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Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2003 Sep;1(3):227-32. doi: 10.1089/154041903322716705.

Clinical use of a carbohydrate-restricted diet to treat the dyslipidemia of the metabolic syndrome.



The metabolic syndrome is characterized by an atherogenic dyslipidemia identifiable using lipoprotein subclass analysis. This study assesses the effect of a carbohydrate-restricted diet on the dyslipidemia of the metabolic syndrome in a clinical setting.


This is a retrospective chart review of patients attending a preventive medicine clinic using lipoprotein subclass analysis (by NMR spectroscopy) to identify the atherogenic dyslipidemia. If present, patients were counseled to begin a carbohydrate-restricted diet (< 20 g/day). Patients already on statin therapy were included only if the medication dose was not changed. The outcomes were changes in body weight, fasting serum lipid profiles and serum lipoprotein subclasses.


Of 122 patients identified, 80 patients had complete pre- and post-treatment data. The mean (+/-SD) age was 66 +/- 9 years, baseline weight was 85 +/- 12 kg, BMI was 28.1 +/- 3.6, 73% were male, 99% were Caucasian. Sixty-five percent were taking statin medication. Carbohydrate-restriction led to a 13% reduction in total cholesterol, 16% reduction in LDL cholesterol, 38% reduction in triglycerides, and a 13% increase in HDL cholesterol (all p values < 0.001). Carbohydrate-restriction also led to a reduction in LDL particle concentration of 28%, a reduction in small LDL of 82%, a reduction of large VLDL of 62%, and an increase in large HDL of 30% (all p values < 0.001).


A carbohydrate-restricted diet recommendation led to improvements in lipid profiles and lipoprotein subclass traits of the metabolic syndrome in a clinical outpatient setting, and should be considered as a treatment for the metabolic syndrome.

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