The purpose of the study is to compare the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet and a conventional (fat- and calorie-restricted) diet on lipoprotein subfractions and inflammation in severely obese subjects.
We compared changes in lipoprotein subfractions and C-reactive protein levels in 78 severely obese subjects, including 86% with either diabetes or metabolic syndrome, who were randomly assigned to either a low-carbohydrate or conventional diet for 6 months.
Subjects on a low-carbohydrate diet experienced a greater decrease in large very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) levels (difference = -0.26 mg/dL, P = 0.03) but more frequently developed detectable chylomicrons (44% vs. 22%, P = 0.04). Both diet groups experienced similar decreases in the number of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles (difference = -30 nmol/L, P = 0.74) and increases in large high-density lipoprotein (HDL) concentrations (difference = 0.70 mg/dL, P = 0.63). Overall, C-reactive protein levels decreased modestly in both diet groups. However, patients with a high-risk baseline level (>3 mg/dL, n = 48) experienced a greater decrease in C-reactive protein levels on a low-carbohydrate diet (adjusted difference = -2.0 mg/dL, P = 0.005), independent of weight loss.
In this 6-month study involving severely obese subjects, we found an overall favorable effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on lipoprotein subfractions, and on inflammation in high-risk subjects. Both diets had similar effects on LDL and HDL subfractions.