Low-Carb Diet Lowers Blood Pressure
Low-Carbohydrate Diet Better Than Weight Loss Drug Orlistat at Lowering Blood Pressure With Weight Loss
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 25, 2010 -- A low-carbohydrate diet may have health benefits that go
beyond weight loss.
A new study shows that a low-carbohydrate diet was equally good as the
weight loss drug orlistat (the active ingredient in Alli and Xenical) at
helping overweight and obese people lose weight, but people who followed the
low-carb diet also experienced a healthy drop in their blood pressure
"I expected the weight loss to be considerable with both therapies but we
were surprised to see blood pressure improve so much more with the
low-carbohydrate diet than with orlistat," researcher William S. Yancy, Jr.,
MD, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, says
in a news release. "If people have high blood pressure and a weight problem, a
low-carbohydrate diet might be a better option than a weight loss
Researchers say studies have already shown that the two weight loss methods
are effective at promoting weight loss, but it's the first time the health
effects of each have been compared head to head.
"It's important to know you can try a diet instead of medication and get the
same weight loss results with fewer costs and potentially fewer side effects,"
Low-Carb Lowers Blood Pressure
In the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 146
obese or overweight adults were randomly divided into two groups. Many of the
participants also had chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure or
The first group was advised to follow a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet
consisting of less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, and the second group
received the weight loss drug orlistat three times a day, plus counseling in
following a low-fat diet (less than 30% of daily calories from fat) at group
meetings over 48 weeks.
The results showed weight loss was similar in the two groups. The low-carb
diet group lost an average of 9.5% of their body weight and the orlistat group
lost an average of 8.5%. Both weight loss methods were also not significantly
different at improving cholesterol and glucose levels.
But when researchers looked at changes in blood pressure, they found nearly
half of those who followed the low-carbohydrate group had their blood pressure
medication decreased or discontinued during the study, compared to only 21% of
those in the orlistat group.
Overall, systolic (the top number in a blood pressure reading) dropped an
average of 5.9 points among the low-carb diet group, compared with an increase
of 1.5 points in the orlistat group.
Researchers say weight loss itself typically produces a healthy reduction in
blood pressure, but it appears that a low-carbohydrate diet has an additional
blood pressure-lowering effect that merits further study.