Tag Archives: low fat

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Which is better: low-fat or low-carb? Neither option is superior, says new weight-loss research

A new study found cutting carbs or fats both result in about the same amount of excess weight loss. However, there was a lot of weight loss variability among people for each type of diet, which suggests that what works for some people won’t necessarily work the same way for others.

Credit: Pixabay.

Credit: Pixabay.

Christopher Gardner, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, says that every individual’s body is unique, and we’re only beginning to understand the reasons for this diversity.

“We’ve all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet — it worked great — and then another friend tried the same diet, and it didn’t work at all,” Gardner said in a statement.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what’s the best diet, but what’s the best diet for whom?”

He and colleagues investigated the biological nuances that that might encourage a person’s body to favor a low-carb diet over a low-fat diet with weight loss as the main objective.

The team enlisted 609 participants between the ages of 18 and 50. which were divided into two equally-sized groups. One followed a low-carb diet, which started off pretty aggressively as participants were allowed to eat only 20 grams of carbs per day — that’s no more than one a half slices of whole wheat bread. The other group went low-fat, starting with no more than 20 grams of fat per day, the equivalent to a handful of nuts.

After the first month, the participants were instructed to gradually add 5-15 grams of fat or carbs to their diets until they reached a more balanced diet. Studies have shown that if a diet is too aggressive with what and how much people are allowed to it, then rebounds are very likely — the key is to find a balanced nutrition.

Twelve months later, the low-fat diet group reported intaking 57 grams of grams on average while the low-carb group consumed 132 grams of carbohydrates per day. Before the study started, the average fat consumption for the participants was around 87 grams a day, and average carbohydrate intake was about 247 grams.

Before they embarked on the study, each participant had part of their genome sequenced and their baseline insulin outputs measured. This was to allow scientists to investigate any gene patterns that might be associated with weight loss from carb or fat metabolism.

Gardner emphasizes that it’s all about healthy low-fat and low-carb diets.

“We made sure to tell everybody, regardless of which diet they were on, to go to the farmer’s market, and don’t buy processed convenience food crap. 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. “We wanted them to choose a low-fat or low-carb diet plan that they could potentially follow forever, rather than a diet that they’d drop when the study ended.”

Credit: JAMA.

By the end of the study, individuals in both groups lost weight, on average about 13 pounds (almost 6kg). However, some dropped as much as 60 pounds (27kg), while others, on the opposite end of the spectrum, gained 15 or 20. This huge variability was observed for both kinds of diets. Perhaps, it could be explained by genotype patterns and baseline insulin levels, but Gardner and colleagues failed to make any association between these factors and the propensity to succeed on either diet.

So, by answering some questions, the research is opening the door to new ones. Gardner and colleagues now want to investigate the microbiome, epigenetics, or a different gene expression pattern they’ve yet to figure out for clues that might explain the drastic variability.

For you the reader, the biggest takeaways would be that there isn’t a clear-cut winner between low-fat and low-carb. It really depends on your body, so if you fail on low-carb, try low-fat, and vice-versa. And regardless of your diet, choose to eat less sugar, less refine flout and as many vegetables as possible.

 “On both sides, we heard from people who had lost the most weight that we had helped them change their relationship to food, and that now they were more thoughtful about how they ate,” said Gardner.

“I’m hoping that we can come up with signatures of sorts,” he said. “I feel like we owe it to Americans to be smarter than to just say ‘eat less.’ I still think there is an opportunity to discover some personalization to it — now we just need to work on tying the pieces together.”

The findings appeared in the journal JAMA. 

Low fat diets have a very low impact, decade-long study finds

A meta-analysis of 53 weight-loss studies spanning over several decades and focusing on 68,000 people found that weight loss have a very low impact – if any.

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Image via Pixabay.

If you don’t want to be fat, you should stop eating fats; it seems to make sense, and that’s what some nutritionists have been telling us for decades, but that’s not really how it works. A year after their diets started, participants in the 53 studies were, on average, only about 5 kilograms (11 pounds) lighter. Sure, it’s something, but it’s not that spectacular.

“That’s not that impressive,” says Kevin Hall, a physiologist at the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland. “All of these prescriptions for dieting seem to be relatively ineffective in the long term.”

These findings are not exactly a surprise – at least not for some. The advantages of low-fat diets have been questioned for decades, with more and more evidence indicating not only that they’re not that good at helping you lose weight, but that they can also harm you.

“For decades we’ve been touting low-fat diets as the way to lose weight, but obesity has gone up,” says Deirdre Tobias, lead author of the study and an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. “It seemed evident that low-fat diets may not be the way to go.”

Comparing the results of different type of diets, low-fat diets fared slightly worse than high-fat low-carb diets.

When it comes to losing weight, the net line is the same: you have to burn more calories than you eat. Of course, there are many ways to do this, and losing weight shouldn’t be the only concern – losing weight in a healthy and sustainable way is what people should be aiming for. But most people that go on a diet reach a minimum about 6 months in, and after that, they start relapsing.

So does this mean that dieting is useless? No, not really. These are the average values; some people lost a lot of weight, some lost a little weight, and some might have even gotten a few extra pounds. It’s just that dieting isn’t even half of the whole picture.

“To say cynically that there’s no diet that’s effective — I don’t think that’s the whole story,” Tobias says.

The thing is, nutritionists are beginning to shift away from the idea of calories and nutrients and focusing more on eating patterns. The Mediterranean diet for example, is widely regarded as a very healthy option alternative, and it’s rich in fats and has a lot of sugar – but it’s from fruits and vegetables. Also, no matter how you diet, nothing can replace physical exercise.