Friday, September 09, 2005

Study Finds Controlling Carbohydrate Better

In this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers published their findings in a study designed to measure the impact of a low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet compared with a high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet on ratings of hunger and cognitive eating restraint.

For six weeks, participants (premenopausal overweight women) a low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet or a high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet. At baseline fasting body weight (BW) and an Eating Inventory were conducted prior to start, week 1, week 4 and at the end of week 6.

Participants in the low-carb diet group were instructed to limit their carb intake to 20 grams or less per day for the first two weeks, then to increase carbs by 5 grams per day each week, bringing their daily total to 40 grams of carbohydrate by the last week of the six week study. Other than this restriction, the low-carb dieters were not instructed to limit total food intake.

Participants in the low-fat diet group were given more specific restrictions; they were to limit their caloric intake to between 1500 to 1700 calories per day and to consume these calories as 60% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 25% fat.

The results were interesting:
  • All participants lost weight
  • Relative BW loss was greater in the low-carb vs low-fat group at week 6 - those following low-carb lost 44% more body weight!
  • Without being told to do so, the low-carb dieters reduced caloric intake to an average of 1420-calories per day - the low-fat group surprisingly averaged just 1395-calories per day...meaning the low-fat diet group ate less calories yet lost less weight compared to the low-carb group.
  • Based on Eating Inventory scores, self-rated hunger decreased in women in the low-carbohydrate/high-protein but not in the high-carbohydrate/low-fat group from baseline to week 6
  • Particpants who followed the low-carb diet not only experienced less hunger at the end of the first week and at the end of the study, they reported they had less hunger than they had before they had begun to diet.
  • For both groups, self-rated cognitive eating restraint increased from baseline to week 1 and remained constant to week 6

Both diet groups reported increased cognitive eating restraint, facilitating short-term weight loss; however, the decrease in hunger perception in the low-carbohydrate/high-protein group may have contributed to a greater percentage of BW loss.

If you're searching for a dietary approach that not only allows for weight loss (heck, don't all diets allow for weight loss?) but also provides a level of satiety and satisfaction with food options, consider a controlled-carbohydrate approach. There are many to choose from and with the help of your physician, you can try it and see if it works better for you than traditional low-fat, calorie restricted plans!

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