Low Carb Basics
An introduction the low carbohydrate diets for weight loss.
There is good medical science to show that low carbohydrate diets do cause weight loss and improve health as compared with some other diets.There are also studies that suggest low carbohydrate diets may not be the best diets for weight loss.Critically, there is less evidence that low carbohydrate diets are safe or sustainable in the long-term. It should be noted that there are no populations of people on Earth---today or in history--- who have avoided carbohydrate when they had access to it. On the other hand indigenous peoples of the far north did survive for thousands of years on very low carbohydrate diets of whale blubber and seal meat but crucially, they did not eat this way by choice. Rather, they had no alternative.All of this suggests that low carbohydrate diets are effective and likely safe for weight loss but they may be hard to sustain because of the low variety of foods they offer.
Low-carbohydrate diets have gained significant popularity in recent years as a weight loss strategy. These diets emphasize reducing carbohydrate intake while increasing the proportion of proteins and fats. The rationale behind low-carbohydrate diets is that they help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, promoting fat burning and reducing hunger. Here is an overview of the medical literature that supports low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss:The landmark study by Foster et al. (2003) compared a low-carbohydrate (Atkins) diet to a low-fat (conventional) diet in a randomized controlled trial involving 63 obese participants. The low-carbohydrate group experienced greater weight loss than the low-fat group after one year, with an average loss of 12.9 pounds compared to 6.7 pounds, respectively.A study by Samaha et al. (2003) compared a low-carbohydrate diet to a low-fat diet in 132 severely obese participants with a high prevalence of diabetes or metabolic syndrome. After six months, the low-carbohydrate group experienced significantly greater weight loss than the low-fat group, with an average loss of 12.8 pounds compared to 4.2 pounds, respectively.The A to Z Weight Loss Study by Gardner et al. (2007) compared four popular diets (Atkins, Zone, LEARN, and Ornish) in 311 overweight and obese women. The Atkins diet, which is a low-carbohydrate diet, produced the greatest weight loss at 12 months, with an average loss of 10.3 pounds.Shai et al. (2008) conducted a two-year randomized controlled trial involving 322 moderately obese participants, comparing a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet, and a low-carbohydrate diet. The low-carbohydrate group experienced the greatest weight loss, with an average loss of 12.1 pounds compared to 7.3 pounds for the low-fat group and 10.1 pounds for the Mediterranean diet group.A meta-analysis by Nordmann et al. (2006) analyzed five randomized controlled trials, totaling 447 participants, comparing low-carbohydrate diets to low-fat diets for weight loss. The analysis found that low-carbohydrate diets led to significantly greater weight loss than low-fat diets at six months, but the difference between the diets was not significant at 12 months.Another meta-analysis by Hession et al. (2009) reviewed 13 randomized controlled trials, totaling 1,272 participants, comparing low-carbohydrate diets to low-fat diets for weight loss. The study concluded that low-carbohydrate diets were more effective for weight loss and improving cardiovascular risk factors than low-fat diets at six months, but the difference between the diets diminished at 12 months.The study by Hall et al. (2015) examined the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet compared to a low-fat diet in 19 obese participants under tightly controlled conditions. The low-carbohydrate diet resulted in greater body fat loss than the low-fat diet, even when the diets were equal in calories.While low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to be effective for weight loss in numerous studies and meta-analyses, it is essential to consider individual preferences, dietary adherence, and long-term sustainability when choosing a weight loss plan. Different diets may be more effective for different people based on their individual needs and preferences.In conclusion, the medical literature supports low-carbohydrate diets as an effective weight loss strategy for some individuals. However, it is important to consider other factors, such as individual preferences, dietary adherence, and long-term sustainability, when choosing a weight loss plan.References:Foster, G. D., Wyatt, H. R ., Hill, J. O., McGuckin, B. G., Brill, C., Mohammed, B. S., ... & Klein, S. (2003). A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(21), 2082-2090.Samaha, F. F., Iqbal, N., Seshadri, P., Chicano, K. L., Daily, D. A., McGrory, J., ... & Stern, L. (2003). A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(21), 2074-2081.Gardner, C. D., Kiazand, A., Alhassan, S., Kim, S., Stafford, R. S., Balise, R. R., ... & King, A. C. (2007). Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA, 297(9), 969-977.Shai, I., Schwarzfuchs, D., Henkin, Y., Shahar, D. R., Witkow, S., Greenberg, I., ... & Tangi-Rozental, O. (2008). Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(3), 229-241.Nordmann, A. J., Nordmann, A., Briel, M., Keller, U., Yancy Jr, W. S., Brehm, B. J., & Bucher, H. C. (2006). Effects of low-carbohydrate vs low-fat diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166(3), 285-293.Hession, M., Rolland, C., Kulkarni, U., Wise, A., & Broom, J. (2009). Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. Obesity Reviews, 10(1), 36-50.Hall, K. D., Bemis, T., Brychta, R., Chen, K. Y., Courville, A., Crayner, E. J., ... & Chung, S. T. (2015). Calorie for calorie, dietary fat restriction results in more body fat loss than carbohydrate restriction in people with obesity. Cell Metabolism, 22(3), 427-436.