Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Which Diet Is Most Effective; Low Fat, Low Carb Or Mediterranean


The Study
In this well-designed trial, 322 overweight subjects were randomly assigned to either a low fat diet, a low carb diet or a Mediterranean diet for 2 years. By the end of follow-up, the low fat group had lost 6.4 lbs, the Mediterranean group had lost 9.7 lbs. and the low carb group lost 10.3 lbs. There were some other interesting results:

-The low carb diet was the toughest to adhere to and had the highest drop-out rate.

-The Mediterranean diet had a more beneficial impact on blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetics than the low fat or low carb groups.

-Several risk factors for heart disease improved more on the low carb and Mediterranean diets than on the low fat diet, including reductions in c-reactive protein, triglycerides and ratio of total to HDL cholesterol. The New England Journal of Medicine 2008; 359:229

Take Home Message
The research is really starting to show that a low fat diet is not the path to greater weight loss or improved health. This trial was extremely well designed and not only was the low fat diet less effective for weight loss, it did not improve risk factors for heart disease and diabetes as much as the other two approaches. 

It is important to note that the subjects on the low carb diet were instructed to eat vegetable sources of fat and protein. This was not your typical low carb diet where the subjects were eating bacon, steaks and full fat dairy all day. In fact, when you choose healthy sources of protein and fat, the low carb diet looks a lot like a Mediterranean diet.

For me, the take home messages of this study are:
#1) Healthy fat is a good thing and does not need to be tightly restricted whether your goal is improved health or weight loss.

#2) Too many rapidly absorbed carbohydrates in your diet can make it harder to lose weight and can have a negative impact on your health. 

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