Background: Lifestyle interventions, including dietary adjustment and exercise, are important for weight loss in the context of obesity.

Objective: This study aimed to compare the short-term effects of a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) and exercise nondiabetic overweight and obese adults.

Design: A total of 45 eligible subjects were randomized into a low-carbohydrate diet group (LC, n=22) and an exercise group (EX, n=23); the participants adopted a LCD (carbohydrate intake < 30 mins/day) for 3 weeks. Weekly follow-ups were conducted and flash glucose monitoring sensors were used.≥50 g/day) or performed moderate-to-vigorous exercise (

Results: After the 3-week intervention, body mass index, total fat% and total fat mass (FM), waist circumference, visceral fat area and subcutaneous fat area decreased significantly in both the LC and EX, but the LC lost 2.32 kg more weight than the EX. Total fat-free mass (FFM) and total body water (TBW) in the LC were significantly reduced but remained unchanged in the EX. Triglycerides (TGs), total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) decreased in the EX, while TGs decreased and LDL-c increased in the LC. Glycemic variability and insulin resistance were improved in both groups, but the effect in the LC was faster and greater. Mean sensor glucose declined significantly in the LC. Three days after stopping the intervention, body weight, FM and FFM increased significantly in the LC, and most of the FFM regained was TBW, which remained stable in the EX.

Conclusion: A short-term LCD was more effective for weight loss and glycemic stability than exercise, and it mainly reduced body fat and body water. However, body weight was regained to a greater extent after stopping the LCD, which was due to body water retention. Exercise was less effective for fat loss than LCD and had no significant influence on body water.


J. Zhou: None. L. Cai: None. J. Yin: None. X. Ma: None. Y. Mo: None. L. Cheng: None. W. Lu: None. Y. Bao: None. W. Jia: None.

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