It has been found that people with type 2 diabetes are just as likely to control their blood sugar and thus lose weight by following a rigid diet twice a week as they are to follow a restrictive one every day.
The effects of this diet, termed the 5:2 diet, were studied by researchers at the University of South Australia. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It was the first long-term clinical trial that has studied diets for people with type 2 diabetes.
"Conventional weight-loss diets with daily energy restrictions are difficult for people to adhere to so we must look for alternative solutions," explained Dr. Peter Clifton, a nutrition professor at the university.
The yearlong study involved 137 people aged 18 and older who had type 2 diabetes. Half followed a 5:2 diet while the others consumed 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day; the study took place from April 2015 to September 2017.
It was found that consuming 500 to 600 calories for two non-consecutive days, plus a normal diet for the remaining days resulted in weight loss and improved hemoglobin A1c (a measure of blood glucose levels).
"Intermittent energy restriction is an effective alternative diet strategy for the reduction of HbA1c level comparable to continuous energy restriction in patients with type 2 diabetes, and it may be superior to continuous energy restriction for weight reduction," the investigators reported.
However, the 5:2 diet is not suitable for everyone. Patients using insulin and other oral medications may experience low blood glucose levels and should have their medication doses changed accordingly.