Low-Carb vs Low-Fat Diets for Weight Loss

Low-Carb vs Low-Fat Diets for Weight Loss

August 10, 2019 100 By William Morgan


One of the hottest fitness topics today has
been the curious case of low carb diets.
Hinging on the idea that restricting carbs
can prove beneficial primarily through insulin
modulation, the low carb craze grew even more
popular as its weight loss potential was enthralled
by nutrition experts and struggling dieters
alike.
Unfortunately, much of the current research
don’t exactly have stellar praise for the
low-carb agenda, struggling to outperform
any other diet as long as protein and calories
are matched.
Not to be rifled by the evidence, low-carb
advocates disagree with much of the said research,
citing issues like the studies were too short,
there were not enough subjects, and/or conflicts
of interest.
Along with existence of PRO-low-carb studies,
which themselves have a fair share of conflicts,
the low-carb narrative continues to truck
along.
Fortunately for us, science is persistent.
A new study coming out of Stanford University
and from the lab of Dr. Christopher Gardner
and his colleagues might finally put the brakes
on the low-carb hype.
This randomized clinical trial bolsters an
impressive 609 participants.
Setting it apart even more is that the intervention
was 12 months long with an impressive 79 percent
participant retention rate.
And not to settle for knocking out two of
the three issues of past studies, the research
was also funded by the US National Institutes
of Health AND the Nutrition Science Initiative,
aka NuSI.
NuSI was co-founded by nutrition expert and
prominent low-carb advocate, Gary Taubes.
The mission of the study:
Pitting low-fat versus low-carb diets.
Which one is better for weight loss?
Out of the 609 subjects, 305 were randomized
to the low-fat diet group and 304 were randomized
into low-carbs.
Additionally, all subjects were stratified
into different genotype groups.
The hypothesis is that each individual might
perform better on a specific diet that their
genotype favored.
Subjects were also given oral glucose tolerance
tests to see if insulin production levels
have any association to the effects of either
diet.
The subjects at hand were both men and women,
on average roughly 40 years old, and classified
as obese on the BMI scale (33).
Throughout the entire 12-month intervention,
22 instructional sessions led by registered
dietitians were given for each group.
The goal was to educate the participants on
eating habits such as eating whole foods instead
of processed food and mindful vs mindless
eating.
As for the diet, each group were told to limit
either fat or carb intake to 20 grams or fewer
per day for the first 2 months.
Afterwards, they had the opportunity to add
more carbs or fat but only up to the point
where they felt that they can sustain the
diet indefinitely.
Participants were also given random 24-hour
dietary multi-pass recalls, a program that
is essentially myfitnesspal on steroids.
They also had blood lipid profiles and respiratory
exchange ratio changes measured, which can
indicate changes in energy metabolism favoring
fat or carbs.
By the end of the study, the low-fat group
on average consumed 57 grams of fat per day
and the low-carb group went up to 132 grams
of carbs per day.
And finally, the results:
The little things first:
As mentioned earlier, 79% of the participants,
or 481, completed the entire intervention.
There we no significant differences in calorie
intake between both groups.
No significant differences in protein intake
but low-carb did consume a slight 12 grams
more per day.
No significant differences in fiber intake
but low-fat did tend to consume slightly more
due to the diet’s high-carb nature.
No differences in physical activity.
Low-carb group did see greater changes favoring
a healthier cholesterol profile by roughly
5%.
Plus, no significant effects based on genotype
patterns nor insulin level production.
And finally,
At the end of the 12-month program, the low-carb
group lost 13.2 pounds (6kg) and the low-fat
group lost 11.7 pounds.
For a 12-month span, the difference is not
considered statistically significant nor clinically
relevant.
And there we have it.
After a rigorous 12 months, this study shows
that there’s simply no practical advantage
to either diet when it comes to weight loss.
But what’s fascinating about this study
to me is the absence of counting calories.
That’s not to say that calories aren’t
important.
Based on the participants’ reports, they
were still achieving a calorie deficit of
around 4 to 500 calories, inaccuracies not
withheld.
But the fact that they didn’t count AND
achieved a deficit ties the importance of
the other factors in this study: creating
a sustainable approach by having participants
choose their OWN level of carb/fat restriction,
and counseling them to make better food decisions
and eating habits.
Granted, to some, the final tally of 132 grams
of carbs in the low-carb group wouldn’t
exactly be considered a low-carb diet, but
it’s still significantly lower than where
the participants started.
In an interview with Examine.com, Dr. Christopher
Gardner, the lead author, explained the rationale
of this approach.
The goal was to find the lowest level of carb
or fat intake participants could achieve without
feeling hungry.
If hunger was an issue with lower intakes,
that can lead to people jumping off the diet
and revert back to old eating habits.
The goal was to create new eating patterns
that were sustainable without thinking of
it as a “diet.”
ADHERENCE was the goal and something so often
ignored when it comes to dieting that needs
the utmost attention.
I fully agree with the rationale of this study.
Stick with the plan that allows YOU to feel
full, satisfied, and consume fewer calories.
If that means fewer carbs, then great.
If that means less fat, then awesome as well.
As long as the foundation of eating more whole
foods and less processed junk is in order,
which Dr. Gardner also suggests, then everything
else, and everyONE else, is simply noise.
Except protein.
Get your protein.
If you want a more in-depth look at this study,
check out Examine.com’s amazing analysis
and breakdown of it in the link below.
I also wanted to thank them for allowing me
the permission to use their work to support
this video.
You can also check out the study itself in
the link below.
Also, let me know your thoughts on this study
and the whole low-carb/low-fat debate in general.
What’s your take on the matter?
Feel free to also check out some of my merch
and my patreon if you want to further support
study breakdowns like this or all the other
content you might enjoy on my channel.
I know this was a longer video, but as always,
thank you so much for watching and get your
protein!