The People's Perspective on Medicine

Low-Carb Diet Leads to More Weight Loss and Better Cholesterol Numbers Than a Low-Fat Diet

New scientific evidence supports the claim that a low carb, high fat diet results in more weight loss and better cholesterol numbers than a low fat diet.

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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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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