Effects of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets: A randomized trial

Lydia A. Bazzano, Tian Hu, Kristi Reynolds, Lu Yao, Calynn Bunol, Yanxi Liu, Chung Shiuan Chen, Michael J. Klag, Paul K. Whelton, Jiang He

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Abstract

Background: Low-carbohydrate diets are popular for weight loss, but their cardiovascular effects have not been well-studied, particularly in diverse populations. Objective: To examine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a low-fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors. Design: A randomized, parallel-group trial. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00609271) Setting: A large academic medical center. Participants: 148 men and women without clinical cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Intervention: A low-carbohydrate (<40 g/d) or low-fat (<30% of daily energy intake from total fat [<7% saturated fat]) diet. Both groups received dietary counseling at regular intervals throughout the trial. Measurements: Data on weight, cardiovascular risk factors, and dietary composition were collected at 0, 3, 6, and 12 months. Results: Sixty participants (82%) in the low-fat group and 59 (79%) in the low-carbohydrate group completed the intervention. At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had greater decreases in weight (mean difference in change, -3.5 kg [95% CI, -5.6 to -1.4 kg]; P = 0.002), fat mass (mean difference in change, -1.5% [CI, -2.6% to -0.4%]; P = 0.011), ratio of total-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (mean difference in change, -0.44 [CI, -0.71 to -0.16]; P = 0.002), and triglyceride level (mean difference in change, -0.16 mmol/L [-14.1 mg/dL] [CI, -0.31 to -0.01 mmol/L {-27.4 to -0.8 mg/dL}]; P = 0.038) and greater increases in HDL cholesterol level (mean difference in change, 0.18 mmol/L [7.0 mg/dL] [CI, 0.08 to 0.28 mmol/L {3.0 to 11.0 mg/dL}]; P < 0.001) than those on the low-fat diet. Limitation: Lack of clinical cardiovascular disease end points. Conclusion: The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-318
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Volume161
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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    Bazzano, L. A., Hu, T., Reynolds, K., Yao, L., Bunol, C., Liu, Y., Chen, C. S., Klag, M. J., Whelton, P. K., & He, J. (2014). Effects of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets: A randomized trial. Annals of internal medicine, 161(5), 309-318. https://doi.org/10.7326/M14-0180