Recent evidence suggests that a low carbohydrate (LC) diet may be equally or more effective for short-term weight loss than a traditional low fat (LF) diet; however, less is known about how they compare for weight maintenance. The purpose of this study was to compare body weight (BW) for participants in a clinical weight management program, consuming a LC or LF weight maintenance diet for 6 months following weight loss.
Fifty-five (29 low carbohydrate diet; 26 low fat diet) overweight/obese middle-aged adults completed a 9 month weight management program that included instruction for behavior, physical activity (PA), and nutrition. For 3 months all participants consumed an identical liquid diet (2177 kJ/day) followed by 1 month of re-feeding with solid foods either low in carbohydrate or low in fat. For the remaining 5 months, participants were prescribed a meal plan low in dietary carbohydrate (~20%) or fat (~30%). BW and carbohydrate or fat grams were collected at each group meeting. Energy and macronutrient intake were assessed at baseline, 3, 6, and 9 months.
The LC group increased BW from 89.2 +/- 14.4 kg at 3 months to 89.3 +/- 16.1 kg at 9 months (P = 0.84). The LF group decreased BW from 86.3 +/- 12.0 kg at 3 months to 86.0 +/- 14.0 kg at 9 months (P = 0.96). BW was not different between groups during weight maintenance (P = 0.87). Fifty-five percent (16/29) and 50% (13/26) of participants for the LC and LF groups, respectively, continued to decrease their body weight during weight maintenance.
Following a 3 month liquid diet, the LC and LF diet groups were equally effective for BW maintenance over 6 months; however, there was significant variation in weight change within each group.
LeCheminant, James D, Cheryl A. Gibson, Debra K. Sullivan, Sandra Hall, Rik Washburn, Mary C. Vernon, Chelsea Curry, Elizabeth Stewart, Eric C. Westman, Joseph E. Donnelly. 2007. “Comparison of a low carbohydrate and low fat diet for weight maintenance in overweight or obese adults enrolled in a clinical weight management program.” Nutrition Journal 6:36. PMID: