Diet 5: 2: A good choice for gestational diabetes

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Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs only during pregnancy and in which the body does not produce an adequate amount of insulin, which causes the blood glucose level to rise. Weight loss after gestational diabetes can prevent type 2 diabetes. However, finding the most effective way to lose weight and maintain weight can be a challenge, especially for mothers with a new baby.

New research from the University of South Australia suggests that a 5:2 or intermittent fasting diet is just as effective as a conventional energy-restricted diet, allowing women more choice and flexibility when it comes to losing weight.

This diet allows for five days of normal eating each week, while substantially limiting calories for two days a week, as opposed to a typical diet that requires moderate daily energy restrictions.

Globally, one in five pregnancies is affected by gestational diabetes, with women at ten times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Those who have had gestational diabetes and are also overweight have an even higher risk. Type 2 diabetes has lifelong consequences and can lead to other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Lead researcher Dr. Kristy Gray of UniSA says the discovery will be welcomed by women who want to lose weight. “Gestational diabetes is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia, affecting 15% of pregnancies,” he said.

“Healthy eating and regular physical activity are recommended for the management of gestational diabetes, with continuous energy-restricted diets, or diets that reduce calories by 25-30%, being the most common strategy for weight loss and diabetes prevention.”

“The problem is, however, that new moms are often in the last place – struggling with fatigue and juggling family responsibilities – so when it comes to weight loss, many find it difficult to maintain a low-calorie diet.”

“Our research shows that the 5:2 diet is as effective in weight loss as a continuous diet with energy restrictions in women who have had gestational diabetes, which is great because it gives women more options and control.”

“Of course, women should seek the advice of a healthcare professional before starting this type of diet to make sure it is right for them.”

The research investigated both the effects of the 5:2 diet (five days of normal diet and two days of 500 calories) and those of a continuous diet with energy restrictions (1500 calories per day) on weight loss and risk markers. Both diets restricted energy by about 25 percent each week.

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