A study published in August by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (part of the National Institutes of Health) in the journal Cell Metabolism states that when low fat vs low carb diets were compared, a low fat diet led to faster body fat loss by 68 percent. Carb restriction, however, lowered production of the fat-regulating hormone insulin, whereas fat restriction had no observed changes in insulin production. In the study, 19 non-diabetic men and women with obesity stayed in the Metabolic Clinical Research Unit at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland for two extended 24-hour-a-day visits, eating the same food and doing the same activities. Body fat predictions that the researchers had previously simulated matched the data later collected in the study.
My note: Carb-restricted diets regulate insulin production and generally keep blood sugar levels more stable than most low-fat diets would. Cutting carbohydrates is far more effective than a low-fat diet in shedding the pounds, a major Harvard study has found.
Instead, they say people hoping to lose weight should forget about carbs, protein and fat altogether and should focus instead on reducing portion sizes, eating whole, unprocessed foods, and developing a long term eating plan that fits their cultural and life style needs. The results showed that those who embraced the “low-carbohydrate diet” were about two and a half pounds lighter than low-fat diet participants, after a follow-up of at least one year.
The key to successful weight loss was a long term eating plan and effective care of cardio health, said fellow researcher Frank Hu, senior author of the paper and Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. There is growing interest in Mediterranean diets with high levels of fatty foods such as olive oil, fish and nuts as well as fruit, vegetables and whole grains. The Harvard team found that cutting back on fat was a less effective route to weight loss than low-carbohydrate or Mediterranean diets. The take home message from the above study is very simple – overall calorie intake determines the extent of weight loss, however it is achieved. It’s not too late to make some changes to help your waistline and there are plenty of options out there when considering a change in the way you eat. The latest study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in September 2014, involved 148 middle-aged obese people who had no history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or kidney disease.
Participants received individual and group counseling, including sample menus and recipes, but no specific calorie goals. After a year, average weight loss was about 12 pounds for the low-carb group and 4 pounds for the low-fat group.

But there are some lingering questions: What would have happened if the study had continued?
A week after this study came out, an analysis of 48 studies of popular diets (including Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Ornish, and South Beach) was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Find a way of eating that works best for you, something you can stick to for years, since keeping off the lost pounds is the hardest part.
This time a study out of Tulane University divided 148 men and women into two groups: low carb and low fat. The men and women following the low carb approach lost more fat mass, gained more lean body mass and decreased their 10 year risk for heart disease compared to the low fat group.
And protein went from 18% (just a tad more than the average American eats now) to 25% (this number makes me happy as there’s certainly merit to higher protein intakes). But to be honest, I’m not all that impressed with these weight loss differences or the total outcome. First, keep in mind the low carb group didn’t get close to eating as low of a carb recommendation as they suggested.
While 40% of calories is above the recommendation from most, they stressed it was mainly from foods like olive oil and other healthy, monounsaturated fats. Despite these study’s findings, a carb-restricted diet may be a more practical solution to weight loss because of the feelings of satiety that it provides. Filtering through the myths, the pie-in-the-sky miracle cures, the hazardous advice, and getting to the bottom of the issues. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) reviewed 53 randomized clinical trials involving 68,000 participants, and concluded low fat diets are not the best way to lose weight.
The only thing worse than a low fat diet was totally unchanged eating patterns, the researchers concluded. Emerging evidence suggests that not all types of fat are bad – and some can play a role in protecting the heart and reducing weight.
For a year they followed either a moderately low-carb diet (similar to the maintenance phase of the Atkins diet) or a modestly low-fat diet (similar to American Heart Association guidelines). Those are small losses for people who weighed 210 pounds on average, especially in light of the fact that they reported cutting their daily calorie intake by 500 to 750 calories a day for a year.

They cut the proportion of carbs in their diet dramatically, while the low-fat group cut their proportion of dietary fat only modestly (to just under 30 percent of daily calories, which is not very low for fat).
Would participants have done as well if they had not been given fairly intensive counseling? Some people do better by cutting carbs, others by cutting fat—and by eating more protein. Both groups also had similar behavior modification “counseling” to actually change their habits vs. Then for six days, they were fed diets containing 30 percent fewer calories, achieved by cutting either only total carbs or total fat from the baseline diet, while eating the same amount of protein. Researchers stated that more study should be done to assess the physiological effects of low fat vs low carb over longer periods of time. Also sharing evidence-based info on healthy foods, fun recipes, and a unique philosophy on healthy organic living. Still, the two diets keep slugging it out in studies, and low-carb seems to be winning more rounds. The low-carb diet led to greater calorie reduction, so of course it resulted in greater weight loss. Would the low-fat diet have been more effective if it required people to make bigger changes in the way they ate? It’s about making a lifestyle change that you can stick with, not just doing a temporary crash diet for fast weight loss. How would the diets affect the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as kidney disease, cancer, and bone density?
And would low-carb diets be safe and effective in people who have cardiovascular or kidney disease (they were excluded from this study)?

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