Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on pain and quality of life in female patients with lipedema: a randomized controlled trial

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2024 Jun;32(6):1071-1082. doi: 10.1002/oby.24026. Epub 2024 Apr 16.


Objective: The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) compared with a control diet on pain in female patients with lipedema. The secondary objectives were to compare the impact of the two diets on quality of life (QoL) and investigate potential associations of changes in pain with changes in body weight, body composition, and ketosis.

Methods: Adult female patients with lipedema and obesity were randomized to either the LCD or control diet (energy prescription: 1200 kcal/day) for 8 weeks. Body weight and body composition, pain (Brief Pain Inventory measured pain), and QoL (RAND 36-Item Health Survey [RAND-36], Impact of Weight on Quality of Life [IWQOL]-Lite, and Lymphoedema Quality of Life [LYMQOL]) were measured at baseline and at postintervention.

Results: A total of 70 female patients (age, mean [SD], 47 [11] years; BMI 37 [5] kg/m2) were included. The LCD group had greater weight loss (-2.8 kg; 95% CI: -4.1 to -1.0; p < 0.001) and larger reduction in pain now (-1.1; 95% CI: -1.9 to -0.3; p = 0.009) compared with the control group. No association was found between changes in pain now and weight loss. Both groups experienced improvements in several QoL dimensions.

Conclusions: Diet-induced weight loss in women with lipedema can improve QoL. An energy-restricted LCD seems to be superior to a standard control diet in reducing pain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ketosis
  • Lipedema* / diet therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity* / complications
  • Obesity* / diet therapy
  • Obesity* / psychology
  • Pain* / diet therapy
  • Pain* / etiology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*