Low-Fat Diets Beat Low-Carb Regimen Long Term

Low-fat diets may trump low-carb diets when it comes to keeping off the weight for good, a new study suggests.

A low-carb diet may offer quick results, but a new study suggests that a low-fat diet may be best for long-term weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.

The study, which appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found obese people who adhere to a low-fat diet may be more likely to keep off the weight three years later after starting the diet than those who followed a low-carbohydrate diet.

The participants in the study were all severely obese, and had an average body mass index of 43. The average weight of the participants was 288 pounds. About 39 percent had diabetes and 43 percent had metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that can be a precursor to coronary artery disease and diabetes.

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Participants in the study were instructed to follow either a low-fat diet, in which they cut around 500 calories a day and consumed no more than 30 percent of their allotted calories from fat, or to follow diet that closely matched the low-carb Atkins diet. Those participating in the low-carb option were not told to cut calories, but were instead told to limit their carb intake to no more than 30 grams a day, which equals about two slices of bread.

After six months on the diets, the group on the low-carb diet experienced the greatest weight loss, but by 12 months there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups.

Three years after the study began and two years after the diets ended, researchers followed up with the people in both groups. Neither group showed a significant difference in their ability to keep the weight off; however, those following the low fat diet continued to show gradual weight loss, while the low carb dieter’s weight was gradually increasing.

Lead study author Dr. Marion Vetter noted that it is very hard for people to sustain a low-carb diet, and that low-fat diets may be a little easier for people to stick with.

2 Responses

  1. Paul Bowers

    These “results” tell us absolutely nothing about the efficacy of low-fat or low-carb diets since the participants haven’t been on these diets for 2.5 years. Stupid!

  2. Paul Bowers

    By the way, how do we know that any of the participants stuck to either of the diets? I’m sure none of them did, since they all have gained weight.

    The article notes that the diets were for a specific period, after which the participants resumed their normal eating habits. – Editor


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