In 2011, Prof. Roy Taylor and colleagues found they could “reverse” type 2 diabetes with a very low-calorie diet. How low? 600–800 per day for eight weeks. His program—often called the Newcastle diet—has achieved some prominence in the United Kingdom but I don’t hear about it much over here across the pond. The clinical study in support of the program was very small—only 11 participants: 9 men and 2 women (with an average BMI of 33.6). I’m sure hundreds, if not thousands, have tried it since then.
I’m not endorsing or recommending the Newcastle diet at this time. I haven’t studied it in detail. It probably requires careful medical and dietitian supervision. Prof. Taylor says:
Our research subjects found the diet challenging to stick to. Motivated people were selected, and support from the team was given frequently. Support from the families of the research volunteers was very important in helping them comply with the diet. Hunger was not a particular problem after the first few days, but the complete change in social activities (not going to the pub, not joining in the family meals etc.) was a challenge over the eight weeks.
The purpose of this post is simply to collect a few informational links for my own records and for my readers who want to know more.
- Basic info about the plan from Prof. Taylor
- Information for physicians
- Seminal scientific report
- Prof. Taylor’s Banting Memorial Lecture on Reversing the Twin Cycles of Type 2 Diabetes
- My post on theoretical underpinnings of the Newcastle diet
- Professor Taylor recently found that T2 diabetes reversal can persist for six months if the initial weight loss can be maintained (abstract in Diabetes Care)
The original program utilizes Optifast liquid meals (600 calories/day) plus vegetables for another 200 calories. Prof. Taylor notes that products equivalent to Optifast may be more readily available and just as effective, but I don’t know what those are. Ensure? Carnation Instant Breakfast? Boost? Jevity?
Very low calorie diets like this are often referred to as starvation diets or crash diets. Starvation diets can cause weakness and easy fatigue, headaches, dizziness, hair loss, gallstones, electrolyte (blood mineral) disturbances, palpitations, nutritional deficiencies, skin problems, gout, kidney failure, or worse.
Even if successful, transitioning away from the eight-week Newcastle diet better be done carefully or the diabetes will return. Prevention of weight regain is harder than losing weight.