Are low-carb diets good for weight loss?

2022-06-20 0 By

In the 1970s, low-carb diets were all the rage.Dr. Atkin’s Diet Revolution book claims that carbohydrate restriction is a “high-calorie way to stay slim forever.”Carbohydrates are found in breads, grains and other grains, fruits, vegetables and milk.They are also found in ultra-processed fast food, cakes, chips and soft drinks.Today, low-carb diets are promoted as a way to lose weight and fight heart disease and diabetes.But how do these claims fit with the latest research?A new review of the evidence found that long-term low-carb dieters weigh up to a kilogram (about 2 pounds) less than other dieters.However, the review concluded that there was no evidence of any additional health benefits from a low-carb diet.In fact, if you’re on a low-carb diet, you need to pay close attention to your diet to make sure you’re getting enough essential vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other phytonutrients.What did the reviewer investigate?The Cochrane review included 61 randomized controlled trials (the highest level of evidence) involving nearly 7,000 overweight adults.About 1,800 people have type 2 diabetes.It excludes people in a healthy weight range.The reviewers compared weight loss diets with different carbohydrate content: low-carb diets.This includes a very low-carb or ketogenic diet (less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day or less than 10 percent of total carbohydrate energy per day) and a low-carb diet (50-150 grams of carbohydrates per day,Or less than 45% of total energy from carbohydrates) a “balanced” carbohydrate diet (150 grams or more of carbohydrates per day, or 45-65% of total energy from carbohydrates).Above: This is an example of a very low carb, low carb, and balanced carb day meal plan.Portions vary between meals to keep the total kilojoules roughly the same.Note that the reviewers grouped the first two low-carb diet categories together.What did they find?The reviewers found that among overweight adults (but without type 2 diabetes), those who followed a low-carb diet for three to 8.5 months lost an average of one kilogram more than those on a balanced carb diet.However, when they made sure the two groups had the same energy intake restriction by offering food or meal plans, the difference was about half a kilogram.In long-term weight-loss interventions lasting one to two years, the difference in average weight loss between a low-carb diet and a balanced carb diet was less than one kilogram.In the trial, the average weight loss of any diet group varied widely, with some losing less than a kilogram and others losing about 13 kilograms (28 pounds).Studies of adults with type 2 diabetes found greater initial weight loss on a low-carb diet than on a balanced carb diet: 1.3kg over three to six months.However, in longer interventions lasting one to two years, there was no difference.In the group studies that included the maintenance period at the end of the weight-loss intervention, there was no difference in weight loss among adults with and without type 2 diabetes.There were no significant differences in other health measures, including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar control or constipation risk.They found no significant clinical differences in outcomes based on the extent of the participants’ carbohydrate restriction.Overall, the review suggests that whether you prefer a low-carb or balanced carb diet, you can lose weight on both.Monitoring nutrients in low-carb diets Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient.Your body uses it to generate energy to power your muscles, brain, lungs and other important processes.Healthy foods that contain carbohydrates – breads, cereals and other grains, fruits, vegetables and milk – are rich in other important nutrients, especially dietary fiber, thiamine, calcium and folic acid.A low-carb diet can also lower the levels of these nutrients if not carefully planned.So how do you make sure you’re getting enough?Here’s what to look out for — and some low-carb and high-carb options.Dietary fiber is needed to keep the gut functioning properly and promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.Low carb sources: spinach, fresh and frozen mixed berries, almonds, broccoli High carb sources: whole wheat bread, apples, chickpeas, sweet potatoes.Thiamine or vitamin B1 is needed to fuel the body’s tissues and metabolize carbohydrates.Low carb sources: trout, tuna, sunflower seeds, beef, yeast extract High carb sources: brown rice, black beans, whole wheat bread, yogurt.Calcium is needed to build strong bones.Low taxi sources: hard cheese, canned salmon with small bones, almonds, hard tofu High carb sources: yogurt, milk, soft cheese.Folic acid is essential for growth and is used to make DNA, your genetic code.Adequate intake is especially important for women because folic acid is needed to prevent neural tube defects in babies during pregnancy.Low carb sources: green leafy vegetables, avocado, broccoli, peanuts High carb sources: whole wheat bread (folic acid added to Australian bread flour), fortified whole wheat cereals, brown rice, oranges.Ultimately, if you like carbs and want to lose weight, you can.Plan to lower your kilojoule and carbohydrate intake by cutting out ultra-processed, energy-intensive, nutrient-poor (junk) foods while still getting carbs from healthy foods.