Medical research related to low-carbohydrate diets
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Low-carbohydrate diet. (Discuss) Proposed since August 2014.|
Low-carbohydrate diets became a major weight loss and health maintenance trend during the late 1990s and early 2000s. While their popularity has waned recently from its peak, they remain popular. This diet trend has stirred major controversies in the medical and nutritional sciences communities and, as yet, there is not a general consensus on their efficacy or safety. Many in the medical community remain generally opposed to these diets for long term health although there has been a recent softening of this opposition by some organizations.
Because of the substantial controversy regarding low-carbohydrate diets, and even disagreements in interpreting the results of specific studies, it is difficult to objectively summarize the research in a way that reflects scientific consensus.
Although there has been some research done throughout the twentieth century, most directly relevant scientific studies have occurred in the 1990s and early 2000s and, as such, are relatively new and the results are still debated in the medical community. Supporters and opponents of low-carbohydrate diets frequently cite many articles (sometimes the same articles) as supporting their positions. One of the fundamental criticisms of those who advocate the low-carbohydrate diets has been the lack of long-term studies evaluating their health risks. This has begun to change as longer term studies are emerging.
A 2012 systematic review studying the effects of low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors showed the LCD to be associated with significant decreases in body weight, body mass index, abdominal circumference, blood pressure, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, blood insulin and plasma C-reactive protein, as well as an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and creatinine did not change significantly. The study found the LCD was shown to have favorable effects on body weight and major cardiovascular risk factors (but concluded the effects on long-term health are unknown). The study did not compare health benefits of LCD to low-fat diets.
A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013 compared low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, vegan, vegetarian, low-glycemic index, high-fiber, and high-protein diets with control diets. The researchers concluded that low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, low-glycemic index, and high-protein diets are effective in improving markers of risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
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