Low Carb and Hi-Carb Diets the Same?

A new study reports that low carb and high carb diets work equally well for maintaining weightloss.  What the study does not address is body composition, which may be more important for long term weight maintenance than body weight alone.  It is a well documented fact that the higher your lean body mass (muscle tissue),  the more calories you burn. Muscle takes a lot of calories to support. An added benefit of muscle is that it gives men a stronger, more masculine look, and in women, firmer curves. Higher protein diets have gotten a bad rap as they are commonly lumped into the category of “low carb” diets, such as the once popular Atkins diet. However, a diet that is high in protein, i.e., 30% by calories or higher, combined with the controlled intake of complex carbs, e.g., yams, rice, beans, oatmeal, etc., and restricted in fat (less than 25% of calories) is a very healthful diet that will not only aid in lowering total bodyweight, but aid in maintaining  bodyweight and favorable body composition for the long term.  Higher protein diets are made easier by incorporating a shake such as Lean Body into your daily diet. Here’s the full article:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Low-carb and high-carb diets work equally well for maintaining weight loss, Australian researchers report.

People had the same success in keeping off the weight they’d lost after sharply cutting their calorie intake for 3 months if they followed a low-carb (also called high-protein) diet or a high-carbohydrate regimen for the following year, Dr. Elizabeth A. Delbridge of the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in Victoria and her colleagues found.

Some studies have suggested that high protein diets may be a more effective way to lose weight short-term than high carbohydrate diets, Delbridge and her team note in their report. But there’s less evidence on which approach might be better for helping people to keep off weight they’ve lost, and whether the two diets have different effects on heart health.

To investigate, Delbridge and her team assigned 141 men and women who’d completed the weight-loss phase of the diet to a year on a diet in which 30 percent of their calories came from protein, or one consisting of 15 percent protein. Both groups also were instructed to keep their fat intake below 30 percent of total calories, and to focus on reducing saturated fat.

The study participants had lost 16.5 kilograms (36.4 pounds), on average, and only regained 2 kilograms, or about four pounds, over the following year.

While all the study participants saw their blood pressure go down as they lost weight, average blood pressure went up in the high-carbohydrate group during the weight maintenance phase, but the high-protein dieters were able to sustain their blood pressure reduction.

While people found it easy to stick to the high protein diet, Delbridge and her team say, the low-protein dieters “struggled to consume the recommended amount of carbohydrate (55%) and to limit their protein intake to 15%.”

But the low protein group still managed to keep their protein intake at about 22 percent of their calories, significantly below the 30 percent maintained by the high-protein dieters. And there was no significant difference between the two groups in the amount of weight they kept off.

The findings show, the researchers conclude, that “free-living overweight and obese people” (as opposed to those studied in an inpatient clinic, for example) were able to stick with recommended diet and keep off the weight they had lost for 12 months.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2009.

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2 Responses for Low Carb and Hi-Carb Diets the Same?

  1. Paul


    January 16, 2010 1:36 pm

    Hey there Lee,

    Have you read the study personally? Many studies which test “low-carb” diets have carbohydrate intake at upwards of 30%.

    To give you an idea of how wrong 30% is, with a 2000-calorie diet, during the weight-loss phase of Atkins you’re allowed to eat 40 grams of carbohydrate, maximum, or about 6%.

    Earlier studies like Dr. Gardner’s tested Atkins and several other popular diets and found that patients lipid profiles, blood pressure and all other vital signs improved substantially more than the other diets, and the amount of weight lost was greater than those of the other dieters. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/297/9/969

    (That’s not to say that Atkins is the end-all, be all of low-carb dieting – there are many better-scientifically backed and thorough regimens out there, like Protein Power).

    Here’s an example of some other shenanigans ‘researchers’ have been guilty of: http://www.theheart.org/article/1033837.do

  2. Paul


    January 16, 2010 1:42 pm

    The other caveat is that the study would have to specify what kind of maintenance plan the trial participants were put on, because I understand that this study was largely concerned with how people ‘keep it off.’

    Obviously if you’re predisposed to weight gain, you can’t tell people to have as much soda as they want afterwards and expect a positive result.