- One of the hottest fitness topics today has been the curious case of low carb diets. The idea that limiting carbs could prove to be a major benefit through insulin modulation, the low carb fever is even more prevalent due to its ability to lose weight is fascinated by the specialists. dieters and dieters are having trouble.
- Unfortunately, most current studies do not offer praise for low carb diets, trying to outdo any diet as long as protein and calories are combined. There is no evidence that low carb advocates disagree with many of the studies mentioned, citing issues such as too short research, insufficient topics and / or conflicts of interest.
- Along with the existence of low carb-pro research, they themselves have a reasonable share of conflict, low carb story continues the same truck. Fortunately for us, science is persevering. A new study from Stanford University and from the lab of Dr. Christopher Gardner and his colleagues may eventually put the brake on low carb exaggeration. This randomized clinical trial led to 609 successful participants.
- Putting it further than intervening is 12 months long with an impressive 79 percent attendance rate. And not to address two of the three issues of previous research, the study was also funded by the National Institutes of Health and Nutrition Science Initiative, NuSI. NuSI was co-founded by famed low carb dietitian and advocate, Gary Taubes. The mission of the study: Pitting diet low in fat compared to low carb.
- Which is better for losing weight? Of the 609 subjects, 305 were randomly assigned to a low fat diet and 304 were randomly assigned to low carbs. In addition, all the objects are stratified into different groups of genes. The hypothesis is that each individual might perform better on a specific diet that their genotype favored.
Subjects were also given oral glucose tolerance tests to see if insulin production levels have any association to the effects of either diet. The subjects at hand were both men and women, on average roughly 40 years old, and classified as obese on the BMI scale (33). Throughout the entire 12-month intervention, 22 instructional sessions led by registered dietitians were given for each group.
- The goal was to educate the participants on eating habits such as eating whole foods instead of processed food and mindful vs mindless eating. As for the diet, each group were told to limit either fat or carb intake to 20 grams or fewer per day for the first 2 months. Afterwards, they had the opportunity to add more carbs or fat but only up to the point where they felt that they can sustain the diet indefinitely.
- Participants were also given random 24-hour dietary multi-pass recalls, a program that is essentially myfitnesspal on steroids. They also had blood lipid profiles and respiratory exchange ratio changes measured, which can indicate changes in energy metabolism favoring fat or carbs. By the end of the study, the low-fat group on average consumed 57 grams of fat per day and the low-carb group went up to 132 grams of carbs per day.
- And finally, the results: The little things first: As mentioned earlier, 79% of the participants, or 481, completed the entire intervention. There we no significant differences in calorie intake between both groups. No significant differences in protein intake but low-carb did consume a slight 12 grams more per day.
- No significant differences in fiber intake but low-fat did tend to consume slightly more due to the diet's high-carb nature. No differences in physical activity. Low-carb group did see greater changes favoring a healthier cholesterol profile by roughly 5%. Plus, no significant effects based on genotype patterns nor insulin level production. And finally, At the end of the 12-month program, the low-carb group lost 13.2 pounds (6kg) and the low-fat group lost 11.7 pounds. For a 12-month span, the difference is not considered statistically significant nor clinically relevant. And there we have it. After a rigorous 12 months, this study shows that there's simply no practical advantage to either diet when it comes to weight loss. But what's fascinating about this study to me is the absence of counting calories. That's not to say that calories aren't important.
- Based on the participants' reports, they were still achieving a calorie deficit of around 4 to 500 calories, inaccuracies not withheld. But the fact that they didn't count AND achieved a deficit ties the importance of the other factors in this study: creating a sustainable approach by having participants choose their OWN level of carb/fat restriction, and counseling them to make better food decisions and eating habits.
Granted, to some, the final tally of 132 grams of carbs in the low-carb group wouldn't exactly be considered a low-carb diet, but it's still significantly lower than where the participants started. In an interview with Examine.com, Dr. Christopher Gardner, the lead author, explained the rationale of this approach. The goal was to find the lowest level of carb or fat intake participants could achieve without feeling hungry.
- If hunger was an issue with lower intakes, that can lead to people jumping off the diet and revert back to old eating habits. The goal was to create new eating patterns that were sustainable without thinking of it as a “diet.” ADHERENCE was the goal and something so often ignored when it comes to dieting that needs the utmost attention. I fully agree with the rationale of this study.
- Stick with the plan that allows YOU to feel full, satisfied, and consume fewer calories. If that means fewer carbs, then great. If that means less fat, then awesome as well. As long as the foundation of eating more whole foods and less processed junk is in order, which Dr. Gardner also suggests, then everything else, and everyONE else, is simply noise. Except protein. Get your protein.