Sunday, April 15, 2007

Low-Carb A 'Reasonable Alternative' To Low-Fat, Portion Control Diet, Study Finds

After blogging about the preliminary findings of a study comparing low-carb weight loss with a low-fat, portion-controlled diet in October 2005, I am pleased to share with you the full findings of this study as reported by Reuters recently.

Lead researcher Dr. Kevin C. Maki, investigator at the Chicago, IL-based Radiant Research, wanted to see if lowering the glycemic load and increasing the protein content of the study participants' diet would provide any advantages when it comes to weight loss (a theory already substantiated by previous research). Also, the researchers were looking at body fat composition and cardiovascular risk among the overweight and obese adults participating.

Observing the 86 study participants over an initial 12-week period and then for an additional 24 weeks thereafter, Dr. Maki split them into one of two dietary groups: A reduced-glycemic load (RGL) diet group and a traditional low-fat, portion-controlled diet group (LFPC).

The RGL group was specifically told to eat until they were satisfied, maintain a low-carb dietary intake for the first two weeks (simulating the Induction phase of the Atkins diet), and then to start adding low-glycemic-index carbohydrate afterwards. They were not required to count a single calorie (something I've never done on my low-carb plan) and were permitted to eat as much as they wanted during the study.

The LFPC group was the control in the study and were told to lower their fat intake and portion sizes aiming for an energy deficit of 500-800 calories/day. The total calories would vary by individual based on their activity level and food intake. But it was basically a low-fat, low-calorie, portion control diet.

At the end of 12 weeks, the RGL group had lost nearly twice as much weight (10.8 pounds) as the LFPC group (5.5 pounds). Additionally, the RGL group lost MORE THAN DOUBLE the amount of fat (4.2 pounds) as the LFPC group (2 pounds).

As signficant as these three-month comparison totals were, they became statistically less important at the end of 36 weeks. Weight loss as well as body fat composition after the six-month study concluded remained virtually the same as it was at the end of week 12.

However, the researchers did note that the positive change in HDL cholesterol (which was recently found in this study to be more a better health marker for cardiovascular risk than LDL cholesterol) among the RGL group was TWICE that of the LFPC group.

Dr. Maki concluded that the low-carb RGL diet is "a reasonable alternative to a low-fat, portion-controlled eating plan for weight management."

The results of this study were published in the March 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

At this point, Dr. Maki would like to continue to research why the low-carb RGL diet works so well for short-term weight loss and to figure out ways continue those losses over the long-term so they can "obtain greater insight into strategies that would improve long-term weight-loss maintenance."

That's exactly what livin' la vida low-carb is all about. Lost in the debate between low-fat and low-carb is the fact that both have been found to be at least equally effective at weight loss. That's why I have been pushing for them to be recommended alongside each other by our government and health leaders now that the research has shown them to be no different. Or, as Dr. Maki states in his research, low-carb is now a "reasonable alternative."

As more and more research like this one from Dr. Maki and the Stanford JAMA study keep coming out showing livin' la vida low-carb is a viable option for people to try instead of the failed low-fat, low-calorie, portion control diets, it's gonna get a whole lot more difficult for them to keep ignoring it. They'll do their best to turn a blind eye, but at some point it will become so obvious they'll be left with no choice but acceptance.

That day can't come fast enough if we are going to beat obesity!

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