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. Proponents of high-carbohydrate diets advocate that carbohydrate-restricted diets have a negative impact on testosterone levels, on insulin, IGF-1, as well as other hormones. However, most of the research has been made on subjects who restricted carbohydrate intake for a few days. It takes from at least two weeks to up to a couple of months for the body to be fully adapted and efficient on metabolizing fat as the primary source of energy.
Think about it, there are a lot of enzymes involved in the process of metabolizing fat and these have to increase in number to support the new metabolism.
On the other hand, Jeff Volek and Steven Phinney have researched carbohydrate restricted nutrition and its impact on health and physical performance for more than 2 decades. Jeff Volek along with other researchers has conducted a study on 20 normal-weight men which have been divided into two groups of 12, respectively 8 individuals. The first group of 12 men shifted from their diet consisting of ~48% carbohydrates (% of total calories per day) to a diet consisting of ~8% carbohydrates. They were basically maintaining the same exercising routine they had before starting the experiment. Conversely, cortisol, thyroid hormones, as well as glucagon are stimulators of lipolysis . There are four other studies that the authors of the research consider to be done on keto-adapted individuals, which are relevant to the carbohydrate-restricted regimen where the subjects have been keto-adapted for a period of several weeks. Again, studies made on carbohydrate-restricted diets that follow subjects for only a few days are far to be called relevant. Both groups also had similar behavior modification “counseling” to actually change their habits vs. That’s not enough for a person to get keto-adapted (efficiently burn fat to produce energy, instead of using carbohydrates for energy). Their protein intake shifted from ~18% to ~30%, while the fat intake increased from ~32% to ~61%.
Thus, they were mostly consuming a diet which consisted of: ~58% carbohydrates, ~16% protein, and ~26% fat. In my n=1 experiment I noticed the same changes (lost 5% of body fat and slightly gain lean mass). This study shows that there are no negative effects on hormonal levels when humans are adapted to a very-low-carbohydrate diet. Low levels of insulin in the context of a keto-adapted person is a powerful promoter of fat break-down because fat becomes the primary fuel of the body. Changes in Body Composition During Weight Reduction in Obesity Balance Studies Comparing Effects of Fasting and a Ketogenic Diet. Effect on body composition and other parameters in obese young men of carbohydrate level of reduction diet. Capacity for moderate exercise in obese subjects after adaptation to a hypocaloric, ketogenic diet.
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