Low Carb Best for Weight Loss in Yet Another New Meta Analysis

What diet should you choose to lose weight? Low carb or low fat?

Another new review of all the best studies – over six months or longer – shows the same result as earlier trials: Low carb results in more weight loss.

British Journal of Nutrition: Effects of low-carbohydrate diets v. low-fat diets on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

When it comes to cholesterol low carb performs better in two measurements and worse in one. Low-carb diets result on average in slightly higher LDL cholesterol but a better profile with more beneficial HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides (also good). Again, no surprises.

An extra 5 pounds – or more

Regarding weight loss some people will argue that the extra 2.2 kilos (about 5 pounds) lost on low carb is not that great an advantage. But remember that this is the average of every person in long randomized trials (6 months+) where very many people, regardless of diet, soon return to old habits. This is just human nature. For example, not many people manage to give up smoking on the first attempt.

In other words, the extra 5 pounds lost on low carb is the average for people following, or not following, a low-carb diet. Presumably the people actually doing the diet during the full trials did way better on average.

Also remember that people can and do lose weight on a low-fat, low-calorie diet too. It’s just harder and takes more effort and willpower. The likely underestimated 5 pounds is on top of the weight loss of the low fat diet groups.

Bottom line: According to all high-quality studies people on average lose more weight on low carb, even when not counting calories or trying to restrict food intake. Pretty fantastic.

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The Science of Low Carb

2 comments

  1. Jeroen
    I showed my doctor my lipid numbers which I'd done somewhere else. I pointed out my higher LDL and he responded by saying "we don't look at that number individually any more, we look at the total profile which was a high HDL and low triglycerides after being on a LCHF diet for some months... That did surprise me.
  2. chris c
    Sounds like a good doctor!

    One factor in LDL increase may be that it goes up while actively losing weight and may drop back again later. I found that tinkering with the balance on my fats caused HDL to increase and LDL to decrease by about the same amount.

    I also found that going hypERthyroid knocked down my LDL by exactly as much as a statin, but I don't recommend that!

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