Effects of moderate-fat (from monounsaturated fat) and low-fat weight-loss diets on the serum lipid profile in overweight and obese men and women

Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Feb;79(2):204-12. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/79.2.204.


Background: Little evidence of the effects of moderate-fat (from monounsaturated fat) weight-loss diets on risk factors for cardiovascular disease exists because low-fat diets are typically recommended. Previous studies in weight-stable persons showed that a moderate-fat diet results in a more favorable lipid and lipoprotein profile (ie, lower serum triacylglycerol and higher HDL cholesterol) than does a low-fat diet.

Objective: We evaluated the effects of energy-controlled, low-fat and moderate-fat diets on changes in lipids and lipoproteins during weight loss and subsequent weight maintenance.

Design: We conducted a parallel-arm study design in overweight and obese [body mass index (in kg/m(2)): 29.8 +/- 2.4] healthy men and women (n = 53) assigned to consume a low-fat (18% of energy) or moderate-fat (33% of energy) diet for 6 wk to achieve weight loss, which was followed by 4 wk of weight maintenance. All foods were provided and body weight was monitored to ensure equal weight loss between groups.

Results: The moderate-fat diet elicited favorable changes in the lipoprotein profile. Compared with baseline, HDL cholesterol was unchanged, whereas triacylglycerol and the ratios of total and non-HDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol were lower at the end of the weight-maintenance period in the moderate-fat diet group. Despite similar weight loss, triacylglycerol rebounded, HDL cholesterol decreased, and the ratios of total and non-HDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol did not change during the 10-wk interval in the low-fat diet group.

Conclusions: A moderate-fat weight-loss and weight-maintenance diet improves the cardiovascular disease risk profile on the basis of favorable changes in lipids and lipoproteins. There is merit in recommending a moderate-fat weight-loss diet.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Weight Loss


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol