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Low-Carb Diets Not Harmful to Kidneys of Healthy Obese Patients

Last Updated: June 01, 2012.

Low-carbohydrate diets are safe for otherwise healthy obese individuals and there is no evidence that these diets cause kidney damage, according to a study published online May 31 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

FRIDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Low-carbohydrate diets are safe for otherwise healthy obese individuals and there is no evidence that these diets cause kidney damage, according to a study published online May 31 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Allon N. Friedman, M.D., from the University of Indiana in Indianapolis, and colleagues randomly assigned 307 obese adults without serious illness to either a low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet or a low-fat weight-loss diet for 24 months.

The researchers found that, compared to the low-fat diet, the low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet was associated with minor reductions in serum creatinine (relative difference, −4.2 percent) and cystatin C (−8.4 percent) at three months. Additionally, the low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet was associated with relative increases in creatinine clearance at three months (15.8 ml/min) and 12 months (20.8 ml/min); serum urea at three months (14.4 percent), 12 months (9.0 percent), and 24 months (8.2 percent); and 24-hour urinary volume at 12 (438 ml) and 24 (268 ml) months. Additionally, urinary calcium excretion increased at three (36.1 percent) and 12 (35.7 percent) months without changes in bone density or incidence of new kidney stones.

"In healthy obese individuals, a low-carbohydrate/high-protein weight-loss diet over two years was not associated with noticeably harmful effects on glomerular filtration rate, albuminuria, or fluid and electrolyte balance compared with a low-fat diet," the authors write.

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