Low-carb Diets Could Be Better For Weight Loss

Low CarbLow Carb

Low-carbohydrate Diets May Be Better For Weight Loss Than a Low-fat Alternative.

As we enter the post-holiday period, most of us begin to focus on recovering from all the parties and feasts.  Most have gained a little poundage over the holidays, and now we plan to lose the extra that we gained around our waistlines.  Of course, now you are frantic to lose it.  Is there a quick fix?  Probably not, but look no further because this study may help you choose your future diet.  This study indicates that low-carbohydrate plans are better than their low-fat counterparts for short-term weight loss.  It might be only a slight advantage over a short period, but it is clinically significant.  If you want to lose the body mass you gained over the holidays, this might be just what you need.  

Low Carbohydrate

Low Carbohydrate

One recent article from the American Osteopathic Association reviewed randomized controlled trials that looked at low-carbohydrate plans.  They found that regimens that were lower in carbohydrates were slightly better for body fat reduction in the short term when compared to plans that were lower in fats[1]. It is an excellent article, and it clearly illustrates that not all programs with reduced carbohydrates are the same.  

Sure, low-carbohydrate regimens are similar, but they are also vastly different.   Carbohydrate-restricted diets can vary in carbohydrate allowances from less than 20 grams to 130 grams daily.  Because the weight loss plans vary so much, I would argue that judging them as a group is unfair when they are clearly different.  Despite this, experts continue to vilify higher protein plans as a group.  So, what does the research show?  

In this article[2], the physicians defined low-carb diets at a highly variable level of carbohydrates. The study reports that previous articles have reported that “low-carb comprises less than 45 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates.”  I would not consider 45 percent to be low in carbohydrates.  In fact, I would think 45% to be a high level.  

Research on Carbohydrate Reduced Diets:

  1. Raw steak

    Raw steak

    Protein is more filling than carbohydrates. Although the study population is small, it did indicate that among 18 males, the protein was more satiating than carbohydrates, and the subjects were less hungry after protein meals and ate less[3].

  2. Low-carb regimens are decent alternatives to the standard low-fat diet. One study examined 332 moderately obese subjects and found that the low-carb and Medeteranien groups lost 4.7 and 4.4 kgs versus 2.9 kgs on the low-fat diet[4].
  3. Low-carb diets may result in more weight loss than a low-fat regimen. One study looked at 1,415 patients on either a very low-carb or a low-fat plan.  The researchers found that the very low-carb plan lost more weight during this study[5].

There are plenty more studies that both indicate for and against low-carbohydrate plans. I have recommendations based on my review of the data.  I do not think the studies are clear enough to recommend low-carb for everyone,  but clearly, there might be benefits for some dieters.

Recommendations on Low-Carb Diets:

  1. Individualize your nutrition plan. Not everyone is meant to be on a low-carb diet. Pick a regimen that fits your lifestyle. I could not survive vegan meals alone and would be miserable if I tried.  There is a reason the maker gave us canines, and I do not believe it was to rip apart broccoli.
  2. Low-carb might increase short-term weight loss. If you can tolerate a  restricted or reduced carbohydrate diet, consider it an option in your body mass reduction plans.  I do believe it may work better in some than others.  It is not perfect for everyone, so you should pick a diet that works for you.  
[1]Fields et al., “Are Low-Carbohydrate Diets Safe and Effective?”
[2]Fields et al., “Are Low-Carbohydrate Diets Safe and Effective?”
[3]Bertenshaw, Lluch, and Yeomans, “Satiating Effects of Protein but Not Carbohydrate Consumed in a between-Meal Beverage Context.”
[4]Shai et al., “Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet.”
[5]Bueno et al., “Very-Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet v. Low-Fat Diet for Long-Term Weight Loss: A Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.”
Bertenshaw, Emma J., Anne Lluch, and Martin R. Yeomans. “Satiating Effects of Protein but Not Carbohydrate Consumed in a between-Meal Beverage Context.” Physiology & Behavior. Elsevier BV, February 2008. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.09.014
Bueno, Nassib Bezerra, Ingrid Sofia Vieira de Melo, Suzana Lima de Oliveira, and Terezinha da Rocha Ataide. “Very-Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet v. Low-Fat Diet for Long-Term Weight Loss: A Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.” British Journal of Nutrition. Cambridge University Press (CUP), May 7, 2013. doi: 10.1017/s0007114513000548
Fields, H, B Ruddy, MR Wallace, A Shah, and D Millstine. “Are Low-Carbohydrate Diets Safe and Effective?” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 116, no. 12 (December 1, 2016): 788–93. [PubMed]
Shai, Iris, Dan Schwarzfuchs, Yaakov Henkin, Danit R. Shahar, Shula Witkow, Ilana Greenberg, Rachel Golan, et al. “Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet.” New England Journal of Medicine. New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM/MMS), July 17, 2008. doi: 10.1056/nejmoa0708681
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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