Effects of Low-Carbohydrate versus Mediterranean Diets on Weight Loss, Glucose Metabolism, Insulin Kinetics and β-Cell Function in Morbidly Obese Individuals.

Nutrients. 2021;13(4)

Plain language summary

Both low-carbohydrate and Mediterranean style diets are used to prevent lifestyle associated diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, which diet is more effective is unclear. The aim of this randomised control trial of 36 morbidly obese individuals was to compare the effectiveness of Mediterranean diets and low-carbohydrate diets to improve metabolic measures such as blood sugar levels, pre-diabetes, and the body’s ability to use sugar. The results showed that in the short-term both diets were equally effective at improving biochemical dysfunctions that contribute to type 2 diabetes. The low-carbohydrate diet did result in higher weight loss than the Mediterranean diet. Studies on long-term effects are warranted. It was concluded that a low-carbohydrate diet is in the short-term a feasible alternative to the Mediterranean diet for improved weight loss and biological contributors to type 2 diabetes. This study could be used by healthcare professionals to understand that the Mediterranean diet and low-carbohydrate diet are both effective in the short-term for improvements to contributors to type 2 diabetes, however the low-carbohydrate diet may be superior if weight loss is required.


Low-calorie Mediterranean-style or low-carbohydrate dietary regimens are widely used nutritional strategies against obesity and associated metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a balanced Mediterranean diet with a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and glucose homeostasis in morbidly obese individuals at high risk to develop diabetes. Insulin secretion, insulin clearance, and different β-cell function components were estimated by modeling plasma glucose, insulin and C-peptide profiles during 75-g oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs) performed at baseline and after 4 weeks of each dietary intervention. The average weight loss was 5%, being 58% greater in the low-carbohydrate-group than Mediterranean-group. Fasting plasma glucose and glucose tolerance were not affected by the diets. The two dietary regimens proved similarly effective in improving insulin resistance and fasting hyperinsulinemia, while enhancing endogenous insulin clearance and β-cell glucose sensitivity. In summary, we demonstrated that a low-carbohydrate diet is a successful short-term approach for weight loss in morbidly obese patients and a feasible alternative to the Mediterranean diet for its glucometabolic benefits, including improvements in insulin resistance, insulin clearance and β-cell function. Further studies are needed to compare the long-term efficacy and safety of the two diets.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal ; Immune and inflammation
Environmental Inputs : Diet
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood ; Breath ; Imaging

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 2
Allocation concealment : No


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Insulin resistance ; Type 2 diabetes ; low-carbohydrate diet