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Position Statement: Low carbohydrate eating for people with diabetes

This position statement draws on the latest evidence and provides practical advice and information for people with diabetes considering a low carbohydrate eating plan.

Diabetes Australia has developed this statement in response to enquiries from people with diabetes, health professionals and the general public.

 

Low Carb Position Statement Cover

Key points

1. For people with type 2 diabetes, there is reliable evidence that lower carb eating can be safe and useful in lowering average blood glucose levels in the short term (up to 6 months). It can also help reduce body weight and help manage heart disease risk factors such as raised cholesterol and raised blood pressure.

 

2. For people with type 1 diabetes, a number of recent studies are reporting benefits of lower carb eating, however these studies are limited in their size and design and do not provide strong evidence of benefit.  Diabetes Australia believes high quality, large scale, longerterm studies are necessary to further establish the effectiveness and safety of low carb eating for people with type 1 diabetes.

 

3. All people with any type of diabetes who wish to follow a low carb diet should do so in consultation with their diabetes healthcare team.

 

4. People with diabetes who commence low carb eating should monitor their blood glucose levels and, if necessary, talk to their doctor about the need to adjust their diabetes medication to reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose).

 

5. People with diabetes considering low carb eating are encouraged to seek personalised advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian experienced in diabetes management. There are some practical considerations that need to be taken into account to ensure the eating plan is safe and enjoyable, provides adequate nutrition for general health, is culturally appropriate and fits into the person's lifestyle.

 

6. People with diabetes considering low carb eating should be aware of possible side effects (such as tiredness, headaches and nausea) and seek advice from their health care team if concerned.

 

7. Low carb eating may not be safe and is not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people at risk of malnutrition, people with kidney or liver failure, or those with a history of disordered eating or some rare metabolic conditions.

 

8. People with type 1 diabetes may experience sudden drops in blood glucose levels and be at a higher risk of hypoglycaemia when following a low carb eating plan. They should talk with their diabetes healthcare team before starting low carb eating.

 

9. All Australians, including people who choose to follow a low carb eating plan, should be encouraged to eat foods proven to be beneficial to good health. These include whole fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, dairy foods, nuts, legumes, seafood, fresh meat and eggs.

 

10. All Australians should be encouraged to limit their intake of foods that are high in energy, carbohydrate or salt, including processed foods such as sugary drinks, chips, cakes, biscuits, pastries and lollies.

Full statement

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