Low carb versus low fat diets equally effective says study

Lynette PayneFeb 22, 2018

Rather than leave the results to chance, the researchers tested the participants for genetic differences that might influence whether their weight was associated with too many carbohydrates or too much fat. "Also, we advised them to diet in a way that didn't make them feel hungry or deprived - otherwise it's hard to maintain the diet in the long run", said Gardner, who is director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

So despite the low-carb diet trend taking off, the findings released today confirming that low-carbohydrate diets are no more effective than traditional low-fat diets, are no surprise. Neither genetic predisposition nor insulin resistance was helpful in identifying which diet was better for whom, according to the study.

After the second month, the researchers allowed both groups to progressively increase their carb or fat intake to a sustainable level.

They found both groups lost weight equally well, averaging around 6kg.

POSTSCRIPT: There's still the question of why a low-carb or low-fat diet leads to lower calorie consumption.

The research "suggests that health authorities should shift away from telling the public to obsess over calories and instead encourage Americans to avoid processed foods that are made with refined starches and added sugar, like bagels, white bread, refined flour and sugary snacks and beverages, said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University", writes Anahad O'Connor for the New York Times. But the difference between how much weight people lost on average was so small that researchers don't consider it to be statistically significant.

Twelve randomly timed food intake questionnaires showed that most people stuck to the diet recommendations remarkably well, continuing to eat lower daily amounts of their restricted energy type all year. They were split into one of two dietary groups: low-carbohydrate or low-fat. Study claims alcohol is more important than exercise for living past 90Christopher Gardner, PhD, wanted to figure out if he could predict which diet would be the most successful for an individual person based on their genetic makeup.

In recent years, the big dietary villain has prominently shifted from fat to carbohydrates, with some studies suggesting high-fat, low-carb diets could be the best way to shave off those pounds and keep healthy. There was still, however, enormous weight loss variability among them - some dropped upward of 60 pounds, while others gained close to 15 or 20. They simply stopped eating in front of the TV or in their cars. Only 5 studies (nonrandomized and no comparison groups) evaluated these diets for more than 90 days. A total of 37.5% of participants in the HLC diet had the low-fat genotype, while 31.9% had the low-carb genotype.

"A couple weeks into the study people were asking when we were going to tell them how many calories to cut back on", he said. That's similar to what other studies have found, but there's an interesting wrinkle.

In the healthy low-fat diet group, 42.6% of participants had the low-fat responsiveness genotype, and 27.2% had the low-carbohydrate responsiveness genotype.

‘There is an opportunity to discover some personalisation to it – now we just need to work on tying the pieces together.' Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘It is refreshing to see Dr Gardner's honesty.

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