This article is for professionals. If you would like to read information on low-carb diets for people with diabetes, you can find this on our low-carb diet and meal plan page.
Here at Diabetes UK, we have put together this position statement to explain how low carb diets might be used to help manage diabetes. We used the best level of evidence to inform the recommendations and conclusions.
Together with the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) we have released a report which recommends lower carb diets as a short-term effective option for adults with type 2 diabetes who have obesity or overweight. This includes low carb diets providing 50 – 130g of carbs a day. These diets can help with weight loss, glucose management and reduce the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. So, we can recommend them for some adults with type 2 diabetes. But, there is no consistent evidence that a low carb diet is any more effective than other approaches in the long term. So it shouldn’t be seen as the diet for everyone.
At the moment, there is no strong evidence to say that a low carb diet is safe or effective for people with type 1 diabetes. Because of this, we do not recommend low carb diets to people with type 1 diabetes.
Evidence for low carb diets in children reports adverse effects such as poor growth, a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and psychological problems. So, we don’t recommend low carb diets for children with diabetes.
People should be encouraged to eat more vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, pulses, seafood, nuts, and to eat less red meat and processed meat, sugar sweetened drinks, sugar sweetened foods, and refined grains such as white bread.
‘It is extremely important that dietary recommendations are based on good evidence rather than individual opinions. This position statement has been put together using the best evidence available, taking into consideration anecdotal reports and feedback from people with diabetes, and healthcare professionals. We hope that it is helpful in explaining our position on the role of low carb diets in diabetes management. Douglas Twenefour, dietitian and Diabetes UK deputy head of care.