A study indicates that certain low-carb diets are superior for sustained weight loss
Five low-carb diets with an emphasis on various nutrients and their quality were thoroughly examined by researchers to determine which eating regimens produce the best long-term effects on weight change. Their results emphasize how crucial a high-quality diet is when following a low-carb diet in order to keep a healthy body weight.
Individuals who made it their goal to start eating healthier in the new year might have given a low-carb diet some thought. A low-carb diet has been shown to enhance metabolic health and accelerate weight loss compared to a low-fat diet. On the other hand, not much research has been done on how a low-carb diet affects maintaining weight over the long run.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers recently compared five low-carb diets, focusing on various macronutrient components and their quality, to determine which was superior for long-term weight loss.
Lead author Binkai Liu stated, “Our study goes beyond the simple question of, ‘To carb or not to carb?'” “It dissects the low-carbohydrate diet and provides a nuanced look at how the composition of these diets can affect health over years, not just weeks or months.”
The diets and weights of 123,332 healthy adults between 1986 and 2018 were analyzed by the researchers using data from three sizable ongoing prospective US studies: the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII), and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). The participants’ average age was 45, and 83.8% of them were female. Every four years, each participant gave a self-report regarding their weight and diet.
The five categories of low-carb diets (LCDs) that the researchers evaluated were: total low-carb diet (TLCD), which focused on reducing overall carbohydrate intake; animal-based low-carb diet (ALCD), which stressed animal-based proteins and fats; vegetable-based low-carb diet (VLCD), which focused on plant-based proteins and fats; healthy low-carb diet (HLCD), which focused on plant-based proteins, healthy fats, and fewer refined carbohydrates; and unhealthy low-carb diet (ULCD), which stressed animal proteins, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates from unhealthful sources like processed bread and cereals.
A higher score denotes greater adherence to the prescribed diet. The researchers created an LCD score that ranges from zero to thirty. The main result of interest was the changes in score over four years, which was computed by deducting the scores at the beginning and end of each four-year period. In regards to the participants’ weight change, they took the same action.
Increasing TLCD, ALCD, and ULCD scores were all linked to greater weight gain, while increasing HLCD scores were linked to less weight gain, according to the researchers, who also observed that the results were generally consistent across the three study cohorts. The participants who were under the age of fifty-five, overweight or obese, and/or physically inactive showed the strongest associations. For VLCD, the outcomes varied depending on the cohort. While the relationship was less evident in NHS and HPFS, switching to greater adherence to VLCD was significantly associated with less weight gain in NHSII.
These results point to a potential critical role of low-carb diet quality in long-term weight change. The only diets linked to less weight gain were those that placed an emphasis on high-quality fat, protein, and carbs from whole grains and other plant-based foods.
Co-author Qi Sun stated, “The key takeaway here is that not all low-carbohydrate diets are created equal when it comes to managing weight in the long term,” “Our findings could shake up the way we think about popular low-carbohydrate diets and suggest that public health initiatives should continue to promote dietary patterns that emphasize healthful foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.”
The researchers list a few advantages of their investigation. Specifically, they developed five low-carb diets according to the quantity and quality of macronutrients, which gave researchers a wider range of options when analyzing the relationship between the dietary pattern and weight shift. Additionally, they were able to investigate that association with a fair amount of statistical power thanks to the large sample sizes and extended follow-up. However, measurement errors are likely due to the self-reported nature of the data. Furthermore, because body composition was not measured in the study, the researchers were unable to determine how the diets affected