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Low Carbohydrate Diets: The Facts

by Dr David Ashton, Medical Director, Healthier Weight

Summary - Low-Carbohydrate Diets 

Low-carbohydrate (low carb) diets have been very popular, but what does the scientific evidence say about them? 

Here are the facts:

 Low-carb diets do not result in greater long-term weight loss than more conventional calorie-restricted diets
 Whilst initial weight-loss is greater with low-carb diets, this is due to loss of water, glycogen and muscle mass, not fat
 Low-carb diets may result in greater loss of lean (muscle) mass than standard diets
 Low-carb diets do not result in better weight maintenance than other low-calorie  diets
 Low-carb diets may increase the risk of various cancers, especially bowel cancer
 Low-carb diets may increase the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis
 Low-carb diets have a beneficial impact on some heart disease risk factors, but a negative effect on others. The long term implications for heart health are unknown.
 The long-term safety of low-carb diets has not been established


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