Low carb diet doesn't lead to bone loss

May 31, 2006 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Low carb diet doesn't lead to bone loss

Researchers at the University of South Florida have found that following a strict low-carbohydrate diet has no effect on bone loss.

The three-month study published in the journal Osteoporosis International study followed 30 overweight patients for three months. Half followed a strict low carbohydrate diet ñ consuming less than 20 grams of carbohydrates a day the first month and then less than 40 grams a day for the remaining two months. The control half ate a normal diet with no restrictions.

The researchers used blood tests to measure the patients' breakdown and formation of bone and checked urine for signs that the dieters were complying with their low-carbohydrate diets.

The difference in bone turnover between the low carbohydrate dieters and the non-dieters was insignificant after three months.

It has been suspected that low carbohydrate diets, which replace calories from carbohydrates with more consumption of high-protein foods like meat and eggs, alter the body's acid balance. This imbalance could lead to increased bone turnover (more rapid depletion than formation of bone) -- increasing the risk for osteoporosis.

While these results proved otherwise, a potential limitation of the study was that the researchers looked for at least a 50 percent difference in bone turnover between the dieters and non-dieters. It's possible that more subtle effects on bone quality might have been found especially if the low carbohydrate diet was maintained beyond three months.

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