A US expert includes a low-carbohydrate diet (with “healthy” fats and proteins as well as regular exercise) among the methods that doctors can encourage their overweight patients to experiment with for weight control.1 Dr Walter Willett was commenting on recent randomised controlled trials that have studied such diets. One study, by Yancy and colleagues, had found that, compared with a low-fat diet, a six-month low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet program led to greater weight loss (9.4 kg v 4.8 kg) and had better participant retention (76% v 57%).2 In the low-carbohydrate diet group, fat made up an average of two-thirds of the daily energy intake. Interestingly, the low-carbohydrate dieters seemed to voluntarily reduce their energy intake. Further, on average, their blood lipid levels were not “harmed”, as has been feared with such diets; however, the researchers advised that it would be prudent to monitor the serum lipid profiles of followers of low-carbohydrate diets. Willett pointed out that individual responses to a low-carbohydrate diet may vary widely — in this study, weight loss ranged from 0 to more than 20 kg.
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