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Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Sep;29 Suppl 2:S26-30.

The effect of low carbohydrate on energy metabolism.

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Section of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden.



To investigate whether low-carbohydrate diets are efficient for reduction of body weight and through which mechanism.


A couple of studies using low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of obesity are reviewed. Mechanisms for explaining the reduced appetite are described in relation to knowledge on regulation of appetite for fat and carbohydrate.


Studies with low-carbohydrate diets demonstrate a rapid weight loss, being more pronounced after 3 and 6 months compared to low-fat diets. After 12 months there is no difference between the low-carbohydrate and the conventional low-fat diet on weight loss. Both diets lead to improvements in risk factors for coronary heart disease, the low-carbohydrate diet leading to a greater decrease in serum triglycerides and increase in HDL cholesterol compared to the low-fat diet. Blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and LDL cholesterol were improved to a similar degree by the two diets. The mechanism for the rapid weight loss with the low-carbohydrate diet is a suppressed appetite, first through the high-protein content of the diet, second through the ketogenic nature of the diet with satiety signals for fat being active and third through the absence of hunger-promoting carbohydrate components like sucrose and/or fructose.


A rapid initial weight loss occurs with a low-carbohydrate diet due to a suppressed appetite. There is as yet no indication of an increased metabolic rate and an increased thermogenesis by the low-carbohydrate diet. The safety and efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets have to await further studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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