Low-carbohydrate and high-fat intake can manage obesity and associated conditions: Occasional survey

Timothy David Noakes


This study analyses 127 communications from individuals self-reporting their weight change following adoption of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) eating plan. Total combined self-reported weight loss was 1 900 kg (range 5 kg gain to 84 kg loss). The mean ± standard deviation weight loss of 15 (±12) kg is among the largest yet described. Sixteen subjects reported the LCHF ‘cured’ (i.e. medications no longer required) one or more of their medical conditions, most commonly type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) (n=14), hypertension (n=8) and hypercholesterolaemia (n=7). Another 9 subjects with either type 1 diabetes mellitus or T2DM reduced medications as did 7 patients with hypertension; 8 no longer suffered from irritable bowel syndrome. These data show that significant and rapid weight loss is possible on an unsupervised eating plan that severely restricts daily carbohydrate intake to approximately <75 g/day. Better weight loss on a carbohydrate-restricted LCHF eating plan than on an iso-caloric high-carbohydrate, low-fat (HCLF) diet is well described in the literature, probably due to a paradoxical reduction of hunger by carbohydrate restriction. A randomised controlled clinical trial is urgently required to disprove the hypothesis that the LCHF eating plan can reverse cases of T2DM, metabolic syndrome and hypertension without pharmacotherapy. 

Author's affiliations

Timothy David Noakes, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town and Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

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nutrition; diabetes; carbohydrate; fat; Banting; Atkins; weight loss

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2013;103(11):826-830. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.7302

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-07-23
Date published: 2013-09-30

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