Low-Carbohydrate Diets Have Best Results And Are Easiest To Maintain
December 9, 2011

Low-Carbohydrate Diets Have Best Results And Are Easiest To Maintain

Low or no-carb diets are popular but many dieters find the constant starving feeling untenable and soon find themselves off the wagon and back to their previous habits. However, British researchers have discovered that perhaps a less intensive regimen may be equally effective.

Michelle Harvie, a research dietician at the Genesis Prevention Center at the University Hospital in South Manchester, England found that women who essentially gave up carbs for two days and ate normally the rest of the time dropped about 9 pounds on average, reports Linda Carroll for MSNBC.

This is in comparison to the 5 pounds lost by women who cut back to around 1,500 calories every day, according to a report presented at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

“We came up with the idea of an intermittent low-carb diet because it enables people to still have foods that are very satiating,” said the study´s lead author Harvie, “Also, there´s a lot of evidence from other studies showing that restricting carbohydrates has the same effect as restricting energy.”

Three diets were compared by the researchers through four months for effects on weight loss and blood markers of breast cancer risk among 115 women with a family history of breast cancer.

They randomly assigned patients to one of the following diets: a calorie-restricted, low-carbohydrate diet for two days per week; an “ad lib” low-carbohydrate diet in which patients were permitted to eat unlimited protein and healthy fats, such as lean meats, olives and nuts, also for two days per week; and a standard, calorie-restricted daily Mediterranean diet for seven days per week.

Results of the study found that both intermittent, low-carbohydrate diets were superior to the standard, daily Mediterranean diet in reducing weight, body fat and insulin resistance, reports Jeannine Stein for the Los Angeles Times.

An average of 9 pounds was reduced in weight and body fat with the intermittent approaches compared with 5 pounds using the standard dietary approach. Insulin resistance reduced by 22 percent with the restricted low-carbohydrate diet and by 14 percent with the “ad lib” low-carbohydrate diet compared with 4 percent with the standard Mediterranean diet.

Women in the intermittent dieting groups also showed improved results than daily dieters in the levels of insulin and leptin that have been linked with breast cancer risk, Harvie said.

Harvie emphasizes that there was nothing exotic about the diet and it could be safely practiced at home by merely cutting back on carbohydrates two days a week and eating sensibly the rest of the time.

Feel free to eat protein and healthy fats on the two low carb days, Harvie adds, but skip bread, pasta, root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and parsnips to get to the 50g limit.

The diet allows for one piece of fruit on the low carb days. Other foods on the menu include: nuts and green, leafy vegetables, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant and cauliflower.

The study was presented this week at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center-American Association for Cancer Research San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.


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