Low-Carbohydrate Diet for the Treatment of Gestational Diabetes

A randomized controlled trial

  1. Didac Mauricio, MD, PHD1,2,3
  1. 1Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Hospital Universitari Arnau de Vilanova, Lleida, Spain
  2. 2Department of Medicine, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain
  3. 3Institut de Recerca Biomedica de Lleida, Lleida, Spain
  4. 4Department of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain
  5. 5Unitat de Salut Publica i Nutricio, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Institut d’Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili, Reus, Spain
  1. Corresponding author: Didac Mauricio, didacmauricio{at}
  1. C.M.-C. and M.H. contributed equally to this study.


OBJECTIVE Medical nutrition therapy based on the control of the amount and distribution of carbohydrates (CHO) is the initial treatment for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), but there is a need for randomized controlled trials comparing different dietary strategies. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that a low-CHO diet for the treatment of GDM would lead to a lower rate of insulin treatment with similar pregnancy outcomes compared with a control diet.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS A total of 152 women with GDM were included in this open, randomized controlled trial and assigned to follow either a diet with low-CHO content (40% of the total diet energy content as CHO) or a control diet (55% of the total diet energy content as CHO). CHO intake was assessed by 3-day food records. The main pregnancy outcomes were also assessed.

RESULTS The rate of women requiring insulin was not significantly different between the treatment groups (low CHO 54.7% vs. control 54.7%; P = 1). Daily food records confirmed a difference in the amount of CHO consumed between the groups (P = 0.0001). No differences were found in the obstetric and perinatal outcomes between the treatment groups.

CONCLUSIONS Treatment of women with GDM using a low-CHO diet did not reduce the number of women needing insulin and produced similar pregnancy outcomes. In GDM, CHO amount (40 vs. 55% of calories) did not influence insulin need or pregnancy outcomes.

  • Received December 30, 2012.
  • Accepted February 5, 2013.

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