Low-Carb Vs. Low-Fat: Which Diet Is Better For Losing Weight?

By the end of the study, participants in the two groups had lost, on average, 13 pounds (5.8kg). A new study that could have a major impact on the way food is produced and marketed finds that the quality of the food ingested trumps all else when it comes to controlling weight. It all depends on the person - although they haven't yet been able to determine the all important characteristics that determine which camp you fall into.

Pick the one you are most likely to stick with, says Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California who compared both diet regimens for the best weight loss.The researchers concluded that you can expect to lose the same amount of weight, on average, on either one. The reason being all are varied, and we are just commencing to comprehend the basis for this diversity.

Similarly, there was also no interaction between the extent of weight loss after a year with diet-insulin secretion (INS-30) (ß 0.08, -0.13 to 0.28, P=0.47).

"I would bet that if they had implemented their intervention in a way that got the participants actually adhering to the diet recommendations, they would have shown what past studies show, which is that there are individual differences in response to different diets", Roberts, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email.

During the first 8 weeks, participants were told to limit their daily carbohydrate or fat intake to just 20g, the equivalent of a slice and a half of bread. However, some dropped as much as 60 pounds (27kg), while others, on the opposite end of the spectrum, gained 15 or 20.

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"At the end of the year, people on the low-fat diet lost an average of nearly 12 pounds, compared with about 13 pounds for the low-carb diet". However, in this study, the researchers calculated each person's genotype patterns and found that the type of diet did not make any difference in the amount of weight the individuals lost. One of the key focuses of the study was to understand how individual factors relate to weight loss and each participant's genome was examined at the start of the study.

It didn't include very many people, however, so Gardner and colleagues recruited more volunteers and tried a more rigorous approach. They were also given common-sense advice about eating more vegetables and whole grains and less fatty and sugary junk food.

Researchers at Stanford University found that overweight adults who followed a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet tailored to their genetic predisposition and biological makeup weren't any more successful at shedding pounds than the groups that followed the same two diets, but without the customization for these predispositions. He's also keen for people to eat more "whole foods" too, whether that's a wheat berry salad or grass-fed beef.

While that may be frustrating news for dieters, Gardner says there is a silver lining to the finding. "But let's cut to the chase: We didn't replicate [our previous] study, we didn't even come close".

‘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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