Steak and Kale

Low Carb or Low Fat: Does It Matter?

Two studies this week give sharply contrasting answers to people wondering whether low carb or low fat diets are superior for weight loss.

The first study, a randomized, controlled 1-year study, found that people who were assigned to a low-carb diet lost significantly more weight (12 pounds) than people assigned to a low-fat diet (4 pounds). People in the low carb group also achieved better reductions in cardiovascular risk factors. A total of 148 people participated in this study.

In the second study, investigators analyzed the results of 48 unique randomized trials with a total of 7,286 individuals participating. They found minimal difference between diets that emphasized low-fat or low-carb strategies. The authors concluded that their finding “supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight.”

What are we to think? Frank Hu advises that one size does not fit all, saying,

It’s possible to have a healthy low-fat diet, one rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains, but not loaded with sugar and white bread, and also possible to have a healthy low-carb diet, one not loaded with bacon and sausage. What matters most is that the individual can stick to the diet over the long term.

Losing weight is possible in many ways. But the bigger challenge is finding the best strategy to maintain a healthy weight for yourself over the long term. The answer to that challenge is highly personal, with no magic answers.

Click here to read the randomized study and here to read the meta-analysis. Click here to read more from MedPage Today, here to read more from HealthDay, and here to read more from USA Today.

Steak on the Grill, photograph © Mike / flickr; Kale, photograph © Greg Turner / flickr;

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