The results from a diet study comparing low carb, Mediterranean, and low fat diets made the news the other day. As always, the results are not easily interpreted. Just look at the headlines this particular study inspired:
- Long-Term Diet Study Suggests Success Is Hard to Come By
- Diet Plans Produce Similar Results
- The Never-Ending Diet Wars
- Diet Debate: 3 Top Plans Go Toe to Toe
- Study: Low-carb diet best for weight, cholesterol
- Low Carb Just as Good as Low Fat Diet
- Low fat diets ‘not as effective for weight loss’
- Low-Carb and Mediterranean Diets May Equal Watching Fat Intake
- Healthy Fats May Increase Weight Loss
- Low-carb, Mediterranean diets said to work
- Unrestricted Low-Carb Diet Wins Hands Down
- Best diet depends on desired reults
- Similar weight loss on 3 different, popular diets
- Med diets ‘as effective’ as low-fat diets
- Diet Experiment Shows Dieting Not So Easy
- Healthy Diets Have Advantages Despite Insignificant Weight Loss
If I hadn’t seen it, I would not have believed that all these headlines refer to the same study!
So what did the study accomplish? The weight loss was not significant over the two years the study covered so it’s not much of an inspiration to someone that has a lot of pounds to shed.
The “low calorie” groups (Mediterranean and low fat) were allowed 1500 (women) and 1800 (men) calories. This was not a starvation experiment. The low carb group had no calorie restriction.
The resulting weight loss was highest for the low carb group, but still modest (14 pounds after two years). To me this is not surprising as:
The low-carbohydrate, non–restricted-calorie diet aimed to provide 20 g of carbohydrates per day for the 2-month induction phase, with a gradual increase to a maximum of 120 g per day to maintain the weight loss.
Apparently, the intent was to maintain rather than lose more weight as 120 grams of carbohydrates is too high for most people for weight loss.
While this study may be helpful in improving the status of low carb diets, it will take a long time before the “experts” will stop pushing for “low fat/healthy grain/saturated fat is bad for you” diets.