Healthy Diet Promotes Weight Loss Rather the Genetics

Image via Caiaimage  Adam Gault  Getty

Image via Caiaimage Adam Gault Getty

For decades, two diets have ruled the roost when it comes to weight loss.

Gardner discusses the results of the study in the video below. A team from Stanford University School of Medicine set out to discover which is better - low-fat or low-carb - and discovered that, actually, neither is. If you think of something as a "diet", you'll eventually fall off the wagon.

"We've all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet - it worked great - and then another friend tried the same diet, and it didn't work at all", said lead author and professor of medicine Christopher Gardner.

"It's because we're all different, and we're just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity".

Companies that develop gene-based diets told science news site STAT the genes Dr Gardner tested for aren't the only ones that can influence weight loss, and other personal info - such as blood types - are also important.

Researchers recruited 609 adults, aged 18 to 50 with a body mass index (BMI) of between 28 and 40, from around San Francisco.

"Unfortunately, it still remains unclear which diet is the best for weight loss, and who the true demons really are ... carbs or fat", she says.

The low-fat group was initially encouraged to cut down to 20g a day of fat, and the low-carb group to 20g a day of carbohydrates.

After the second month, they were instructed to make incremental adjustments as needed, adding back 5-15 grams of fat or carbs gradually and aiming to reach a balance they believed could be maintained for the rest of their lives.

POSTSCRIPT: There's still the question of why a low-carb or low-fat diet leads to lower calorie consumption.

Before the study started, the volunteers ate an average of 87 grams of fat and 247 grams of carbs a day.

They say the differences from previous study findings may be because this study stressed the importance of eating healthy whole foods, rather than eating any food so long as it was either low-fat or low-carb. But there was no link whatsoever between what diet they were on and the tested genes.

Confused whether to follow a low-fat diet or a low-carb diet to shed weight?

At the end of the year, people on the low-fat diet lost an average of nearly 12 pounds, compared with about 13 pounds for the low-carb diet. However, there was a lot of weight loss variability among people for each type of diet, which suggests that what works for some people won't necessarily work the same way for others. Some of the participants lost as much as 60 pounds, while others even gained weight.

Researchers found that both diets can work - but also that they can't.

Note that the study population was unique in being very healthy, without significant comorbidity, and with access to high-quality food, which may not reflect the typical overweight or obese patient.

"Eliminating refined grains, added sugars and maximizing vegetable intake in both groups seems to suggest that steering individuals toward either a low-fat or low-carb diet is not as helpful as the diet quality", Sheth, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email. The most successful dieters, regardless of which group they were assigned to, credited their achievement to a reframed relationship with food - that is, they began eating more mindfully, cooking at home more often and focusing on whole foods.

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