The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet (Low Fat) vs A Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat (Low Carb)

Details: 60 overweight individuals were randomized to a low-carb diet high in monounsaturated fat, or a low-fat diet based on the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP).

Both groups were calorie restricted and the study went on for 12 weeks.

Weight Loss: The low-carb group lost an average of 6.2 kg (13.6 lbs), while the low-fat group lost 3.4 kg (7.5 lbs). The difference was statistically significant.

Conclusion: The low-carb group lost 1.8 times as much weight. There were also several changes in biomarkers that are worth noting:

  • Waist-to-hip ratio is a marker for abdominal fat. This marker improved slightly in the LC group, not in the LF group.
  • Total cholesterol improved in both groups.
  • Triglycerides went down by 42 mg/dL in the LC group, compared to 15.3 mg/dL in the LF group.
  • LDL particle size increased by 4.8 nm and percentage of small, dense LDL decreased by 6.1% in the LC group, while there was no significant difference in the LF group.

Overall, the low-carb group lost more weight and had much greater improvements in several important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003.