Three-Year Weight Change in Successful Weight Losers Who Lost Weight on a Low-Carbohydrate Diet


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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Brown Medical School, 196 Richmond Street, Providence, RI 02903. E-mail:


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate long-term weight loss and eating and exercise behaviors of successful weight losers who lost weight using a low-carbohydrate diet.

Research Methods and Procedures: This study examined 3-year changes in weight, diet, and physical activity in 891 subjects (96 low-carbohydrate dieters and 795 others) who enrolled in the National Weight Control Registry between 1998 and 2001 and reported ≥30-lb weight loss and ≥1 year weight loss maintenance.

Results: Only 10.8% of participants reported losing weight after a low-carbohydrate diet. At entry into the study, low-carbohydrate diet users reported consuming more kcal/d (mean ± SD, 1895 ± 452 vs. 1398 ± 574); fewer calories in weekly physical activity (1595 ± 2499 vs. 2542 ± 2301); more calories from fat (64.0 ± 7.9% vs. 30.9 ± 13.1%), saturated fat (23.8 ± 4.1 vs. 10.5 ± 5.2), monounsaturated fat (24.4 ± 3.7 vs. 11.0 ± 5.1), and polyunsaturated fat (8.6 ± 2.7 vs. 5.5 ± 2.9); and less dietary restraint (10.8 ± 2.9 vs. 14.9 ± 3.9) compared with other Registry members. These differences persisted over time. No differences in 3-year weight regain were observed between low-carbohydrate dieters and other Registry members in intent-to-treat analyses (7.0 ± 7.1 vs. 5.7 ± 8.7 kg).

Discussion: It is possible to achieve and maintain long-term weight loss using a low-carbohydrate diet. The long-term health effects of weight loss associated with a high-fat diet and low activity level merits further investigation.