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Low-fat or low-carb Diet: Which food do you use to lose weight?

With too many styles of diets to choose from, how do we decide which one will better fit us? One dilemma we face may be determining whether to go low.

Low-fat or low-carb Diet: Which food do you use to lose weight?
With too many styles of diets to choose from, how do we decide which one will better fit us? One dilemma we face may be determining whether to go low-fat or low-carb. What does it have to tell regarding research?

The controversy on whether low-carb diets are better than low-fat diets when it comes to losing pounds has erupted. However, new research does find little difference between the two.

The finding emerges from studying around 600 people who were overweight between 15 and 100 pounds as they embarked on a year-long controlled diet, either low-fat or low-carb.

"Briefly, we proposed we could use information from previous studies over the past decade to come up with variables that we should test to further determine the diet is better for everyone," explained the author of the report, Christopher Gardner.

But both diets caused substantial weight loss, he added. In fact, Gardner and his collaborators obtained no empirical information on whether certain people appear to lose more weight than others, regardless of the approach they adopt.

Keto diets, Mediterranean diets, fasting diets — There are so many options out there for anyone who wants to lose weight.

It's hard to pick a diet though; how do we know which one would be best for us, or whether the diet would be anyway?

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California have recently published a research that addresses one main part of this "right diet" problem — whether low-fat or low-carb diets are more efficient. But what the report's lead author, Prof. Christopher Gardner, and colleagues find may only intensify this problem.

"We've all heard the stories," says Prof. Gardner, "about a buddy who went on one diet — it worked perfectly — and another buddy followed the same approach and it didn't work at all. That's because we're all so different that we're only starting to understand the reasons behind the difference." Prof. Gardner said his team served with 609 participants aged 18–50, with a male-to-female ratio. The participants were divided into two groups, then allocated one of two diets at random: low-carb or low-fat. All participants in the sample have maintained their prescribed diet for a full year.

The findings of the researchers' study currently appear in the JAMA journal.

Aim for healthier products Prof. Gardner and staff sequenced the participants' genomes to obtain a better understanding of the factors that may cause weight to obtain and weight loss. By doing so, they searched for variations of genes that could be related to fat effectiveness or carb metabolism.

Another research examined insulin levels in both groups, typically linked to weight gain in certain individuals. For the first eight weeks of their respective diets, participants were advised to consume no more than 20 grams of either fat or carbohydrates a day. That will be the equivalent of one and a half slices of whole-wheat bread (for carbohydrates) or a big handful of nuts (for fats), the authors claim.

By the second month of their diet onwards, participants were able to make changes if required, bringing in 5 -15 grams of either carbs or fat, little by little. Such changes were meant to allow participants to achieve a dietary equilibrium outside the "confines" of the sample, which they should feel confident adhering to in the long run.

"We needed them to pick," says Prof. Gardner, "a low-fat or low-carb diet program they might theoretically adopt for life, rather than a diet they might reduce at the end of the year." As the year came to a close, those who adopted a low-fat diet had an overall total fat consumption of 57 grams relative to 87 grams a day prior to the start of the research. Those on a low-carb diet had a cumulative carb intake of about 132 grams, relative to 247 grams before the study started. Participants over the 1-year period weighted a minimum of 13 pounds. The authors were pleased with the study's effect on participants' digestive wellbeing, noting that one of their biggest successes was to persuade them to turn to healthier sources of fats and carbs.

"We've made sure we convince them," adds Professor Gardner, "regardless of their way of living, to go to the farmer's market and not buy fast food processed. We've always urged everyone to consume enough that they don't feel sick or hungry."

Study 'raise the door' to more questions When assessing participants' baseline insulin levels and weight loss rate during the survey, the researchers observed that although they had all adjusted to healthier eating habits, there was still a lot of individual variabilities when weight loss occurred.

And while some guests gained more than 60 pounds, some won 15–20 pounds. Nonetheless, the researchers were unable to detect any associations between gene variants or insulin development, and the probability of a person thriving in a low-fat versus low-carb diet.

"This job closes the door to some problems — but it unlocks the door for others. We have data gobs that we can use in secondary, primary research," comments Prof. Gardner.

So, the next step of the researchers from here will be to go at all the various data gathered during the current study and try and understand how potential human dietary needs might be assessed.

"I think there's an opportunity to try some creativity — so we need to really work together to link the pieces," says Prof. Gardner.

In the meantime, the experts are advising people on a journey to weight loss simply to be more mindful of what they are eating, because that will be the first step towards a healthier lifestyle.

"On both aspects [referring to low-carb and low-fat nutritionists], we learned from those who lost the most weight that we had helped them strengthen their dietary dedication, and they were now more conscious of how they eat," says Professor Gardner.

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YourFitnessRink - Fitness and Health Matters: Low-fat or low-carb Diet: Which food do you use to lose weight?
Low-fat or low-carb Diet: Which food do you use to lose weight?
With too many styles of diets to choose from, how do we decide which one will better fit us? One dilemma we face may be determining whether to go low.
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