Can Low-Carb Help Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes insulin treatment unaffected by low carbohydrate diet

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Gestational diabetes is one common pregnancy complication women might face. How much can a woman's diet influence her treatment for this condition?

A recent study found that reducing carbohydrates in a pregnant woman's diet did not appear to influence her treatment for gestational diabetes.

The same number of women in a low carb diet group and a regular diet group ended up needing insulin for their condition.

"Attend all prenatal appointments."

The study, led by Cristina Moreno-Castilla, MSc, RD, of Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition at Spain's Hospital Universitari Arnau de Vilanova, aimed to learn whether a low carbohydrate diet was effective for women with gestational diabetes.

The  researchers divided 152 pregnant women with gestational diabetes into two groups. One group was assigned to follow a low carbohydrate diet where only 40 percent of the women's calories came from carbs.

The other group followed a control diet in which 55 percent of the total calories came from carbohydrates.

Both groups' diets included approximately 20 percent protein. The total calorie amounts, which were at least 1,800 calories, were determined for each woman based on her pre-pregnancy weight.

The women's diets were confirmed on three different days during the study period and adjusted if necessary. After the first assessment, both groups were eating fewer carbohydrates than they had been prescribed, so they received dietary counseling so that they were at the target amount by the second assessment.

The women began the diets at their diagnosis of gestational diabetes, and the researchers compared the groups according to how many women in each group ended up requiring insulin treatment.

A total of 41 women in each group, or 54.7 percent of each group, required insulin treatment. With the same percentage of women in both groups needing treatment, the researchers concluded that the low carbohydrate diet did not prevent women from requiring insulin treatment.

When the researchers made adjustments to account for differences between the personal characteristics and demographics of the women in both groups, they still found that the low carb diet did not appear to make a difference in a woman's need for insulin.

The researchers also compared pregnancy outcomes among the women and found no differences between those on the low carb diet and those on the control diet.

The study was published April 5 in the journal Diabetes Care. Information regarding funding was not available. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
April 11, 2013
Last Updated:
January 23, 2014