(HealthDay News) — Patients with type 2 diabetes may benefit from a higher-protein diet, but it may depend on whether or not they have a particular gene related to vitamin D metabolism, new research suggests. The study was published online September 29 in Diabetologia.

For the study, Qibin Qi, PhD, an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues included 645 overweight and obese adults who spent two years on one of four reduced-calorie diets. Two diets were relatively high in protein, with 25% of daily calories coming from protein; the other two had 15 percent of calories from protein. The amount of fat in the diets also varied – with two having relatively low amounts (20% of daily calories), and two were high-fat (40% of calories).

All of the diets were similarly effective for weight loss, with participants losing an average of 8–10 pounds. Differences in vitamin D-related genes showed no influence on weight loss overall; however, differences emerged for improvements in insulin. Most of the study participants had at least one copy of the “T” variant of the DHCR7 gene – which increases blood levels of vitamin D, the researchers found. And those patients tended to show greater improvements in insulin levels on the higher-protein diet, compared to the average-protein diet. They also responded better to the higher-protein plan compared with patients who did not carry the “T” variant.

“Overall, the effects of the different diets on weight loss were similar,” Qi told HealthDay. “I do think it’s the overall diet pattern that matters most – not a single nutrient. People should eat a balanced diet and get regular exercise.”

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