Another large study is underway, with results expected soon, that may shed additional light on those factors. 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. It really depends on your body, so if you fail on low-carb, try low-fat, and vice-versa.
"It's because we're all different, and we're just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity". In the context of these 2 common weight loss diet approaches, neither of the 2 hypothesized predisposing factors was helpful in identifying which diet was better for whom.
Gene activity is undoubtedly involved in the process of gaining and losing weight, this study simply shows that these particular predisposing variants (many others have also been identified) are now unable to lead us toward personalized, magic wand diet plans. Those on each diet were told to limit either fats or carbohydrates to 20 grams a day the first 8 weeks, then to slowly phase in the lowest level of intake on either fats or carbs they believed they could maintain.
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The people in the study were all between 18 and 50 years old, and were all overweight or obese but otherwise healthy.
In recent years, the big dietary villain has prominently shifted from fat to carbohydrates, with some studies suggesting high-fat, low-carb diets could be the best way to shave off those pounds and keep healthy.
After two months, they gradually began to increase their daily carbohydrate or fat intake in small quantities to reach a sustainable balance.
POSTSCRIPT: There's still the question of why a low-carb or low-fat diet leads to lower calorie consumption.
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It sure seems like the main point of the study was to compare low-fat vs. low-carb diets, and to test the insulin secretion theory underlying low-carb diets. Those in the low-fat group lost about 11.7 pounds on average, while the members of the low-carb group lost a little more than 13 pounds.
"There was no significant difference in weight change among participants matched vs mismatched to their diet assignment", the researchers wrote.
Although results varied greatly among the participants - one lost 60 pounds while another gained 20 - and 200 participants dropped out before the end of the study, the results at the end were similar. However, in this study, the researchers calculated each person's genotype patterns and found that the type of diet did not make any difference in the amount of weight the individuals lost.
"I had this whole rationale for why these three [DNA variants] would have an effect", said study co-author Christopher Gardner, citing a 2010 study he conducted that suggested genotypes could be the key to weight loss. The volunteers got 22 hourlong classes with dietitians on healthy low-fat diets (eat less oils, fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and nuts) or low-carb ones (reduce cereals, grains, rice, starchy vegetables, and legumes), as well as on the dangers of eating mindlessly. And the general advice to eat more vegetables and cut back on processed foods, added sugar, and refined grains is likewise of longstanding.
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