Retrospective cohort study of changes in estimated glomerular filtration rate for patients prescribed a low carb diet.

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Purpose of review

Obesity and diabetes contribute to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and accelerate the loss of kidney function. Low carbohydrate diets (LCDs) are associated with weight loss and improved diabetes control. Compared to the typical Western diet, LCDs contain more protein, so individuals with CKD are not included in studies of LCDs. Therefore, there are no studies of LCDs for weight loss and their effects on kidney function.

Recent findings

Obesity, hyperglycemia, and hyperinsulinemia can be detrimental to kidney function. LCDs may improve kidney function in patients with obesity and diabetes because they are associated with weight loss, improve blood sugar control, and decrease endogenous insulin production and exogenous insulin requirements.


In this study, for patients with mildly reduced and moderately to severely reduced kidney function who were prescribed an LCD, their estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was either unchanged or improved. For those with normal or elevated eGFR, their kidney function was slightly decreased. For those without diabetes, greater weight loss was associated with improved eGFR. Future studies should prospectively measure low carbohydrate dietary adherence and physical activity and directly measure changes in GFR and albuminuria for participants with CKD before and during that diet.






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Publication Info

Mitchell, Nia S, Bryan C Batch and Crystal C Tyson (2021). Retrospective cohort study of changes in estimated glomerular filtration rate for patients prescribed a low carb diet. Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity, Publish Ahead of Print. 10.1097/med.0000000000000673 Retrieved from

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Nia Schwann Mitchell

Associate Professor of Medicine

Bryan Courtney Batch

Professor of Medicine

Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity/Overweight, Behavior change, Non-pharmacologic intervention, Health disparities


Crystal Cenell Tyson

Assistant Professor of Medicine

As a board-certified nephrologist and a certified clinical hypertension specialist (ASH-SCH), I take care of patients with kidney disorders and/or high blood pressure. Patients with chronic kidney disease and high blood pressure have an increased risk for developing complications of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes, kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant, and a shortened lifespan. My clinical focus is to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease and reduce complications from cardiovascular disease with lifestyle modification. I particularly enjoy treating patients with severe or difficult to control high blood pressure by focusing on finding an effective medication regimen that provides the least side effects, eliminating ineffective medications, simplifying medication schedules, and promoting healthy lifestyle behavior. I see patients 2 days per week in the Duke Nephrology Clinic and the Duke Nephrology Hypertension Clinic.

My research interests are to reduce racial and health disparities among patients with hypertension and chronic kidney disease using lifestyle modifications. My past and current research investigates the effects of diet (i.e., the DASH diet, sodium reduction), exercise, and weight loss on blood pressure and kidney function, as well as the effect of bilateral renal artery denervation on blood pressure.

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