Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Researcher Says "If you have a fat waist, then cut the carbs!"

I admit it, I'm a "journal junkie" - my daily data fix is often found in the usual suspects - JAMA, JADA, AJCN, Archives of Internal Medicne, Diabetes Care, Fertility & Sterility, Nature, BJM, Nutrition, Nutrition & Metabolism, the ACOG's "Green Journal," and more.

The other day I happened upon the British Journal of Obestrics & Gynecology while searching for papers related to various supplements and insulin resistance. The first that popped up was the October 2006 publication of Obesity, waist–hip ratio and hunter–gatherers (free full-text), a review article by Dr. LEP Wood, from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, in Coventry, UK.

It's a fascinating review, with citations I wasn't even aware of, that supports the use of carbohydrate restricted diets in those with "truncal obesity" - that is more fat stored in the middle, than distributed whole body; the "apple" shaped body if you will.

As I read the paper, a number of statements clearly illustrate that no one dietary approach works for everyone, and that for many, a carbohydrate restricted diet is the one best suited to their genetic type.

The full-text paper is worth reading through, it is rich with citations - here I'll share some of the highlights:

Truncal obesity, "is the type of obesity seen in every hunter–gatherer (HG) population around the globe. Such people are intolerant of carbohydrate, especially refined carbohydrate, especially in the excessive amounts typically consumed in affluent societies. In such pure HG communities, rates of diabetes can be as high as 50%, when the 'Western' lifestyle is adopted."

"Quite contrary to the common nutritional dogma of encouraging regular carbohydrates, it is suggested that pregnant women with a high waist-to-hip ratio should be strongly advised to adhere to a low-glycaemic-index diet."

"[Hunter Gatherers] HGs, for instance, are mainly not obese when they live their traditional lifestyle. When such people are exposed to high, refined carbohydrate intake; however, they develop truncal obesity and a vastly increased risk of diabetes—up to 50% in some populations. This tendency to a high WHR and to carbohydrate intolerance is shared by all hunter–gatherer (HG) populations throughout the world: Canadian Inuit, Native Americans, Mexican Indians, Pima Indians, South American Indians, Middle-Eastern Nomads, African Pygmies, Australian Aborigines, Maoris, South Sea Islanders, etc."

"...reduced carbohydrate in the diet has been shown to have beneficial effects in certain circumstances."

"...exercise is an important trigger to the key element of weight control—heat production. Anything, which influences this metabolic process will also affect weight. Thus, dietary carbohydrate in HGs might not only cause the tendency to obesity (and glucose intolerance) by excess calories, but also by a downregulation of metabolism."

"It seems very sensible to suggest, therefore, that women with a tendency to glucose intolerance should limit the total amount of carbohydrate they eat."

"Given the multifaceted nature of insulin resistance, if any single intervention can be shown to make a difference by itself, then that intervention should be worthy of close scrutiny, even if it is a nutrient."

"Much information has come from studying the diet of HGs, which is naturally anti-diabetic."

"However, the message can be put more simply: if you have a fat waist, then cut the carbs!"


  1. Anonymous8:57 AM

    Hi Regina,
    I have been reading your blog for quite sometime and your blog has made me want to try atkins.I am a ovo-lacto-vegetarian and I have about 10-15 pounds to lose,which has slowely creeped up in the last 2yrs.I have a few questions,which I hope you'd answer.

    1)I was thinking about 20gms carb during the induction phase.But I see a few people on as little as 8 gms.How can I decide the # of gms of carbs?

    2)I want to try your little tweak .I use Extra virgin olive oil and safflower oil.IS safflower oil ok?I will get organic eggs,cheese.

    3)Supplements-without knowing my requirements,what supplements would you suggest(other than a multivit)?
    Is Acetyl L-Carnitine and GFT Chromium Picolinate ok for a vegetarian?
    Would I need a multivit w/ minerals? Is fish oil a supplement or you cook with it?

    Thanks for your time

  2. Anonymous10:41 AM

    Pure and unadulterated logic?

    Wow now that's something you don't see very often.

  3. I have been thinking for a while that people who are andriod (apple shaped) are more successful on low carb. Theres a study out there using women that found that as well, I have been trying to find it again. Thanks for sharing, that article!