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Low-fat diets for type 2 diabetes remission

Bowl of white chicken pieces with green leafy vegetables and potatoes in a sauce.

We're going to explore whether a low-fat diet can help you put your type 2 diabetes into remission.

What is a low-fat diet?

A low-fat diet is one where you restrict the amount of saturated fats you eat. Saturated fat is found in lots of food like:

  • Butter, ghee, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Sausages, bacon, and cured meats like salami, chorizo, and pancetta
  • Cheese, coconut milk and coconut cream, cream, ice-cream
  • Pastries like meat pies, samosas, quiches, sausage rolls and pakoras

There are different opinions on the exact amount of fat you should eat on a low-fat diet but our bodies need some fat to help them work and protect our organs.

It’s better to think of a low-fat diet as a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat. You can do this by swapping out foods high in unhealthy fats – like the ones listed above – for foods containing healthier fats like:

  • Rapeseed and olive oil
  • Oily fish and salmon or mackerel
  • Eggs and avocado
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Leafy green veg like kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, and bok choy

Choosing these healthier fats will help your body get the nutrients it needs. 

Does a low-fat diet work for type 2 diabetes remission?

The key to type 2 diabetes remission is weight loss. To lose weight you need to reduce the number of calories you consume. Eating fewer fatty foods can reduce your overall calorie intake, helping you to lose weight. And people have put their type 2 diabetes into remission this way. 

This is because fat is higher in calories than carbohydrates like wholemeal bread and pasta, and proteins like eggs, lean meat, nuts, and tofu. Eating too much fat can lead to you taking on more calories than your body needs, which over time can cause you to put on weight.

"What I’ve recently started, and has been life changing for me, is a plant-based diet that is low in fat. I’m not wanting to eat between meals, I’m cooking without oils and fat, and having massive salads and loads of green veg to fill myself up.

I’m slowly losing the weight, which is good. My blood sugar is improving and my HbA1c, which was around 61mmol/mol, is now down to 51mmol/mol.

I feel as if I’m working towards remission again, and I think if I carry on with this regime and manage my sugar levels, then I’m happy to continue with this eating plan for the rest of my life." – Read more about Snita's type 2 remission story

Is a low-fat diet right for me?

There are a lot of different ways to lose weight – but there’s no one-size-fits-all diet. Everyone’s different and what works for some may not work for others.

Evidence shows that the best approach is the one that you’re likely to stick to. So, finding a plan that you enjoy and fits in with the rest of your life can make all the difference.

If you choose to follow a low-fat diet, remember that it’s important to include some fat in your diet – like oily fish such as sardines and salmon, walnuts, linseeds, leafy green veg, and vegetable oils such as sunflower oil or spread. Your body needs some fat.

If you choose to reduce fat, look closely at the food labels on the front of packages. The label tells you how much fat is in the product.

A product is low in fat if it has 3g or less of fat per 100g. But be aware that some low-fat products have added sugar in them, which is used to replace the fat. Choosing foods that have more green or amber traffic lights on the label can help make healthier choices.

Where can I go for more information?

  • If you want to learn more about fat and reducing your intake of unhealthy fats, check out our guide fats and diabetes.
  • For low fat recipe ideas, go to our Recipe Finder. You can filter the results by 'low fat'. There are over 200 recipes available. 
  • Before you make any significant changes to your diet, we always suggest you speak to your healthcare team who can give you personalised advice on what’s the best and safest approach for you. 


Next Review Date
Content last reviewed
29 January 2024
Next review due
29 January 2027
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