Obesity is a rising problem that is increasing on a yearly basis all over the world. It commonly increases a person’s risk for higher cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and many other health problems. Just a few days ago, we saw a year long study published in a peer-reviewed journal that was done comparing the differences between low-carbohydrate diets vs. low-fat diets.
Although there’s already plenty of studies that have been done on low-carbohydrate diets, I thought this one cemented the view quite well on high fat and low-carb diets in perspective of weight loss, general health, and overall risk factor when it comes to cardiovascular disease. Most other studies don’t include very many people, but this one covers quite a substantial amount of participants where almost half of the participants were African American.
The good news about this study is that it was funded by American tax money – through the National Institutes of Health. None of the authors have any financial ties to the meat industry or food industry in general, which gives a great scientific backing to the information found.
In this study, low-carb was considered anything under 40g of carbs a day. Low-fat was defined as less than 30% of total calories coming from fat, with less than 7% saturated fats. Both groups received dietary counseling throughout the trial to make sure they were able to stick to their plan.
The study showed that participants in the low-carb groups that they tested lost more weight than those in the low-fat group. Overall, waist sizes came down more in the low-carb group, and general health increased in the low-carb group compared to the low-fat group.
Not only was there a significant weight loss difference, but the actual fat mass and inflammation of the low-carb group was decreased more than the low-carb group. On average, the low-carb group saw a 1.5% increased fat mass loss.
At the end of the year, the low-carb group saw:
- Lower Waist Sizes
- Significantly Lower Lean Mass Loss
- Lower Fat Mass
- Lower Inflammation
This study aimed not to just measure the weight loss aspects of low-carb, but also the health benefits. We saw that those in the low-carb group actually had lower cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease at the end of the 12 month study. In fact, the people in the low-carb group were at a significantly lower risk assessment for heart disease according to the 10-year Framingham risk score.
Total cholesterol levels were reduced by 0.44 mmol/L for the participants in the low-carb group. Triglycerides were also down by 0.16 mmol/L, and HDL (good cholesterol) increased by 0.18 mmol/L.
At the end of the year, the low-carb group saw:
- Lower Total Cholesterol Levels
- Lower LDL Cholesterol Levels
- Higher HDL Cholesterol Levels
- Higher Total-HDL Cholesterol Ratios
- Lower Triglyceride Levels
- Lower Blood Pressure
Besides measuring the amount of weight loss and cholesterol levels, but they also measured general feelings and averse reactions of the participants.
What they saw in the low-carb group was:
- Less Constipation
- Less Fatigue
- Less Headaches
- Less Diarrhea
- Less Heartburn
- Less Gas
The perception gained from this study is that living on a low-carb diet is significantly better quality of life than those that are going through the low-fat dieting phases.
Researchers chose 148 obese people who did not report any history of cardiovascular disease in their family. Participants ranged between the age of 22 and 75 with a body mass index of 30 to 45. They were then randomly assigned (by a computer, stratified by sex) to either group A (low-carbohydrate) or group B (low-fat).
During the one full year, participants were allowed to go to counseling sessions and a nutritionist to make sure that they were meeting their macronutrient intake values.
The researchers took in-depth analysis of blood and measurements at 3, 6, and 12 months intervals. The participants on the low-carb diet had lost more weight than those on the low-fat diet. At 12 months in, those in the low-carb group actually lost an average of 7.7 pounds more than those in the low-fat group.
Considering that the majority of participants did not exercise throughout the study, this is quite substantial! The participants were instructed to keep the same levels of activity as they had before, which also shows that exercise was not the reason of this increased weight loss. In fact, the funny thing is, is that the low-fat group tended to have a higher activity level than those in the low-carb group.
Overall, blood levels of fats that show as predictors for cardiovascular disease decreased more in the low-carb group. Researchers wrote that the low-carb diet was more effective for both weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than those dieting in the low-fat group.
What are your thoughts about this? News to you, or does it just cement what you already believed? Let us know in the comments below!