|Tuesday, July 1st 2004|
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In a six-month study by Dr. Will Yancy and colleagues at Duke University in Durham, N.C., participants on the low-carb plan lost more weight and body fat than those on the low-fat diet. They also cut the number of fat particles, or triglycerides, in their blood and raised their level of HDL ("good") cholesterol more than the low-fat dieters. The latter group, however, had a greater decrease in total cholesterol.
Weight loss on the low-carb diet was 11.7 kilograms, versus 6.3 kilograms on the low-fat plan.
The low-carb group reported more adverse effects such as constipation and headaches, but fewer low-carb dieters dropped out of the study than low-fat dieters.
"This diet can be quite powerful," says Yancy, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke. "The weight loss surprised me." However, he says, "Over six months the diet appears relatively safe, but we need to study the safety for longer durations."
He also cautioned that, long-term, it isn't known if the low-carb diet could result in bone loss, kidney stones or elevations in LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels.
The study involved 120 obese but generally healthy people and was funded by an unrestricted grant from the Robert C. Atkins Foundation.
In a similar study at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, participants on the low-carb diet had larger decreases in triglyceride levels and smaller drops in good cholesterol than people on the low-fat diet.
At the six-month mark, the low-carb group had lost more weight than the low-fat group, but by one year, both groups had lost about the same amount of weight (three to nine kilograms).
The low-fat group, however, continued to lose weight from six to 12 months, whereas the average weight in the low-carb group remained steady after six months.
The study involved 132 obese adults, most of whom had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease.
Both studies had weaknesses, such as difficulty in tracking food intake because participants prepared and ate their meals at home.
Dr. Walter Willett, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, says that despite these limitations, "We can no longer dismiss very low-carbohydrate diets."
Carbohydrates per Serving: 30.12 - Carbohydrates per Serving minus Fiber: 2.52
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