Best Weight Loss Diet? Mediterranean and Low-Carb Diets Beat Low-Fat Diet Over Six Years

Israeli flag

Remember Shai et al’s 2008 DIRECT study that compared weight loss over two years on either a low-fat, Mediterranean, or low-carb diet?  I didn’t think so.  I reviewed it at length in 2008.

The same researchers in Israel recently reported the results of an additional four years of follow-up.  Do you know of any other weight loss study over that length of time?  I don’t either.

Of the 322 original study participants, 259 were available for follow-up for an additional four years.  Of these, 67% told researchers they had continued their originally assigned diet.

Over six years, the weight loss was as follows:

  • 0.6 kg (about a pound) in the low-fat group
  • 1.7 kg (almost 4 pounds) in the low-carb cohort
  • 3.1 kg (almost 7 pounds) in the Mediterranean group

The difference between the low-carb and Mediterranean groups was not statistically significant.

Almost all the original study participants (86%) were men, so it’s debatable whether these results apply to women.  I bet they do.  I assume most of the participants were Israeli, so you can also debate whether results apply to other nationalities or ethnicities.

Bottom Line

For long-term weight management, Mediterranean and low-carb diets appear to be more effective than traditional low-fat, calorie-restricted dieting.

Beth Mazur at her Weight Maven blog has some worthwhile comments about the study.  See also Laura Dolson’s remarks at About.com.

Incidentally, my Advanced Mediterranean Diet (2nd Edition) book has both Mediterranean and low-carb diets.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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