Overweight and diabetes prevention: is a low-carbohydrate-high-fat diet recommendable?

Eur J Nutr. 2018 Jun;57(4):1301-1312. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1636-y. Epub 2018 Mar 14.


In the past, different types of diet with a generally low-carbohydrate content (< 50-< 20 g/day) have been promoted, for weight loss and diabetes, and the effectiveness of a very low dietary carbohydrate content has always been a matter of debate. A significant reduction in the amount of carbohydrates in the diet is usually accompanied by an increase in the amount of fat and to a lesser extent, also protein. Accordingly, using the term "low carb-high fat" (LCHF) diet is most appropriate. Low/very low intakes of carbohydrate food sources may impact on overall diet quality and long-term effects of such drastic diet changes remain at present unknown. This narrative review highlights recent metabolic and clinical outcomes of studies as well as practical feasibility of low LCHF diets. A few relevant observations are as follows: (1) any diet type resulting in reduced energy intake will result in weight loss and related favorable metabolic and functional changes; (2) short-term LCHF studies show both favorable and less desirable effects; (3) sustained adherence to a ketogenic LCHF diet appears to be difficult. A non-ketogenic diet supplying 100-150 g carbohydrate/day, under good control, may be more practical. (4) There is lack of data supporting long-term efficacy, safety and health benefits of LCHF diets. Any recommendation should be judged in this light. (5) Lifestyle intervention in people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while maintaining a relative carbohydrate-rich diet, results in long-term prevention of progression to type 2 diabetes and is generally seen as safe.

Keywords: High-fat diet; Ketogenic diet; Low-carbohydrate diet; Obesity.; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted*
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats
  • Humans
  • Obesity
  • Overweight / physiopathology*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats