Low-Fat Diet Better Than Low-Carb Diet in Long Run


Diet has been given the status of a four-letter word, but in truth is simply defines what you eat. As it turns out, the balance of what you eat – your diet – is important. A new study suggests that for in the long run a low-fat diet is better than a low-carb diet for maintaining a health weight.

Marion L. Vetter, MD, RD and colleagues have published their findings in the March 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Low-carb dieters lost weight quicker, but were more likely to regain it. Low-fat dieters were more likely to maintain their weight loss.

The researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial of 132 obese patients (mean BMI of 43, mean weight of 288 pounds) who were then placed on either a low-carbohydrate diet or a calorie-restricted, low-fat diet. About 39 percent had diabetes and 43 percent had metabolic syndrome.


The low-carbohydrate diet was defined as less than 30 gm/day of carbohydrates with no calorie restriction (similar to the Atkins diet). The calorie-restricted, low-fat diet was defined as a deficit of 500 kcal/day with less than 30% kcal from fat.

Patients in the study met once a month with a nutritionist for a year. They received no additional support after the first year. The low-carb diet group experienced the greatest weigh loss at the six month mark, but at 12 months there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups.

After three years, neither group showed a statistically significant difference in their ability to keep the weight off. The good news for those in the low-fat group, however, was that they continued to show slow and steady weight loss, while the low-carb dieters were trending back up.

My recommendation to you would be -- for long term health weight, find a healthy diet of moderate calorie consumption. Try to make it heavy in fruits and vegetables, low in fat and salt. Don’t forget to be active.

Long-Term Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Versus Low-Fat Diets in Obese Persons; Ann Intern Med March 2, 2010 152:334-335; Vetter ML, Iqbal N, Dalton-Bakes C, Volger S, Wadden TA