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Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat for Losing Weight

Sep 30, 2014
By Malcolm Thaler

Most diets fail in the long run.

Whatever diet you choose, you’ll probably lose some pounds, but they typically come right back once you stop the diet and resume your normal eating habits. For this reason, health care providers here at One Medical emphasize a sustainable change in eating patterns coupled with exercise.

It’s important to take a mindful approach to eating — have an awareness of when, where, and what you eat that can help you avoid stress eating, binge eating, and the kind of unconscious snacking we all succumb to at work or at home.

But what kind of sustainable eating habits should we aspire to?

One answer comes in a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that looked at the comparative benefits of reducing fat in your diet versus reducing carbohydrates. Unlike many other studies, this study was notable for including a diverse ethnic and racial representation of men and women (average age 45-48) among the participants, so the results are more applicable to the melting pot of society.

The study followed 150 participants for one year, dividing them into two groups: one restricted their carbohydrates to fewer than 40 grams per day, the other restricted their fat to fewer than 30 percent of daily energy intake. Most importantly, overall calories were not restricted.

Here are the key findings:

Those who ate the low-carbohydrate diet, compared to those who ate low-fat, experienced:

  • A greater loss of weight (more than 11 pounds compared to 4)
  • A greater decrease in waist circumference (a difference of one-half inch to one inch)
  • A greater decrease in fat mass
  • Improvement in their cholesterol profile
  • A decrease (compared to a gain in the low-fat group) in laboratory measures of inflammation, an important contributing factor to the atherosclerotic process
  • A decrease (again compared to a gain) in their calculated 10-year risk of having heart disease

It’s promising news for people who have difficulty sticking to restrictive diets. Stop eating those processed, high-carbohydrate foods and sugars, don’t stress out about calories, and shed pounds and improve your overall health.

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Malcolm Thaler

Malcolm enjoys being on the front lines of patient care, managing diagnostic and therapeutic challenges with a compassionate, integrative approach that stresses close doctor-patient collaboration. He is the author and chief editor of several best-selling medical textbooks and online resources, and has extensive expertise in managing a wide range of issues including the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and sports injuries. Malcolm graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, received his MD from Duke University, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Harvard's New England Deaconess Hospital and Temple University Hospital. He joined One Medical from his national award-winning Internal Medicine practice in Pennsylvania and was an attending physician at The Bryn Mawr Hospital since 1986. He is certified through the American Board of Internal Medicine. Malcolm is a One Medical Group provider and sees patients in our New York offices.

The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. 1Life Healthcare, Inc. and the One Medical entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.