Low Carb Diet Results In More Weight Loss, Better Lipid Control Than Low Fat Diet

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tian Hu, MD, MS Research Fellow
​Department of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
New Orleans, LA 70112

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Hu: Participants on the low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight than those on the low-fat diet at 3, 6, and 12 months. At 12 months, those in the low-carbohydrate group lost an average of almost 8 pounds more than those in the low-fat group.

Participants on the low-carbohydrate diet lost more fat mass and did not lose lean mass (muscle) compared to those on the low-fat diet.

Overall, bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) that is a predictor of risk for cardiovascular disease decreased on both diets, but good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) increased more in the low-carbohydrate group.

Physical activity was similar in the groups throughout the study, suggesting that the greater weight loss among participants in the low-carbohydrate group was not because they exercised more.

When we evaluated the black and white participants separately, the results were similar.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Hu: Low-fat diets have been recommended for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction for a long time while low-carbohydrate diets are often not recommended because of the thought that increases in saturated fat would worsen heart disease risk factors. However, in our trial participants on the low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight and lowered their heart disease risk factors more than those on the low fat diet.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Hu: A low-carbohydrate diet could be a good option for people who want to lose weight and reduce their heart disease risk factors.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Hu: Future studies could follow participants for longer periods of time and also investigate possible mechanisms for the effects of low-carbohydrate diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction.


Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets A Randomized Trial

Bazzano LA, Hu T, Reynolds K, Yao L, Bunol C, Liu Y, et al. Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161:309-318. doi:10.7326/M14-0180