Which diet will work for you: Low-carb or low-fat?

The new study, to be published February 20 in JAMA, homed in on genetics and insulin, seeking to discover if these nuances of biology would encourage an individual's body to favor a low-carbohydrate diet or a low-fat diet.

Individual results after a year were quite varied - one person lost 60 pounds, while another gained 20 - but the average weight loss in each group was nearly identical: 11 pounds in the low-fat group, compared to 13 pounds in the low-carb group.

While metabolic and genomic testing aren't good indicators of how efficiently a body loses weight, the researchers warned that in the future, there might be new research that'll bring up better predictors of which diets work best for a person. It all depends on the person - although they haven't yet been able to determine the all important characteristics that determine which camp you fall into.

The Diet Intervention Examining The Factors Interacting with Treatment Success (DIETFITS) randomized clinical trial lasted 12 months and included 609 adults aged 18 to 50 years without diabetes who had a body mass index (BMI) between 28 and 40, which generally generally indicates that the individual is slightly overweight to borderline extremely obese, although BMI is not a ideal measure of a healthy weight. ‘It's because we're all very different and we're just starting to understand the reasons'. "Maybe we shouldn't be asking what's the best diet, but what's the best diet for whom?" said Dr Gardener, who's report elucidated "there was no significant difference in weight change between a healthy low-fat diet vs a healthy low-carbohydrate diet". About half were men and half were women. All were randomised into one of two dietary groups - low-carbohydrate or low-fat.

Over the course of a year, participants were invited to 22 group sessions to help them stick to their diet.

The individuals began by limiting their daily carbohydrate or fat intake to 20 grams for the first eight weeks.

By the end of the study, participants in the two groups had lost, on average, 13 pounds. Some people gained weight, and some lost as much as 50 to 60 pounds. He's also keen for people to eat more "whole foods" too, whether that's a wheat berry salad or grass-fed beef.


No significant interaction was observed between diet-genotype pattern or diet-insulin section with 12-month weight loss.

In the HLF group, 42.6% of participants had the low-fat genotype, while 27.2% had the low-carb genotype. "It's not so much about that food - it's really about [changing] this insane way that Americans eat".

The findings make it less likely that genetics might explain why only some people manage to lose weight on a low-carb diet like Atkins and why others succeed with a low-fat one (even though the vast majority of dieters don't keep off whatever pounds they lose). Neither genetic predisposition nor insulin resistance was helpful in identifying which diet was better for whom, according to the study.

People were remarkably compliant about following their assigned low-fat or low-carb diet.

"It would have been sweet to say we have a simple clinical test that will point out whether you're insulin resistant or not and whether you should eat more or less carbs", he added.

Lard may be low in carbs but it is unlikely to help you lose weight while a high-fat avocado is healthy and nutritious.

"I'm hoping that we can come up with signatures of sorts", he added. I feel we owe it to people to be smarter than to just say "eat less".


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