Low-fat, high-carbohydrate (low-glycaemic index) diet induces weight loss and preserves lean body mass in obese healthy subjects: results of a 24-week study

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2005 May;7(3):290-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2004.00445.x.


Background: The traditional treatment for obesity which is based on a reduced caloric diet has only been partially successful. Contributing factors are not only a poor long-term dietary adherence but also a significant loss of lean body mass and subsequent reduction in energy expenditure. Both low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets and diets using low-glycaemic index (GI) foods are capable of inducing modest weight loss without specific caloric restriction. The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility and medium-term effect of a low-fat diet with high (low GI) carbohydrates on weight loss, body composition changes and dietary compliance.

Methods: Obese patients were recruited from two obesity outpatient clinics. Subjects were given advise by a dietician, then they attended biweekly for 1-hour group meetings. Bodyweight and body composition were measured at baseline and after 24 weeks.

Results: One hundred and nine (91%) patients completed the study; after 24 weeks the average weight loss was 8.9 kg (98.6 vs. 89.7 kg; p < or = 0.0001). There was a significant 15% decrease in fat mass (42.5 vs. 36.4 kg; p < or = 0.0001) and a decrease in lean body mass of 5% (56.1 vs. 53.3 kg; p < or = 0.0001).

Discussion: In this 6-month study, a low-fat, low-GI diet led to a significant reduction of fat mass; adherence to the diet was very good. Our results suggest that such a diet is feasible and should be evaluated in randomized controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Patient Compliance
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Weight Loss


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats