This week a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the role of lowering cardiovascular risk markers in the blood by either a low carbohydrate diet or a low fat diet. It looked at a group of obese patients (BMI > 30) who did not have any known cardiovascular disease and placed them on either a low carbohydrate diet (less than 40% of their calories from carbohydrates ) or a low fat diet (< 7% saturated fat ). The study was done for 12 months.
The study found that those enrolled in the low carbohydrate diet lost more weight, had lower fat mass, had lower LDL, higher HDL and lower triglycerides than their low fat diet counterparts. The physical activities in the two groups were the same so the changes were attributed to their diets.
The study is promising for options for weight loss and lowering cardiovascular risk but it has its limitations. Most people gain weight back after a year so the follow up for these groups are needed to find out if they had sustained benefit. Also, the reductions in the variables need to monitor for actual reduction in coronary artery disease.
Patients may have new options for weight reduction but still need to have risk factors monitored with their providers to observe benefits and changes well past the cessation of the diet. Lifestyle modifications which result in long term food plans tend to have sustained benefits.