In 2020, the NHS launched a year-long research trial aimed at helping those recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes lose weight, a key factor in managing and, in some cases, reversing the condition.
Based on the evidence from two major studies (the DiRECT trial and the DROPLET trial) the NHS launched The NHS Low Calorie Diet Programme, also known as the NHS Soup and Shakes Diet or the NHS Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission Programme (it has had a few names over the years!).
The NHS spends £10 billion treating type 2 diabetes and its complications every year, making effective treatment a major health priority. In recent years, life-changing research has made the hope of finding a solution a reality.
Weight loss is now widely acknowledged as an effective way to achieve remission, with clinical trials showing that of individuals who lost over 15kg of weight, 86% successfully reached remission.
While the NHS programme is a new initiative, it isn’t a unique method. The premise behind the programme, a low-calorie meal plan combined with behavioural support for long-term habit change, is exactly what we offer here at Habitual.
Available from as little as £115/month, our flexible meal plans provide a suitable alternative for individuals unable to access the NHS Low Calorie Diet Programme. Find out more about our plans, including cost, duration, and what you can expect to achieve—or if you’d like to try our meals before signing up to a full programme, you can do so here.
Our meal plans help you follow a daily 800 calorie diet using Habitual soups and shakes, your own home-cooked meals, or a combination of the two. With low-calorie recipes, personalised care, private support groups, and our expert behaviour change programme, our app completes your plan and partners with you on your journey to better health.
Everything we do here at Habitual is backed by science. Our plans are based on decades of scientific research and follow the latest practices in type 2 diabetes care, nutrition, and behaviour change science.
Our co-founders, Dr Ian Braithwaite and Napala Pratini, met helping to deliver type 2 diabetes reversal research. They soon realised the potential to help millions of people change their lives for the better by addressing not only weight, but also overall health and wellbeing. This philosophy is central to our mission as we work hard to make better health accessible to as many people as possible.
Those eligible to take part in the NHS programme are provided with ‘total diet replacement’ products for 3 months. These soups and shakes provide around 800 calories a day and participants are also given behavioural coaching to increase their exercise levels.
After this 3-month period participants gradually reintroduce ordinary, nutritious food with ongoing support from expert clinicians and diet coaches.
Participants can choose between face-to-face and digital coaching to go alongside their total diet replacement plan.
To join the NHS Low Calorie Diet Programme, individuals must meet initial eligibility criteria, including:
Both Habitual and the NHS shakes & soups approaches are based on the same scientific evidence, but the key difference is accessibility. Thanks to the digital delivery of our behaviour change programme, resources, and support via the Habitual app, our programme is accessible to everyone in the UK, including those without a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
The health and safety of our members is our primary concern, which is why we liaise with GPs prior to starting a plan to ensure all medical needs are covered.
Please note that we do require an eligibility assessment to ensure you are safe to participate in a shakes & soups programme.
The full Habitual meal range includes soups, shakes, and porridges in 10 different flavours. Each meal is nutritionally-complete, providing you with everything you need to feel your best while losing weight. The number of meals you eat each day is dependent on the plan you join.
We appreciate that total diet replacement (a shakes and soups diet) isn’t for everyone and that sometimes, life has other ideas. Our three different plans, starting at £99 a month, give you the flexibility you need to confidently follow your plan without compromising on everyday life.
Science underpins everything we do here at Habitual, and our meal plans are no different. Over the last few years, the scientific community has gathered a significant amount of evidence demonstrating the role of weight loss in type 2 diabetes reversal.
Following promising results from smaller studies, the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) set out to determine the role of weight loss in type 2 diabetes remission.
The trial enrolled 306 participants, all of whom had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the previous 6 years. Half of the participants received the existing care plan for type 2 diabetes while the other half followed a low-calorie total diet replacement (TDR) plan before gradually reintroducing food and following a behaviour change programme.
The long-term progress of participants is still being collected but the outcomes from the early years have already changed our understanding of type 2 diabetes care.
After the first year, nearly half the participants (45.6%) on the low-calorie TDR programme were in remission. The amount of weight lost seemed to strongly influence remission, with 86% of people who lost 15kg+ reversing their type 2 diabetes, 57% of those who lost 10-15kg, and 34% of people who lost 5-10kg. After the second year, 70% of those in remission at the 1-year mark were still in remission.
The results of a similar study, published after the DiRECT trial, found similarly astounding results—following a low-calorie TDR and physical exercise programme, over 60% of participants reached type 2 remission.
TDR programmes provide people with around 800 calories a day via a liquid diet but it isn’t the only way to follow a low-calorie diet. A number of reliable studies have gone on to explore whether its possible to achieve the benefits of TDR programmes with an 800 calorie food-based diet. Participants across all three studies achieved a weight loss of 9-11kg, as well as improvements in blood sugar levels and other health markets.[5-7]
Taylor said: “What we have shown is that it is possible to reverse your diabetes, even if you have had the condition for a long time, up to around 10 years. If you have had the diagnosis for longer than that, then don’t give up hope – major improvement in blood sugar control is possible.”
The details of the trials leading the way for the NHS Low-Calorie Diet Programme can be found here:
Diabetes is a condition where blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are too high over a sustained period of time. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of all people living with diabetes in the UK, and is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin as they should.