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Cutting either carbs or fats shaves off excess weight in about the same proportion (2018-03-14)

Neither option is superior: Cutting either carbs or fats shaves off excess weight in about the same proportion, according to the study. What’s more, the study inquired whether insulin levels or a specific genotype pattern could predict an individual’s success on either diet.
The answer, in both cases, was no.

The new study led by Dr. Christopher Gardner of Stanford University, has shown that it’s the quality of what you eat - such as emphasizing whole foods and vegetables - not quantity, which truly impacts the amount of weight one losses.

Originally, the study set out to look at which diet might be better – either low-carb or low-fat - and whether diet success correlated to other factors.

In this randomized clinical trial among 609 overweight adults, weight change over 12 months was not significantly different for participants in the healthy low-fat diet group (-5.3 kg) vs the healthy low-carbohydrate diet group (-6.0 kg), and there was no significant diet-genotype interaction or diet-insulin interaction with 12-month weight loss.

About half were men and half were women.

All were randomized into one of two dietary groups: low-carbohydrate or low-fat.
Each group was instructed to maintain their diet for one year.

In the initial eight weeks of the study, participants were told to limit their daily carbohydrate or fat intake to just 20 grams, which is about what can be found in a 1½ slices of whole wheat bread or in a generous handful of nuts, respectively.

After the second month, Gardner’s team instructed the groups to make incremental small adjustments as needed, adding back 5-15 grams of fat or carbs gradually, aiming to reach a balance they believed they could maintain for the rest of their lives.

At the end of the 12 months, those on a low-fat diet reported a daily average fat intake of 57 grams; those on low-carb ingested about 132 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Those statistics pleased Gardner, given 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.

What’s key, Gardner said, was emphasizing that these were healthy low-fat and low-carb diets: a soda might be low-fat, but it’s certainly not healthy.

Lard may be low-carb, but an avocado would be healthier. “We made sure to tell everybody, regardless of which diet they were on, to go to the farmer’s market, and don’t buy processed convenience food crap.

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, who holds the Rehnborg Farquhar Professorship.
“We wanted them to choose a low-fat or low-carb diet plan that they could potentially follow forever, rather than a diet that they’d drop when the study ended.”

The study found that those who cut back on refined sugars and wheat and loaded up on vegetables and whole foods without regards to portions or exercise, lost a significant amount of weight.

This strategy worked, regardless of whether the study participants were in the low-fat or low-carb camps, or whether they had possible insulin resistance or genetic markers.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this study, Gardner said, is that the fundamental strategy for losing weight with either a low-fat or a low-carb approach is similar. Eat less sugar, less refined flour and as many vegetables as possible.
Go for whole foods, whether that is a wheatberry salad or grass-fed beef.

“On both sides, we heard from people who had lost the most weight that we had helped them change their relationship to food, and that now they were more thoughtful about how they ate,” said Gardner.

For more information
Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin SecretionThe DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial

Stanford Medicine