Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat. Who Wins?

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 22, 2018

"It's time for the USA and other national policies to stop focusing on calories and calorie counting".

Gardner and his colleagues designed the study to compare how overweight and obese people would fare on low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. A growing number of services have capitalized on this idea by offering people personalized nutrition advice tailored to their genotypes.

But a study now suggests that both low fat and low carb diets are equally effective in losing weight-as long as you're consuming the right type of foods. Everyone attended nutrition education classes about minimally-processed foods.

Soft drinks, fruit juice, muffins, white rice and white bread are technically low in fat, for example, but the low-fat group was told to avoid those things and eat foods like brown rice, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, quinoa, fresh fruit and legumes.

The low-carb group was advised to eat foods such as avocados, hard cheeses, vegetables, olive oil, salmon, nut butter, and grass-fed and pasture-raised animal foods.

Over the 12-month period, researchers tracked the progress of participants, logging information about weight, body composition, baseline insulin levels and how many grams of fat or carbohydrate they consumed daily. "Not because it will help them lose fat faster, but because the carbs can have a mild effect on helping to preserve muscle mass while the athlete is in caloric restriction".

More importantly, all of the participants in the year-long study - regardless of which group they were in - were put on a healthy eating plan that diverges dramatically from what most Americans eat.

Because past studies have shown that people lose vastly different amounts of weight on various diets - and no one diet works for everyone - researchers set out to see if someone's genetic makeup or insulin secretion could predict dieting success. There was still, however, vast weight loss variability among them; some dropped upward of 60 pounds, while others gained close to 15 or 20.

Considering some facilities have cashed in on DNA-based diets, the results are important in disproving the notion that DNA plays any significant role in how efficiently a person loses weight. "We told them all that we wanted them to minimize added sugar and refined grains and eat more vegetables and whole foods. And those low-carb chips - don't buy them, because they're still chips and that's gaming the system'".

A lot of studies like this are flawed because they'll often "control" what a person eats by just asking them to stick to a diet and submit an occasional food journal of their last twenty-four hours.

Beyond calorie counting, the study contradicted the increasingly popular theory that diets should be catered to an individual's genetics. "We've had to do that so many times in the past'".

After one year, both groups demonstrated significant weight loss even though they didn't worry about their calorie intake. Weight changes among the HLF and HLC participants at the end of the study were -5.3 kg and -6.0 kg, respectively.

At the end of the year, the weight loss for the two groups was very similar: an average of nearly 11 pounds for the low-fat group and an average of just over 13 pounds for the low-carb group. Both groups also saw improvements in other health markers, like reductions in their waist sizes, body fat, and blood-sugar and blood-pressure levels.

The data also revealed that people with genetic variations linked to a low-fat diet response were not more likely to lose weight on a low-fat diet. Surprisingly, they did not, Gardner said, which was somewhat disappointing.

"It would have been sweet to say we have a simple clinical test that will point out whether you're insulin resistant or not and whether you should eat more or less carbs", he told The Times.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this study, Gardner said, is that the fundamental strategy for losing weight with either a low-fat or a low-carb approach is similar.

Gardner said it is not that calories do not matter.

Both groups reduced their daily calorie intake by an average of about 500 calories.

Nutritious foods are more satiating, which naturally helps people eat less, and therefore consume fewer calories.

While most diets work, the real challenge is sticking with them, Veerman said.

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