Metabolic Effects of Weight Loss on a Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diet Compared With an Isocaloric High-Carbohydrate Diet in Abdominally Obese Subjects

Jeannie Tay, Grant D. Brinkworth, Manny Noakes, Jennifer Keogh, Peter M. Clifton

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Objectives: This study was designed to compare the effects of an energy-reduced, isocaloric very-low-carbohydrate, high-fat (VLCHF) diet and a high-carbohydrate, low-fat (HCLF) diet on weight loss and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk outcomes. Background: Despite the popularity of the VLCHF diet, no studies have compared the chronic effects of weight loss and metabolic change to a conventional HCLF diet under isocaloric conditions. Methods: A total of 88 abdominally obese adults were randomly assigned to either an energy-restricted (∼6 to 7 MJ, 30% deficit), planned isocaloric VLCHF or HCLF diet for 24 weeks in an outpatient clinical trial. Body weight, blood pressure, fasting glucose, lipids, insulin, apolipoprotein B (apoB), and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured at weeks 0 and 24. Results: Weight loss was similar in both groups (VLCHF -11.9 ± 6.3 kg, HCLF -10.1 ± 5.7 kg; p = 0.17). Blood pressure, CRP, fasting glucose, and insulin reduced similarly with weight loss in both diets. The VLCHF diet produced greater decreases in triacylglycerols (VLCHF -0.64 ± 0.62 mmol/l, HCLF -0.35 ± 0.49 mmol/l; p = 0.01) and increases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (VLCHF 0.25 ± 0.28 mmol/l, HCLF 0.08 ± 0.17 mmol/l; p = 0.002). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) decreased in the HCLF diet but remained unchanged in the VLCHF diet (VLCHF 0.06 ± 0.58 mmol/l, HCLF -0.46 ± 0.71 mmol/l; p < 0.001). However, a high degree of individual variability for the LDL response in the VLCHF diet was observed, with 24% of individuals reporting an increase of at least 10%. The apoB levels remained unchanged in both diet groups. Conclusions: Under isocaloric conditions, VLCHF and HCLF diets result in similar weight loss. Overall, although both diets had similar improvements for a number of metabolic risk markers, an HCLF diet had more favorable effects on the blood lipid profile. This suggests that the potential long-term effects of the VLCHF diet for CVD risk remain a concern and that blood lipid levels should be monitored. (Long-term health effects of high and low carbohydrate, weight loss diets in obese subjects with the metabolic syndrome;; ACTR No. 12606000203550).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jan 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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