A low-carbohydrate diet got a big boost from a head-to-head trial against a low-fat diet. About 150 men and women were randomly assigned to follow either a low fat diet or a low-carb diet with the same number of calories. The trial lasted for a year, during which nearly 30 people dropped out.

Contrary to popular belief, the low-carbohydrate, higher-fat regimen resulted in greater weight loss. Those on the low-fat diet lost about 4 pounds during the year, compared to roughly 12 pounds lost by those on the low carb diet.

In addition, cardiovascular risk factors improved more on the low-carb diet, with increases in beneficial HDL cholesterol and reductions in triglycerides. The ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, an important predictor of risk, fell more among those eating a low-carb diet.

The investigators conclude that restricting carbohydrate may be an option for people wanting to lose weight and reduce their risk of heart disease.

[Annals of Internal Medicine, Sept. 2, 2014]

There have been some criticisms of this trial suggesting that the low-carb and low-fat labels are inaccurate (that the diets weren’t nearly as strict as some experts would have liked). Nonetheless, the recommendation to cut back on refined carbohydrates such as flour and sugar seems like pretty sensible advice to us.

You may be interested in more information about the low-carb approach to eating. We recently interviewed Dr. Eric Westman about the benefits of a low-carb lifestyle for health as well as weight control. Our discussion with him lasted an hour and included calls from radio listeners.

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