Not Much Difference Between Low-Carb And Low-Fat Diets, Research Says

Researchers found people cutting either carbs or fat lost on average 13 pounds after a year

Don't waste money on a diet plan that claims to match meals to your DNA - it won't make a difference, a new study has found. 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.

"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", said Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine and the lead author of the study.

"It's because we're all different, and we're just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity".

The factors considered in the study, such as the insulin test used (INS-30) and the genetic variations identified, may not be the right ones to use - although they were considered the best at the time of the study.

Researchers recruited 609 participants, split evenly between men and women, aged 18-50. It's worth noting that average fat consumption for the participants before the study started was around 87 grams a day, and average carbohydrate intake was about 247 grams.

No one diet strategy is consistently better than others for weight loss in the general population, conclude the researchers.

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.

After that they added back five to 15 grammes of fat or carbs gradually, aiming to reach a balance they believed they could maintain for the rest of their lives.

The average amount of weight lost across both groups over the duration of the 12 months was 13 pounds. Similarly, a few women whose DNA did not "match" went through a divorce or other upheaval, ate for emotional comfort, gained weight, and made the mismatched group look awful - a reminder that so many emotional, economic, metabolic, social, and other forces affect someone's chance of losing weight that the effect of genes gets lost in the noise. "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. He's also keen for people to eat more "whole foods" too, whether that's a wheat berry salad or grass-fed beef.




Further, huge weight loss variability was observed among the participants of both the groups. If you've ever dieted, chances are you'll have followed either a low-carb (Atkins) or low-fat plan.

In the HLF group, 42.6% of participants had the low-fat genotype, while 27.2% had the low-carb genotype.

"This study closes the door on some questions - but it opens the door to others".

They found the key to losing weight is enjoying high-quality food, not worrying about which type of eating regime to follow.

"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 added.

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.

"We really did get a lot of people on both diets to be successful", Gardner says.

Poor insulin response had previously been thought to indicate that people would benefit from a low-carb diet, but again, in this study, people with poor insulin response were no more likely to lose weight on a low-carb diet than a low-fat diet.

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