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

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?

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    • Emma


      A European filmmaker has been reversing weight problems in NON diabetics with a Diabetes diet.

      It has been giving people who have a hard time losing weight a normal body weight fast

      It is now used in 10 countries. ALL weight issues are caused by Food chemicals( PROCESSED FOODS) and he shows how to reverse it

      see here

      or just google SPIIRTHAPPY.ORG

    • Stephanie

      I don’t see why anyone with Type 2 Diabetes wouldn’t do this! It’s only 8 weeks, for a lifetime of health! I’d totally do it if I had the disease. It does show how diet really does influence health.

    • Heather

      What’s important to note here is this was a small group, specially selected for the trial. If most diabetics tried to implement something like this themselves, they’d likely end up in the hospital (or worse).

      Even under supervision from a doctor, the complete elimination of Type II diabetes via diet/dramatic weight loss would not be possible for everyone. Although the steep incline in Type II diabetes is related to the rising overweight and obesity trend, Type II diabetes can and does effect millions of people who are predisposed genetically or who have other medical conditions that trigger the on-set of the disease.

    • Briana Rognlin

      I hear you, Heather, but I do think it’s inspiring that there are doctors and scientists saying that even if it diabetes is partially or fully related to genetics, there might be ways to manage or even cure it through lifestyle and behavior. It’s so much more inspiring than being resigned to our genes and assuming our only options are medications or sickness and death. (There are a lot of doctors practicing what they call “Functional Medicine” who speak more in-depth about this concept; you can also check out Dr. Frank Lipman’s FAQ on epigenetics for more info about how some doctors think you can outsmart your genes.)

      That said, ANYONE who wants to go off their meds or try a restriction diet like the one outlined in this post absolutely needs to find a supportive doctor beforehand. This really is a drastic diet, and needs to be done under supervision, especially if you have diabetes or other medical conditions.

      Thanks for reading, everyone!
      Briana Rognlin

      • Linda

        The point that was made here is ground breaking.
        Of course if you don’t eat, you don’t need insulin to break down sugars. that is obvious. And sugar levels went down week 1.
        What this study showed was a “cure”.
        Cleaning out the pancreas and liver of fat healed the organs inability to produce necessary healthy levels of insulin.
        They are saying that they HEALED those organs.
        I want to try this!!!
        People have fasted for 100′s of years. I am planning more of my own research.

    • Aimee

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

      No. I would rather eat actual food and be healthy!

      There has been alot of evidence to prove that restrictive and low cal diets do not work long term. People who usually restrict themselves to these low extremes once the limited time is over not only go right back to what they were doing before, often they will be even worse for a bit since they haven’t had this stuff for a while.

      Do these magic shakes give you the knowledge on what food is healthy and what is not? Do they teach you about food groups, calories, carbs, sugars, etc? Do they give you any idea on portion control?

      It is all well in good to get your diabetic numbers down in 8 weeks but it is not a cure. Sadly there is no get out of jail free card here. It is not easy and you have to focus on long term goals.

      You have to take the time and effort to learn about nutrition and what you are putting into your body and what it all means.

      So you can plan a healthy dinner. So you can go shopping and sort through everything there and buy the good stuff. So you can go out to a restaurant with family/friends and be able to make a good choice off the menu.

      Since discovering I had diabetes I became a star patient. I worked very hard and got my numbers down with diet & exercise. I have lost a ton of weight & am in great shape. I eat more now then I did before. Because once you cut out junk & empty calories like soda you can discover that actual healthy food is not that calorie dense crap lol.

    • Bobby

      Sounds very good but a 11 patient study doesn’t show or prove anything. That being said under supervision for a diabetic it would be worth a try in my opinion.

    • Ellie

      Here’s a great documentary called Simply Raw:

      Six people with type 1 and 2 diabetes are sent to a retreat where they eat nothing but raw food. And as much raw food as they want–no starving here! The results are incredible.

    • Nigel Cummings

      I am a diabetic type II, after poor diabetic contriol, undiagnosed for some years, I managed to get my HBA1c reading down to 6.4 by stringently observing a diet of normal food, but in restricted quantities – my cholesterol level fell by 50% too!
      I am definitely goingto try this diet as soon as my order for optifast optifast arrives!

    • pragnesh patel

      i would love to try this diet, if i can get a set diet program if anyone who knowa this diet program can they post it on this wall please .

    • Karen

      Today is day 56 and the last day of my 600 Calorie Diabetic Diet. My fasting blood count this morning was 99 and I have lost 32 pounds. I read the study entirely and found a protein drink as close to the “Optifast” as I could. The “Muscle Milk” I found was pretty close except it only had 150 calories, instead of the 160, provided by “Optifast”. I found when I read the study that the first four weeks your weight and blood count improves. However, it’s the last four weeks that allows your pancreases and liver to flush out and hopefully “reset”. I was never hungry, drank lots of water and didn’t cheat, ever. I had gestational diabetes 18 years ago (insulin injections and restricted diet) and was told that I would develop it again later in life. I have always watched my blood count and this past winter it kept getting higher and higher. It was lower to mid 200’s and I knew it was time to go to the doctor. But I heard about this study and I thought diet or drugs?

      I first completed a week’s worth of base line blood count and blood pressure for comparison and my highest blood count was at 270 (fasting). I figured if my BP went up, I would stop and go to the doctor. I dropped my count below 140 after the first week and in the last week it has been below 100, five of seven days. My family was very supportive taking over the cooking and shopping. I found when I wasn’t busy my mind would wander towards cooking. I did find that I had extra time (not cooking and eating) and focused on my hobbies, away from the kitchen.

      I don’t know if it will “reset” or not. But, I feel better and I know I have it under control once again. I will continue to monitor my blood count and BP and see my doctor next month for my yearly exam. I will be 56 years old this year and the last time I weighed 160 lbs., I was just finishing high school over 35 years ago.

      • nadee

        dear Karen,

        Can u write in detail the contents and preparation of’Muscle Milk.

    • monica

      i am 32 and have had diabetes since my first baby was born in ’98 it went undiagnosed for about 7 years, after having lots of difficulty accepting it to begin with i went with it poorly managed til 2 years ago and now i am told i need insulin. i refuse to accept the insulin and am determined to try anything that will help me get rid of the diabetes!!! ive started the diet and i will report back when i am done with it and ive got rid of the diabetes! see you in 8 weeks!!! and thank you!

    • Karen

      Three weeks ago I finished the 600 calorie diet. Here’s the outcome of my experience. The first 2 weeks after the diet my fasting blood count fluctuated between 99 and 148. I resumed my regular diet, but smaller portions and was more conscious of what I was eating. I gained back 5 pounds in the first week, but then lost it once again. My fasting blood count this morning was 118 (I was expecting more like 150), even though I had a blueberry scone for snack and ravioli & salad for dinner yesterday. My portions are smaller than before, because I’m not hungry. I still drink the protein “Muscle Milk” for breakfast or lunch, to make sure that I get enough protein during the day (it’s an easy meal). While on the 8 week diet, my meals were already planned out, with lots of water and at the same time every day. I have tried to do the same with my meals now. My problem before the 8 week diet was not making my meals a priority. I didn’t eat very much at all during the day, but when I found time to eat (usually late in the day), it was large portions & the wrong things.

      For anyone considering trying this 8 week diet, please remember it will take a lot of will power, from start to finish. I told my family I would not do any cooking or shopping, unless I wanted to – I didn’t want to be tempted. The first time you don’t get to take part in a special family meal, or an obstacle is thrown at you, it will be real easy to give up. But once you get past the first couple of weeks, you will see numbers come down, both blood count & weight. Also, please remember that the last 4 weeks are more important than the first, in flushing out your liver and pancreases. Even though you made it through the first four, please continue until the 8 weeks are finished. I changed my eating for 8 weeks this summer and I would do the 600 calorie diet every summer for the rest of my life, especially if it meant not having to deal with diabetes.

      According to the study, it doesn’t work for everyone. But I think it has worked for me and hopefully it will for others. For anyone else that tries the 8 week diet, I wish you all the best for your good health.

    • Karen

      The study was done using Nestle’s Optifast. According to the label from Nestle it has 160 calories, 14g of protein, 20 g of carbs, 3g of fat, 220g of sodium, 470g potassium, -0-g of fiber, and 10-30% of recommended daily allowance of vitamins & minerals. I found at a health food store in the mall a nutritional shake called “Muscle Milk” by Cytosport. It has 150 calories, 15g of protein, 6g of carbs, 76g of fat, 210g of sodium, 490g potassium, -0-g of fiber, and 15% of recommended daily allowance of vitamins & minerals. I found that this was a bit cheaper and easier to get, than the Nestle’s Optifast. I also drank 3 or more 32 oz. bottles of water and multi-vitamins daily.
      You are also allowed to have 3 servings of non-starchy vegetables during the day. You may have 1 cup of raw or ½ cup of cooked veggies per serving. I also used a small amount (1 tsp) of balsamic vinegar on my salad & veggies.

    • Karen

      Here’s where you can download the study.

      Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol

      By E. L. Lim, K. G. Hollingsworth, B. S. Aribisala, M. J. Chen, J. C. Mathers, R. Taylor

      • Nishim3

        Hi Karen, I’m a 52 year old woman and have been diabetic for 10 years. Last week I threw out my diabetic meds because the side effects were making me very very sick and adopted a low carb, mostly veggies and veggie protein way of eating. I know my sugar numbers are not going to be perfect but I’m feeling way better than I was on the meds. I definitely want to do this diet but will be travelling for a few months soon – I know I’ll be able to sustain the food habits that I mentioned but not the 600 calorie diet while I travel. I’d like to stay in touch with you if possible and stay updated on how you’re doing after going off the diet. If you don’t mind, please write to me at (I didn’t want to post an email add here but created this just because I’m really serious about trying this diet). Thanks – I hope you continue to stay well and healthy. God bless!

    • Kai

      I would be willing to go on an 8 week diet to get rid of my diabetes. I’ve only been diagnosed a month ago and hate it, hate the thought that I could lose my vision, have a limb (or more) amputated, etc. because of diabetes. Yes, I just upped my daily exercise, am considering telling my job to shove it because it forces me to sit for 9.5 hours a day (and I can’t even get in enough time to eat regular meals). And I just did an 8 week no-yeast diet to cut down on the yeast in my body which had gotten out of control so I can do it. I never been a bread or potato eater so I’m finding I have to force more carbs on me then I normally eat just to meet the prescribed carb goal the doc/diabetes nurse/dietitian gave me and I’m not going to last too long having to eat bread so frequently. If I started now, I could be done by Thanksgiving (not that I over eat at Thanksgiving anymore and the whole family is making healthy dishes these days).

    • Jay

      Question for karen Iv been reading about this 600cal diet, and came across this page. The muscle milk how does that work ? like how many times a day and how many scoops do you take, did you eat any thing to make up the cal or just the shakes ? thanks jay

    • LOU

      I’ll try it ?

    • jim snell

      These starvation diets along with bariatric surgery, lap band, intestine liner are addressing something that has been totally ignored by medical science having to do with glucose saturation and insulin resistance.

      Dropping the glucose generation from diet ( and from liver on metformin) enables getting the distrututed storage sites of the body off loaded so they can go back aborbing more glucose on insulin command.

      As 64+ person with 30 years as type 2 and last 4 years fixing after stroke; I believe current medical science is in polite terms standing in dead end tunnel with lights turned off baying at moon totally off track.

      The type one thinking – just add more insulin , failing that actos while ignoring insulin resistance is sheer incompetence and/or bad science.
      In a distributed glucose storage system of human body, turning off insulin receptors of skeletal muscle and fat cells is normal key cell function to prevent cells from becoming over loaded and killed. As not all muscle/fat cells are burning glucose all at same rate depending on need/exercise , body has to have way to stop chronic overloading of remote independent glucose storage sites and that is to turn off insulin receptors-down grade sensitivity.
      Chronic overloading of glucose supply leads to max insulin resistance and backing glucose up in blood supply raising numbers and rotting out body. Reduced/carb control, hearty exercise and stalling incorrect excessive liver glucose release are critical to get the skeletal muscle cells off loaded from glucose and returning space to glucose stores to constantly store glucose and maintain blood system glucose regulation on insulin command.

      The attitude one can keep storing ever increasing amounts of glucose in a fixed size storage system is medical sciences infinite energy motion machine. Nice try.

      In my case, glyburide/starlix and excess 75/25 insulin nearly rotted out my body, eyes, kidneys and body till liver excess glucose release stopped by metformin doses properly timed, 1200 calorie diet and tight carbs control and 2 miles walking a day.

      My weight finally dropped from 330 to 240 pounds, eye hemorrhages disappeared, A1C dropped from 13.3 to 6.4 and average BG down to 140. This is not one day wonder but over 4 years period.

      Yes and I took my vitamin and other supplements .
      It is a tragedy that modern medical science can get so lost in space listening to lobbyist spin and orthodoxy sucking in millions of dollars and end up spending 4% on cures.

      Look at bariatric surgery, lap band, intestine liners, starvation diets et all and the unexplained recovery of pancreatic control and stopping rot. I hesitate to use word cure as being able to eat anything in any amounts does not apply. Once control returned, extensive carbs/diet limitation control and hearty exercise needed to maintain control or slip back out again.