Here's the lowdown on low-fat vs. low-carb diets
For decades, health professionals have preached a low-fat diet for health and maintenance of good body weight. Then all of the sudden the same experts said the opposite, that a high-fat trend could be what’s truly good for us.
Could they have been wrong all along and high-fat diets truly are the key to good health and body composition? Well, a recent study conducted at Stanford University published in The Journal of the American Medical Association sheds some light on this topic of great interest to all who pursue better health and longevity.
“We've all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet — it worked great — and then another friend tried the same diet, and it didn't work at all,” said Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine and the lead author of the study. “It's because we're all very different, and we're just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity. Maybe we shouldn't be asking what's the best diet, but what's the best diet for whom?”
In this particular study, researchers wanted to determine which diet is best: low-fat or low-carb. In both diets, they wanted it to be very high-quality fats and very high-quality carbs, which meant both groups had to consume little to no sugar and, if possible, no refined grains while eating as many vegetables as possible. Researchers also pushed both groups in the first two months of the study to eat only 20 grams of fat or 20 grams of carbs. If you don’t know much about diet, this is really challenging to do, but that was the backbone of the study — to see which diet did better, low-fat or low-carb.
The 12-month, $8-million study included 609 participants (236 males and 346 premenopausal female) with a wide range of genetic predisposition for use of fat or sugar for fuel energy with the premise that certain gene types would respond better to a high-fat or high-carb diet. In addition, researches added 22 nutrition coaching sessions with multi-pass 24-hour diet recall (basically randomly asking participants to fill out a 24-hour food diary).
Collectively, 6,500 pounds were lost among the participants of the study. Individually, some people lost 40 to 60 pounds, while others gained as much as 10 to 20 pounds, which led to the conclusion that neither of the hypothesis proved to be true.
No one diet could predict what was more successful or not. We are all created differently and have different genotypes, some low-fat and others low-carb. You can make an argument for both diets, and the more I look into this, three factors always come up:
Get rid of added sugar
Get rid of refined grains
Eat the heck out of vegetables.
We are genetically unique with different ancestries so no one specific diet is going to be
perfect for everyone. That is why the fad diets and magic weight-loss programs are extremely hard to maintain. Instead, a true lifestyle change is needed. Sometimes we have to experiment to see how we respond and how we feel and look (in the mirror, naked, never lies).
As I have been recommending when it comes to dietary food intake, eat whole, unprocessed foods that are anti-inflammatory (vegetables, fruit, nuts, high-quality fats), refrain from refined sugar and sugary drinks, eat enough calories to maintain good body weight and exercise.
This, my friends, is the fundamental strategy that will hold the test of time for GOOD HEALTH, WEIGHT MAINTENANCE and LONGEVITY.