Time to focus more on diet quality than diet type, study suggests

Time to focus more on diet quality than diet type, study suggests

Time to focus more on diet quality than diet type, study suggests

New evidence from a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine might dismay those who have chosen sides in the low-fat versus low-carb diet debate. Turns out, both won.

The 12-month weight loss study of 609 individuals found the tactic of choosing whole, unprocessed foods and not worrying about calories resulted in similar weight loss for people following both diets.

Reducing either carbohydrates or fats from the diet shaves off excess weight in about the same proportion, claims a new study.

Dr. Frank Hu, nutrition chief at Harvard's School of Public Health who has called precision nutrition a promising approach, says the study wasn't a comprehensive test of all gene variations that might affect individual responses to weight loss diets.

However, because participants in the study did not strictly adhere to their diets (most simply ate whole, "real" foods instead of calculating the exact proportions of fat or carbs they consumed) Lustig notes that it's hard to explicitly claim that genetics weren't a factor in the weight loss. It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods - without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes - lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

Nutritious foods are more satiating, which naturally helps people eat less, and therefore consume fewer calories.

Stanton says that, "Some previous studies that have damned carbohydrates have not taken note of the foods that supplied it".

In the battle between low-carb and low-fat diets, there are only losers. "Maybe we shouldn't be asking what's the best diet, but what's the best diet for whom?" Go for whole foods, whether that is a wheatberry salad or grass-fed beef. There was still, however, vast weight loss variability among them; some dropped upward of 60 pounds, while others gained close to 15 or 20.

Second, they were instructed to curb their intake of added sugars and refined flours - ingredients that studies have increasingly tied to a range of negative health outcomes including weight gain and diabetes.

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Over the 12-month period, researchers tracked the progress of participants, logging information about weight, body composition, baseline insulin levels and how many grams of fat or carbohydrate they consumed daily. First, they were told to "maximize vegetable intake" by eating lot more foods like bell peppers, kale, and collard greens - all of which have been linked to positive outcomes like weight loss and a reduced risk of disease. And eat as many vegetables as you can.

Feller said staying within calorie limits doesn't necessarily mean making good nutrition choices.

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Gardner said numerous people in the study were surprised - and relieved - that they did not have to restrict or even think about calories.

Weight, along with other indicators of health, such as body fat percentage, waist circumference and blood pressure, were monitored for a year.

"It would have been sweet to say we have a simple clinical test that will point out whether you're insulin resistant or not and whether you should eat more or less carbs", he added.

Gardner said it is not that calories do not matter.

Importantly, participants in both studies also ended up eating roughly the same amounts of protein each day. After the second month, Gardner's team instructed the groups to make incremental small adjustments as needed, adding back 5-15 grams of fat or carbs gradually, aiming to reach a balance they believed they could maintain for the rest of their lives. "We really need to focus on that foundational diet, which is more vegetables, more whole foods, less added sugar and less refined grains".

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