Low-carb, Mediterranean diets best for weight loss

July 17th, 2008 - 1:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 17 (IANS) Low-carbohydrate and Mediterranean diets may be just as safe and effective as medically prescribed ones for weight reduction. In a two-year study, 322 moderately obese people were randomly assigned either a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet or a Mediterranean calorie-restricted diet or a low-carbohydrate diet.

Although participants actually decreased their total daily calorie intake by a similar amount, net weight loss from the low-fat diet after two years was only 2.9 kg, compared to 4.4 kg on Mediterranean diet, and 4.7 kg on the low-carbohydrate diet.

“These weight reduction rates are comparable to results from physician-prescribed weight loss medications,” explained Iris Shai, the lead researcher.

The low-fat diet reduced the total cholesterol to HDL ratio by only 12 percent, while the low-carbohydrate diet improved the same ratio by 20 percent.

Lipids improved the most in the low-carbohydrate diet, with a 20 percent increase in the HDL (”good”) cholesterol and, 14 percent decrease in triglycerides.

The two-year study is also significant because of the relatively large number of participants coupled with a low drop-out rate; 95 percent were in the study after one year and 85 percent were still participating after the second.

Ben Gurion University, Nuclear Research Centre, Dimona, Israel, Harvard University, University of Leipzig and University of Western Ontario, Canada collaborated in the study.

The findings have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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