A two-year study led by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) reveals that low-carbohydrate and Mediterranean diets may be just as safe and effective in achieving weight loss as the standard, medically prescribed low-fat diet, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In the two-year study, 322 moderately obese people were intensively monitored and were randomly assigned one of three diets: a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet; a Mediterranean calorie-restricted diet with the highest level of dietary fiber and monounsaturated/saturated fat; or a low-carbohydrate diet with the least amount of carbohydrates, highest fat, protein, and dietary cholesterol. The low-carb dieters had no caloric intake restrictions.
Although participants actually decreased their total daily calories consumed by a similar amount, net weight loss from the low-fat diet after two years was only 6.5 lbs. (2.9 kg) compared to 10 lbs. (4.4 kg) on the Mediterranean diet, and 10.3 lbs. (4.7 kg) on the low-carbohydrate diet.
“These weight reduction rates are comparable to results from physician-prescribed weight loss medications,” explains Dr. Iris Shai, the lead researcher.
The low-fat diet reduced the total cholesterol to HDL ratio by only 12 percent, while the low-carbohydrate diet improved the same ratio by 20 percent.
Lipids improved the most in the low-carbohydrate, with a 20% increase in the HDL (“good”) cholesterol and, 14% decrease in triglycerides.
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