For Weight Loss, Any Low-Carb, Low-Fat Diet May Work

(HealthDay News) — For overweight and obese adults, significant weight loss is achieved with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet, with minimal between-diet differences, according to a review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bradley C. Johnson, PhD, from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine weight loss outcomes for popular diets based on diet class and named diet. Data were included from 48 unique randomized trials, including 7,286 overweight or obese adults, which compared popular self-administered named diet vs. no diet.

The researchers found that the largest weight loss was associated with low-carbohydrate diets (8.73 kg at 6-month follow-up; 7.25 kg at 12-month follow-up) and low-fat diets (7.99 kg at 6-month follow-up; 7.27 kg at 12-month follow-up) compared with no diet. 

Minimal differences were seen in weight loss between individual diets; for example, at 6 months, the Atkins diet resulted in 1.71 kg greater weight loss than the Zone diet. The influence of behavioral support and exercise on weight loss differed between 6- and 12-month follow-up.

“Significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low fat diet. Weight loss differences between individual named diets were small,” the researchers wrote. “This supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight.”


  1. Johnston BC et al. JAMA. 2014;312(9):923-933.