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Can a Low-Carb Diet Reduce the Need for Insulin in Gestational Diabetes?

A new study tested the use of low carbohydrate medical nutrition for the initial treatment of gestational diabetes compared to a control diet…. 

This randomized controlled trial, recently published in Diabetes Care, hypothesized that a low carbohydrate diet would reduce the rate of insulin therapy in gestational diabetes and lead to similar outcomes as a control diet.

Moreno-Castilla C. et al. enrolled 152 women with gestational diabetes in an open randomized study. One group of women followed a low-carb diet with 40% of the total diet energy content made up of carbohydrates. The control group of women followed a diet with at least 55% of the total diet energy content made up of carbohydrates. The amount of dietary carbohydrates consumed was confirmed by daily food records.

The results of the study were rather disappointing: found 54.7% of women required insulin therapy while adhering to the low-carb diet while 54.7% of women on the control diet required insulin, indicating no clinical or statistical significance between the two groups as a result of an intervention. The authors found no differences obstetric and perinatal outcomes between the two treatment groups.

The authors concluded, "Treatment of women with GDM using a low-CHO diet did not reduce the number of women needing insulin and produced similar pregnancy outcomes."

Moreno-Castilla C, Hernandez M, Bergua M, et al., "Low-Carbohydrate Diet for the Treatment of Gestational Diabetes: A randomized controlled trial." Diabetes Care. 2013 Apr 5. doi: 10.2337/dc12-2714