This week, the New England Journal of Medicine released a report suggesting that low-carb and Mediterranean-style diets may be more effective than low-fat, calorie-constricted diets. The study was conducted on 322 moderately obese adults over a two-year period. It was funded, in part, by the Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Foundation. All participants had access to nutrition counseling, during which they were counseled to eat the highest quality versions of permissable foods.
I’m not surprised by these results. So many studies over the past five years have repeatedly proven that low-fat diets simply don’t work in the long term. Our bodies need fat, especially ‘good’ fats from nuts, seeds, avocado, etc. This is where the Mediterranean diet comes in–it’s chock full of healthy fats, whole grains, and lean meat such as fish. Likewise, some people’s bodies don’t need a lot of carbohydrates. Many people following strict low-fat diets turn to refined breads, pastas, rice, etc. because they are low in calories and in fat. If their bodies aren’t programmed to need as many carbs, though, this is turned into fat.
So those who don’t do well on a low fat diet may need more fat, less carbs, or a combination thereof.
Also note that some people who do very well (lots of energy, lots of weight loss from the belly area) on a lower carb diet may be sensitive or allergic to a grain they were previously eating, such as wheat. Consuming allergens causes inflammation, fatigue etc.–so if you’re tired and bloated and that is cured by a lower carb diet, that may be the reason. To discover if allergens are the culprit, you should do a two-week elimination diet. Contact me for more details.
Update: Check out what Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and New York Times columnist) had to say about the study. He argues that the study says less about good weight loss plans and more about traditional theories around saturated fat being bad for you.