional diets.
A highlight of the show was an autopsy showing the large amount of visceral fat around the organs which if left untreated can lead to liver failure. Large amounts of visceral fat is also a risk factor of diabetes, because when fat is stored centrally (around key organs like your heart, liver and pancreas), it can lead to insulin resistance – where your fat cells have become resistant to your natural insulin production. This results in too much sugar staying in the blood stream, rather than entering your fat cells.
Here are our main take-home points from reviewing these two programmes:
If you’re diabetic and are considering following one of our programmes, it’s always best to consult your GP to check your suitability. It’s also worth checking out our article on diabetic medication if you are taking a medication or insulin for your diabetes.
Have you already seen one or both shows? What was your thoughts on the shows? Has it changed how you view following a VLCD or do you think these shows have given more credibility to following a VLCD and take away some of the stigma of being a "Fad Diet"? Share your comments below to be in with a chance of winning a variety bar deal worth £36.99. Our favourite comment will be chosen on Wednesday 29th August at 4 pm! Be sure to leave your comment below to be in with a chance to win!
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