Posted by: Hil | July 23, 2008

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

A few days ago, a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that compared the efficacy of low-fat, Mediterranean, and low carb diets over a period of two years.  The study is making big news because of both its large scale and surprising results.  At the end of the two years, participants in every group lost weight and improved their blood lipids, liver function and inflammatory biomarkers.  Even more surprising, the low carb group lost the most weight and had the best improvement in blood lipids.  The relatively small subpopluations of women and diabetics seemed to have the most success with the Mediterranean diet.  The low fat group saw relatively smaller improvements, although many critics have argued that the low fat group wasn’t actually low enough in fat to see real results.  Here is a good summary of the results if you don’t feel like reading the whole article.

Important note:  The participants in the low-carb were encouraged to choose plant sources of protein and fat–they were not chowing down on rib-eye steaks and butter!  The news that plant based low-carb diets are healthy is actually not new…the large scale Nurse’s Health Study already indicated that low-carb diets may actually be protective against heart disease IF protein and fat are obtained from plant sources rather than animal sources.  (The same study indicated that high glycemic load may increase risk of heart disease.)

The researchers’ bottom line?  “Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets are effective alternatives to the low-fat diet for weight loss and appear to be just as safe as the low-fat diet.”  They further state that diets should “be individualized according to personal preferences and metabolic needs.”

In other words:  there is no one-size-fits all way of eating.  Low carb, Mediterranean, low fat, vegetarian, whatever…they all work for some people and they all have pros and cons.  Not everyone has to follow the same cookie-cutter low fat diet.  The important thing is to do what works for you and to make sure that you are making healthy choices within your plan.

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Responses

  1. I heard about that article. Thanks for posting in such detail – very interesting!

  2. Very useful information – thanks!

  3. I’m glad you guys liked the information! I’ve updated the article to link to the Nurses’ Health Study findings on low-carb diets, if you are interested.

  4. very interesting – and i agree, ultimately there is no guarateed fix for anyone, you just have to do what’s good for you i guess 🙂 i don’t think i could ever do an extreme low carb diet – i love my bread/pasta/noodles too much!

  5. […] of dietary fat and health just seemed to be popping up all over the place.  Last Wednesday, I posted about a new study that suggests that a low-fat diet isn’t the only or best way to lose weight […]


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