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Review

The Effect of Low-Fat and Low-Carbohydrate Diets on Weight Loss and Lipid Levels: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

1
Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London, London WC2R 2LS, UK
2
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo 01246-903, BR, Brazil
3
School of Pharmacy, MCPHS University, Boston, MA 02120, USA
4
Nutrition Department, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02120, USA
5
HOOKE London, 11-15 Farm Street, London W1J 5RG, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Nutrients 2020, 12(12), 3774; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123774
Received: 28 October 2020 / Revised: 25 November 2020 / Accepted: 3 December 2020 / Published: 9 December 2020
Background: The rise in obesity has emphasised a focus on lifestyle and dietary habits. We aimed to address the debate between low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets and compare their effects on body weight, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), total cholesterol, and triglycerides in an adult population. Method: Medline and Web of Science were searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets up to September 2019. Three independent reviewers extracted data. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane tool. The meta-analysis was stratified by follow-up time using the random-effects models. Results: This meta-analysis of 38 studies assessed a total of 6499 adults. At 6–12 months, pooled analyses of mean differences of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat diets favoured the low-carbohydrate diet for average weight change (mean difference −1.30 kg; 95% CI −2.02 to −0.57), HDL (0.05 mmol/L; 95% CI 0.03 to 0.08), and triglycerides (TG) (−0.10 mmol/L; −0.16 to −0.04), and favoured the low-fat diet for LDL (0.07 mmol/L; 95% CI 0.02 to 0.12) and total cholesterol (0.10 mmol/L; 95% CI 0.02 to 0.18). Conclusion and Relevance: This meta-analysis suggests that low-carbohydrate diets are effective at improving weight loss, HDL and TG lipid profiles. However, this must be balanced with potential consequences of raised LDL and total cholesterol in the long-term. View Full-Text
Keywords: low carbohydrate diet; low fat diet; cardiovascular outcomes; weight loss; lipid panel; cholesterol; preventative medicine; cardiology; nutrition low carbohydrate diet; low fat diet; cardiovascular outcomes; weight loss; lipid panel; cholesterol; preventative medicine; cardiology; nutrition
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chawla, S.; Tessarolo Silva, F.; Amaral Medeiros, S.; Mekary, R.A.; Radenkovic, D. The Effect of Low-Fat and Low-Carbohydrate Diets on Weight Loss and Lipid Levels: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients 2020, 12, 3774. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123774

AMA Style

Chawla S, Tessarolo Silva F, Amaral Medeiros S, Mekary RA, Radenkovic D. The Effect of Low-Fat and Low-Carbohydrate Diets on Weight Loss and Lipid Levels: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2020; 12(12):3774. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123774

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chawla, Shreya, Fernanda Tessarolo Silva, Sofia Amaral Medeiros, Rania A. Mekary, and Dina Radenkovic. 2020. "The Effect of Low-Fat and Low-Carbohydrate Diets on Weight Loss and Lipid Levels: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis" Nutrients 12, no. 12: 3774. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123774

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