Published: 01/05/2022

Is the Atkins Diet appropriate for people with type 2 diabetes (T2D)?

In a 2019 consensus report, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) affirmed that reducing overall carbohydrate intake has demonstrated the most evidence for improving glycemia in people with type 2 diabetes, and low- or very low-carbohydrate eating plans, like the Atkins Diet, are a viable approach for adults with type 2 diabetes who are not meeting glycemic targets, or for whom reducing anti-glycemic medications is a priority. In their 2020 guidelines, the ADA went as far as stating, “Reducing overall carbohydrate intake for individuals with diabetes has demonstrated the most evidence for improving glycemia and may be applied in a variety of eating patterns that meet individual needs and preferences (36).

Additionally, multiple well controlled studies have demonstrated that low-carbohydrate diets (like Atkins Diet) can be extremely beneficial for people with T2D.

In a study by Hussain, et al. (37), 363 people diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes were offered either a standard low-fat diet, a low-calorie diet or a ketogenic diet, similar to Atkins. After 6 months, weight loss and blood lipid changes were significantly better with the Atkins-type diet compared to the standard diet. And, among people with diabetes on the ketogenic diet, both HbA1c and fasting glucose were reduced to near-normal levels, with concurrent reductions in diabetes medications. Similar results have been reported by Boden et al (38), Bistrian et al (39), Dashti et al (40), all demonstrating that carbohydrate restriction can improve glucose control, reduce serum insulin levels, and reduce or obviate medication requirements in patients with type 2 diabetes. For more information on to put this into practice, please visit the Atkins resource: Low-Carbohydrate Nutrition Approaches in Patients with Obesity, Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.