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Low-Carb

Our evidence-based analysis on low-carb features 40 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel .
Reviewed by
Examine.com Team
Last Updated:

Frequently Asked Questions about Low-Carb

Low-fat vs. low-carb? Major study concludes: it doesn’t matter for weight loss
A year-long randomized clinical trial (DIETFITS) has found that a low-fat diet and a low-carb diet produced similar weight loss and improvements in metabolic health markers. Furthermore, insulin production and tested genes had no impact on predicting weight loss success or failure. Thus, evidence to date indicates you should choose your diet based on personal preferences, health goals, and sustainability.
Are there health benefits to a low carb diet?
Does eating fat make you fat?
If you ingest more calories than you burn, it may be worse for your waist if those calories come from fat. If you ingest fewer calories than you burn, however, it doesn’t seem to matter much whether those calories come mostly from fat or mostly from carbs.

References

  1. Gardner CD, et al. Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: The DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. (2018)
  2. Gardner CD, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA. (2007)
  3. Sacks FM, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. (2009)
  4. Pittas AG, et al. A low-glycemic load diet facilitates greater weight loss in overweight adults with high insulin secretion but not in overweight adults with low insulin secretion in the CALERIE Trial. Diabetes Care. (2005)
  5. Qi Q, et al. Insulin receptor substrate 1 gene variation modifies insulin resistance response to weight-loss diets in a 2-year randomized trial: the Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies (POUNDS LOST) trial. Circulation. (2011)
  6. Westman EC, et al. Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. (2007)
  7. Hall KD, Guo J. Obesity Energetics: Body Weight Regulation and the Effects of Diet Composition. Gastroenterology. (2017)
  8. Johnston BC, et al. Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: a meta-analysis. JAMA. (2014)
  9. Bueno NB, et al. Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. (2013)
  10. McClain AD, et al. Adherence to a low-fat vs. low-carbohydrate diet differs by insulin resistance status. Diabetes Obes Metab. (2013)
  11. Cornier MA, et al. Insulin sensitivity determines the effectiveness of dietary macronutrient composition on weight loss in obese women. Obes Res. (2005)
  12. Jensen MD, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS guideline for the management of overweight and obesity in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. Circulation. (2014)
  13. Golay A, et al. Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. (1996)
  14. Golay A, et al. Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1996)
  15. Parker B, et al. Effect of a high-protein, high-monounsaturated fat weight loss diet on glycemic control and lipid levels in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. (2002)
  16. Noakes M, et al. Effect of an energy-restricted, high-protein, low-fat diet relative to a conventional high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet on weight loss, body composition, nutritional status, and markers of cardiovascular health in obese women. Am J Clin Nutr. (2005)
  17. Keogh JB, et al. Long-term weight maintenance and cardiovascular risk factors are not different following weight loss on carbohydrate-restricted diets high in either monounsaturated fat or protein in obese hyperinsulinaemic men and women. Br J Nutr. (2007)
  18. Farnsworth E, et al. Effect of a high-protein, energy-restricted diet on body composition, glycemic control, and lipid concentrations in overweight and obese hyperinsulinemic men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. (2003)
  19. McLaughlin T, et al. Effects of moderate variations in macronutrient composition on weight loss and reduction in cardiovascular disease risk in obese, insulin-resistant adults. Am J Clin Nutr. (2006)
  20. Boden G, et al. Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Ann Intern Med. (2005)
  21. Brooking LA, Williams SM, Mann JI. Effects of macronutrient composition of the diet on body fat in indigenous people at high risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. (2012)
  22. Mojtahedi MC, et al. The effects of a higher protein intake during energy restriction on changes in body composition and physical function in older women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. (2011)
  23. Tappy L. Thermic effect of food and sympathetic nervous system activity in humans. Reprod Nutr Dev. (1996)
  24. Horton TJ, et al. Fat and carbohydrate overfeeding in humans: different effects on energy storage. Am J Clin Nutr. (1995)
  25. Hellerstein MK. No common energy currency: de novo lipogenesis as the road less traveled. Am J Clin Nutr. (2001)
  26. Acheson KJ, et al. Glycogen storage capacity and de novo lipogenesis during massive carbohydrate overfeeding in man. Am J Clin Nutr. (1988)
  27. Acheson KJ, Flatt JP, Jéquier E. Glycogen synthesis versus lipogenesis after a 500 gram carbohydrate meal in man. Metabolism. (1982)
  28. Galgani J, Ravussin E. Energy metabolism, fuel selection and body weight regulation. Int J Obes (Lond). (2008)
  29. Schutz Y, Flatt JP, Jéquier E. Failure of dietary fat intake to promote fat oxidation: a factor favoring the development of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. (1989)
  30. Flatt JP, et al. Effects of dietary fat on postprandial substrate oxidation and on carbohydrate and fat balances. J Clin Invest. (1985)
  31. Abbott WG, et al. Short-term energy balance: relationship with protein, carbohydrate, and fat balances. Am J Physiol. (1988)
  32. Rising R, et al. Food intake measured by an automated food-selection system: relationship to energy expenditure. Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
  33. Frayn KN. Physiological regulation of macronutrient balance. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1995)
  34. Carreiro AL, et al. The Macronutrients, Appetite, and Energy Intake. Annu Rev Nutr. (2016)
  35. Rolls BJ. The role of energy density in the overconsumption of fat. J Nutr. (2000)
  36. Blundell JE, MacDiarmid JI. Fat as a risk factor for overconsumption: satiation, satiety, and patterns of eating. J Am Diet Assoc. (1997)
  37. Hall KD, et al. Calorie for Calorie, Dietary Fat Restriction Results in More Body Fat Loss than Carbohydrate Restriction in People with Obesity. Cell Metab. (2015)
  38. Bazzano LA, et al. Effects of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. (2014)
  39. Sackner-Bernstein J, Kanter D, Kaul S. Dietary Intervention for Overweight and Obese Adults: Comparison of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets. A Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. (2015)
  40. Foster-Schubert KE, et al. Effect of diet and exercise, alone or combined, on weight and body composition in overweight-to-obese postmenopausal women. Obesity (Silver Spring). (2012)