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Very low-calorie diets (VLCD) are hypocaloric dietary regimens of approximately 400–800 kcal/day that result in 20–30% reductions in body weight, sometimes in just 12–16 weeks. A body of evidence demonstrates that adherence to VLCD in adults with type 2 diabetes (T2D) can result in marked improvements to glycemic control and even full T2D remission, challenging the convention that T2D is a lifelong disease. Although these data are promising, the majority of VLCD studies have focused on weight loss and not T2D remission as a primary endpoint. Moreover, there is a wide range of VLCD protocols and definitions of T2D remission used across these hypocaloric studies. Together the large degree of heterogeneity in VLCD studies, and how T2D remission is defined, leave many gaps in knowledge to efficacy and durability of VLCD approaches for T2D remission. This narrative review examines findings from a body of data from VLCD studies that specifically sought to investigate T2D remission, and discusses the efficacy of VLCD compared to other hypocaloric approaches, and who is likely to benefit from VLCD approaches for T2D remission.


This work was originally published in Nutrients, available at 10.3390/nu13062086

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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