Short-term, low-carb diets better for weight loss than low-fat diets

Trying to work out the best way to shift those extra festive pounds ready for the New Year? Well, look no further; Mayo Clinic physicians say that low-carb diets are slightly better than low-fat diets for weight loss in the short-term.

Dieting: it is something many people will be considering in the New Year; but the plethora of diet advice available out there can be confusing and contradictory.

That’s why the Mayo Clinic in Arizona set out to see which of the so-called ‘low-carb’ diets in the weight loss market is the most effective and, more importantly, how safe they all are.

Their analysis of some 41 trials that evaluated the weight loss effects of low-carb diets found that individuals lost between 2.5-9 more pounds than individuals who followed a low-fat diet in the short term.

When the low-carb diet was compared with other diets, such as a low-fat diet, it was found to be more effective for weight loss without adverse effects on blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.

"Physicians must keep in mind that the literature is surprisingly limited, considering the popularity of these diets. Our review found no safety issues identified in the current literature, but patients considering low-carb diets should be advised there is very little data on long-term safety and efficacy." Said Dr. Heather Fields, an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic and lead researcher on this study.

“Also, weight loss is small and of questionable clinical significance in comparison to low-fat diets. We encourage patients to eat real food and avoid highly processed foods, especially processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, deli meats, hot dogs, and ham when following any particular diet,” she added.

This is the biggest warning to come out of the research and it’s because when people are following low-carb diets they tend to eat more meat, and this could increase their risk of death from all causes, including cancer, especially if they consume a lot of processed meat.

Finally, Dr. Tiffany Lowe-Payne, an osteopathic family physician, points out that several factors can affect a person's success with weight loss, including genetics, personal history, and their ability to stick to the diet.

"As an osteopathic physician, I tell patients there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health. When you think of what dieters want, and what they need to stay motivated, it is the satisfaction of results. They want to see significant weight loss and fast. For many, a low-carb lifestyle provides the answer they are looking for."

Dr. Lowe-Payne recognizes that carbohydrates make up a considerable part of many people's diets. However, she also highlights that after 6 months, weight loss is virtually the same for individuals regardless of whether they are on a low-carb or low-fat diet.

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