There is No Difference Between Low-fat and Low-carb Diets

Researchers found people cutting either carbs or fat lost on average 13 pounds after a year

Researchers also looked at insulin response, also previously linked to diet response, but found this didn't affect which diet worked best either. Those on genetically matched diets seemed to do better.

Over the course of a year, researchers monitored participant progress, logging information about weight, body composition, baseline insulin levels and how many grams of fat or carbohydrate they consumed daily. In the context of these 2 common weight loss diet approaches, neither of the 2 hypothesized predisposing factors was helpful in identifying which diet was better for whom. Both groups also saw improvements in other health markers, like reductions in their waist sizes, body fat, and blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

The average amount of weight lost across both groups over the duration of the 12 months was 13 pounds. The whole group attended nutrition classes, and each person was directed to minimize their intake of sugars, refined flours and trans fats while eating plenty of vegetables and nutrient-dense foods. You might also know of someone who had weight loss success on one of these diets and another who didn't lose a single pound.

For the study, researchers led by Gardner recruited 609 men and women between the ages of 18 and 50 and placed them into one of two dietary groups: low-carbohydrate or low-fat. They divided them into three categories - those with gene variants sensitive to dietary fats, those sensitive to carbs, and those who have no such sensitivities - and gave each one the appropriate diet. Some people follow low-carb diets and some believe low-fat diet could help them to shed the pounds but a new study suggests that both sides are right.

The participants weren't told to cut their energy intake, but that ended up happening anyway: at the end of the 12 months they were eating 500-600 calories less every day, just by focusing on eating nutrition-packed foods. Similarly, a few women whose DNA did not "match" went through a divorce or other upheaval, ate for emotional comfort, gained weight, and made the mismatched group look awful - a reminder that so many emotional, economic, metabolic, social, and other forces affect someone's chance of losing weight that the effect of genes gets lost in the noise.

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Interestingly enough, those who lost the most weight didn't do so by cutting macros. By selecting the type of diet they could stick to, their weight loss, he says, has less to do with whether the diet is low carb or low fat. If you've ever dieted, chances are you'll have followed either a low-carb (Atkins) or low-fat plan.

Gardner said numerous people in the study were surprised - and relieved - that they did not have to restrict or even think about calories.

Meanwhile, Dr. Apovian tells her patients, most of whom have insulin resistance, to eat a diet lower in carbs, particularly grains.

The study published in the JAMA medical journal ‘closes the door on some questions but opens the door to others' added the professor.

This was a randomised clinical trial, which is usually the best type of study to see which of two interventions (in this case diets) works best. "I feel like we owe it to Americans to be smarter than to just say 'eat less.' I still think there is an opportunity to discover some personalization to it - now we just need to work on tying the pieces together". "We have gobs of data that we can use in secondary, exploratory studies", Gardner says in the Stanford article.

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