Americans spend dollar 33 billion annually on weight loss products and services, and a large portion of this money is spent on low-carbohydrate diets. Because of their higher protein and fat content and lower fiber and carbohydrate content, concerns have been raised about the potential health consequences of low-carbohydrate diets. Published long-term data are lacking. Short-term studies comparing traditional low-fat diets with low-carbohydrate diets found lower triglyceride levels, higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, similar low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and lower A1C levels in persons on low-carbohydrate diets. These diets induce greater weight loss at three and six months than traditional low-fat diets; however, by one year there is no significant difference in maintained weight loss. Weight loss is directly related to calorie content and the ability to maintain caloric restriction; the proportions of nutrients in the diet are irrelevant. Low-carbohydrate diets had lower dropout rates than low-fat diets in several studies, possibly because of the high protein content and low glycemic index, which can be appetite suppressing. Data indicate that low-carbohydrate diets are a safe, reasonable alternative to low-fat diets for weight loss. Additional studies are needed to investigate the long-term safety and effectiveness of these and other approaches to weight loss.