Cutting breakfast carbs can help people with type 2 diabetes to manage their diabetes

Low-carb start to the day can help control blood sugars.

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According to a study by the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan researchers, making a small adjustment to the day’s first meal may improve blood sugar control in persons with Type 2 diabetes

Drs. Barbara Oliveira and Jonathan Little discovered that going from a traditional western-style low-fat breakfast to a low-carb meal higher in protein and fat, such as eggs with bacon or cheese, can assist persons with T2D in better managing their blood sugar for the majority of the day.

Dr. Oliveira said, “We’re not talking about a complete diet overhaul; one of many complications for people living with T2D is rapid or large increases in blood glucose levels after meals. Our research indicates a low-carbohydrate meal, first thing in the morning, seems to help control blood sugar throughout the day.”

The new study discovered that changing just one meal helps maintain blood sugar under control. Controlling glucose levels is critical for decreasing T2D effects, such as inflammation and cardiovascular disease, which are the leading causes of morbidity in T2D patients. 

She adds, “Treatment strategies that can help lower post-meal glucose swings and rapid changes in glucose are crucial to managing this condition. We’ve determined that if the first meal of the day is low-carb and higher in protein and fat, we can limit hyperglycemic swings.”

The new study examined how making only the first meal of the day low-carb affected diet adherence and blood glucose levels.

Dr. Oliveira observes that low-carb diets have gained popularity recently and have been acknowledged as a nutritional approach to enhance glucose control. However, it’s challenging to remain to, especially over the long run, like other diets.

She and Dr. Little looked at the idea of making just the first meal of the day low-carb to see how that affects diet adherence and, more importantly, blood glucose levels rather than asking patients to commit to making every meal low-carb.

The study included 121 participants who were divided into two groups. One group was instructed to eat a selection of low-carb breakfasts containing approximately 8g of carbohydrates, 25g of protein, and 37g of fat, while the other group was instructed to eat a selection of low-fat higher-carb options containing approximately 56g of carbohydrates,, 20g of protein, and 15g of fat. In both groups, all breakfast alternatives offered 450 calories.

Participants received a variety of breakfast options and were required to upload a photo of their meal to certify compliance, which a study dietitian examined.

According to a new study, Participants in a low-carb breakfast trial had lower blood sugar levels, and some could discontinue their glucose-lowering medication. 

All participants were provided with a continuous glucose monitoring device they wore throughout the study. They also undertook A1C blood tests before and after the 12 weeks to measure their average blood sugar levels. 

They also measured their weight and waist circumference at the beginning and end of the trial. As the study continued, they reported feelings of satiety, energy, and activity levels.

According to the researcher, While there were no significant differences in weight, BMI, or waist circumference between the low-carb and other groups, the low-carb group did observe a reduction in blood sugar levels. Some were able to stop their glucose-lowering medication. 

The upward and downward fluctuations in blood glucose levels, known as glycemic variability, were also much lower in the low-carb group, indicating the benefits of a low-carbohydrate breakfast for stabilizing blood sugars throughout the day.

Participants also reported lower calorie and carbohydrate consumption at lunch and throughout the day, suggesting that a high-fat, protein-rich breakfast may be suitable for maintaining proper blood sugar levels.

Another interesting finding was that those who consumed the low-carb breakfast self-reported consuming less calories and carbs at lunch and throughout the rest of the day. This would imply that a breakfast high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates can affect daily eating patterns.

She said, “Having fewer carbs for breakfast not only aligns better with how people with T2D handle glucose throughout the day, but it also has incredible potential for people with T2D who struggle with their glucose levels in the morning, By making a small adjustment to the carb content of a single meal rather than the entire diet, we have the potential to increase adherence significantly while still obtaining significant benefits.”

The study was conducted in association with the University of Wollongong in Australia, and it was partially supported by peer-reviewed funding from the American Egg Board and the Canadian Egg Farmers.

Journal Reference:

  1. Oliveira, B. F., Chang, et al. Impact of a Low-Carbohydrate Compared with Low-Fat Breakfast on Blood Glucose Control in Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.04.032