The Skinny on High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diets


Wendy Cunningham, PhD, RD, ETT, California State University, Family & Consumer Sciences Department, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819-6053 E-mail:


Short-term studies of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets have shown weight loss and improvements in plasma lipid profiles. Studies of greater than 6 months' duration, however, have failed to show continued benefit of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors compared with conventional diets. Without concurrent weight loss and caloric restriction, these diets offer no additional benefit to lipids or body weight over other weight-loss regimens. In fact, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets may add additional risk to individuals with cardiovascular disease due to their high fat and cholesterol content combined with decreased intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutrients related to cardiovascular risk. In addition, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets have been implicated in other risks, including impaired renal, bone, and gastrointestinal health.