Well Being

Reversing Diabetes: This Is What A 600-Calorie Diet Looks Like

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Yesterday, I posted about recent research findings on weight-loss and diabetes done by researchers at Britain’s Newcastle University. In the study, 11 patients who had developed Type 2 diabetes later in life were put on a doctor-supervised 600-calorie-per-day diet, which included “a special diet drink” and non-starch vegetables. After eight weeks on the diet, the patients showed no signs of diabetes, and three months after returning to a normal diet, seven remained completely free of the disease. Not surprisingly, all of this has led to questions about whether 600 calories a day is really safe and, if so, what the diet would look like.

Obviously, there are safe and unsafe ways to restrict calories. Consuming nothing but sugar-free jello and chicken broth isn't a good idea. And embarking on a massively restricted diet (no matter how nutritionally sound) for any length of time without consulting a doctor or nutritionist could be dangerous. But when supervised by a doctor or qualified professional, and sticking to a nutritionally-balanced diet made up mostly of low-cal vegetables, severe calorie restriction can be done safely (in fact, there’s some evidence that a degree of calorie restriction can improve longevity).

In the British study, patients consumed:

  • A liquid diet formula called Optifast. It’s a product of Nestlé Nutrition that’s made up of 46.4 percent carbohydrate, 32.5 percent protein and 20.1 percent fat, along with other vitamins and minerals.
  • Non-starchy vegetables. The diet drink was supplemented with three portions per day of non-starchy vegetables (common non-starchy veggies include beets, broccoli, bean sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, mushrooms, peas, salad greens, summer squash, Swiss chard and zucchini).


Patients were also encouraged to drink at least two liters of water each day, and “maintain their habitual level of physical activity.”

Gordon Parmley, 67, was one of the patients involved. Parmley was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes six years ago. “When my doctor mentioned the trial I thought I would give it a go as it might help me and other diabetics,” he said in a Newcastle University press release.

When my doctor mentioned the trial I thought I would give it a go as it might help me and other diabetics. I came off my tablets and had three diet shakes a day and some salad or vegetables but it was very, very difficult and I’m not sure I’d have done it without the support of my wife who went on a diet alongside me. At first the hunger was quite severe and I had to distract myself with something else – walking the dog, playing golf – or doing anything to occupy myself and take my mind off food, but I lost an astounding amount of weight in a short space of time. At the end of the trial, I was told my insulin levels were normal and after six years, I no longer needed my diabetes tablets. Still today, 18 months on, I don’t take them. It’s astonishing really that a diet – hard as it was – could change my health so drastically.

Would you be willing to go on diet shakes and vegetables to rid yourself of diabetes or any other disease?