I’ve already written a blog post about carb tolerance, but on my way to horseriding I’ve been listening to a great podcast by Danny Lennon with Prof. Christopher Gardner on a recently published paper with the title “Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion” . I would like to give you some insights in the research findings as well as write down some of the thoughts Prof. Gardner expressed in the podcast.
- Purpose: asses if a “low-carb (LC) genotype” or “low-fat (LF) genotype” is predictive of success on a LC or LF diet. Additionally, they wanted to look if there is a correlation between insulin-sensitivity and better response to one of the diet patterns.
- Method: 609 overweight people were randomly assigned to the LC (304) or LF group (305) regardless of their genotype. They recived 22 instructional sessions where they were teached proper eating behaviour like increasing the vegetable intake, buying food from the farmer’s market rather than from the supermarket, proper cooking, mindful eating and have an active lifestyle. Participants were instructed to reduce intake of total fat or digestible carbohydrates to 20 g/d during the first 8 weeks. Then individuals slowly added fats or carbohydrates back to their diets in increments of 5 to 15 g/d per week until they reached the lowest level of intake they believed could be maintained indefinitely. No explicit instructions for energy (kilocalories) restriction were given. The focus was to have a sustainable diet to ensure as much adherence and as less drop out as possible.
- Results: There was no significant difference in weight change between LF diet vs a LC diet, and neither genotype pattern nor baseline insulin secretion was associated with the dietary effects on weight loss.
Some additional information and thoughts
- Even if the study is based on self-reporting, which is kind of error prone, it is a very realistic scenario without absurd macros and/or energy deficits. The emphasis was also on a healthy diet with reduction of highly processed food and refined sugar.
- Even if LC-diets are often prized for their high adherence, there was no significant difference in the drop-outs between LF and LC: 241 and 240 finished out of the 305 add 304 enrolled.
- 10% of the participants gained weight in this weight loss study. It may shock you but it’s quite normal in the real word. These people probably went into the study with lots of psychological and emotional baggage with them. Prof. Gardner suggested that in this case a psychologist is more recommended that a dietician.
- The most successful participants of the weight loss trial reported that the trial helped them change their relationship with food. It had nothing to do with LC or LF.
- What does it mean for you? Prof. Gardner suggested that people who want to successfully lose weight should
- implement healthy food preparation and eating habits
- find out which kind of healthy food satiate them longer
- The healthy LC and healthy LF diets are equally good for losing weight, nevertheless one of the approach may be better for you. Still, science does not know the exact answer why it’s like that.
- Before brainf*cking if you are a LC or LF guy or -even worse- spend money on some dubious gene testing, take time to prepare your meals. Stefan has written a collection of kitchen tricks for the busy ones. Or if you are really struggling, it may be worth hiring a coach.
- Be honest with yourself: do you have psychological issues which may prevent you to reach your goals? Then, do not be afraid to seek out professional help.
- Learn awareness:
- Which food makes you feel satiated, which not? Do you need more time to feel satiated? Then let the fork down inbetween bites or chew properly.
- Eat mindfully: do not watch TV, do not scroll the Instagram feed, do not work. Just eat and enjoy it.
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P.S. If you love high quality but easy understandable science talk about nutrition and traning check Danny’s homepage. He is a really smart guy and hosts the top scientists in the field.