Low-Carb Beats Low-Fat in a Meta-Study of 17 Clinical Trials

In a new study published in the Journal PLOS ONE, a meta-analysis of seventeen randomized clinical trials provides insight into the relative benefits of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets in terms of weight lost, cholesterol and the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) events. The seventeen clinical trials used for meta-analysis included a total of 1,797 patients over the age of eighteen who all lacked co-morbidities other than dyslipidemia. Each trial randomly assigned patients to treatment groups and included at least eight weeks of follow-up.

Source: Low-carb beats low-fat in a meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials

This also fits well with our understanding of the GI system. When broken down fat progresses through your stomach and hits your duodenum, cholecystokinin (CCK) is released by duodenal enteroendocrine cells. This peptide hormone causes bile to be released, but it also slows the rate of stomach emptying and generally makes you feel more satiated. In other words, all things being being equal (size, calorie content, etc.) a fatty meal will make you feel more full than a meal high in carbohydrates. This is obviously just one component at play, but I think this does make a lot of sense.

The problem is that protein and fat are expensive, but carbs are cheap. It’s cheap because the government heavily subsidizes corn (carbohydrates), and subsequently corn is involved in almost every inexpensive food product (IE high fructose corn syrup is everywhere).

The study was funded by Atkins Nutritionals, a corporation founded by Dr. Robert Atkins for the promotion of low-carbohydrate diets.  The studies included in the meta analysis were not funded by Atkins however.  Which means the studies were cherry-picked…

10 Stubborn Food Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked by Science

Every other week, new research claims one food is better than another, or that some ingredient yields incredible new health benefits. Couple that with a few old wives’ tales passed down from your parents, and each time you fire up your stove or sit down to eat a healthy meal, it can be difficult separating food fact from fiction. We talked to a group of nutritionists and asked them to share the food myths they find most irritating and explain why people cling to them. Here’s what they said.

Source: 10 Stubborn Food Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked by Science

Some of the myths have been covered on their own:

Are some diets “mass murder”?

From low fat to Atkins and beyond, diets that are based on poor nutrition science are a type of global, uncontrolled experiment that may lead to bad outcomes, concludes Richard Smith

Jean Mayer, one of the “greats” of nutrition science, said in 1965, in the colourful language that has characterised arguments over diet, that prescribing a diet restricted in carbohydrates to the public was “the equivalent of mass murder.” Having ploughed my way through five books on diet and some of the key studies to write this article, I’m left with the impression that the same accusation of “mass murder” could be directed at many players in the great diet game. In short, bold policies have been based on fragile science, and the long term results may be terrible.

Source: Are some diets “mass murder”?

A large part of the article is about the Keys “research” in the 1950’s about fat in our diet.  As recently posted – an increase saturated fat food does NOT show increase in fat in the blood.  To claim “mass murder” when there’s no change in heart disease outcomes is overly dramatic.  Science gets better as time goes on to reshape how and why we do things, and there will always be political machinations…

Why Experts Now Think You Should Eat More Fat

According to a new study from the National Institutes of Health, a diet that reduces carbohydrates in favor of fat – including the saturated fat in meat and butter – improves nearly every health measurement, from reducing our waistlines to keeping our arteries clear, more than the low-fat diets that have been recommended for generations. “The medical establishment got it wrong,” says cardiologist Dennis Goodman, director of Integrative Medicine at New York Medical Associates. “The belief system didn’t pan out.”

Source: Why Experts Now Think You Should Eat More Fat

Related reads:

Low Fat Dairy: Won’t Make You Thin or Happy

Low-fat dairy—by which I mean lower-fat versions of typically higher-fat dairy and not any of the naturally low-fat dairy products like ricotta—is a fairly recent phenomenon. The roots of the trend lie with Ancel Keys, a scientist who specialized in the study of dietary fats and their effect on the human body. He conducted a study now known as the Seven Countries Study, in which he compared the diets and lifestyles of the residents of seven countries in North America, Europe, and Asia to find their effects on coronary health. His findings had a profound effect on the understanding of health in the United States; the study was one of the first to point out the correlation between obesity and heart disease, between exercise and health, and between blood pressure and heart attacks.

…OK, now let’s talk about how he was totally wrong about dairy.

…Fat and salt aren’t only for flavor; they’re preservatives, stabilizers, chemical agents that help the living cultures in cheese and yogurt especially to survive and stay fresh.

Source: Low-Fat Dairy Will Not Make You Thin or Happy

Remember that Low Carb is better than a Low Fat diet

Major New Study: Low-Carb > Low-Fat Diet

By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity.

While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat. They actually lost lean muscle mass, which is a bad thing,’ Dr. Mozaffarian said. ‘Your balance of lean mass versus fat mass is much more important than weight. And that’s a very important finding that shows why the low-carb, high-fat group did so metabolically well.’ …

In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in the blood — plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group. Blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, stayed about the same for people in each group.

Source: NY Times, Study abstract

From my own experience, portion control has been responsible for my weight loss.  Exercise accelerated/helped, but it took some time to realize I was “eating it all back” because I would justify the intake because I’d “just work it off”.  Now that I’m approaching my goal, I’m focusing on eating healthier and don’t mind eating more because the calorie deficit has to end or I risk self-cannibalization (eating muscle for energy).