The aim of this study was to evaluate short-term effects of a low-carbohydrate diet in overweight and obese subjects with low HDL-C levels.
Overweight (BMI between 25-30 kg/m2) or obese (BMI over 30 kg/m2) subjects with low HDL-C levels (men with HDL-C <1.03, women <1.29 mmol/l) were invited to the study. A 1400 kcal 75-gram carbohydrate (CHO) diet was given to women and an 1800 kcal 100-gram CHO diet was given to men for four weeks. The distribution of daily energy of the prescribed diet was 21-22% from CHO, 26-29% from protein and 49-53% from fat. Subjects completed a three-day dietary intake record before each visit. Anthropometric indices, body fat ratio, blood lipids, glucose and insulin were measured. Baseline and week-four results were compared with a Wilcoxon signed ranks test.
Twenty-five women and 18 men participated. Basal median LDL-C level of men was 3.11 and basal median LDL-C level of women was 3.00 mmol/l. After four weeks of a low-carbohydrate diet, the median energy intake decreased from 1901 to 1307 kcal/day, daily energy from carbohydrate from 55% to 33%, body weight from 87.7 to 83.0 kg and HDL-C increased from 0.83 to 0.96 mmol/l in men (p < 0.002, for all). After four weeks of a low-carbohydrate diet, the median energy intake tended to decrease (from 1463 to 1243 kcal, p = 0.052), daily energy from carbohydrate decreased from 53% to 30% (p < 0.001) and body weight decreased from 73.2 to 70.8 kg (p < 0.001) in women, but HDL-C did not significantly change (from 1.03 to 1.01 mmol/l, p = 0.165). There were significant decreases in body mass index, waist circumference, body fat ratio, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglyceride and insulin levels in all subjects.
HDL-C levels increased significantly with energy restriction, carbohydrate restriction and weight loss in men. HDL-C levels didn't change in women in whom there was no significant energy restriction but a significant carbohydrate restriction and a relatively small but significant weight loss. Our results suggest that both energy and carbohydrate restriction should be considered in overweight and obese subjects with low HDL-C levels, especially when LDL-C levels are not elevated.