Recent headlines suggesting low-carb dieters were more likely to re-gain weight than low-fat dieters resulted from misinterpretation of a study presented earlier this month at a major conference on obesity. In fact, the study showed no difference between the two groups of dieters. The real “enemy” revealed by the study was junk food consumed after subjects had lost weight.
According to Catherine LaCroix, editor in chief of LowCarb Living magazine, the study presented earlier this month at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity was widely misreported. “A review of the data showed there was absolutely no difference in weight re-gain between the ‘low-carb’ and ‘low-fat’ groups,” said LaCroix. “So we talked to Suzanne Phelan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Human Behavior at Brown University, who presented the study. She admits that those headlines proclaiming ‘low fat beats low carb’ were ‘somewhat misleading.’”
Phelan presented data gathered from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). The data showed dieters who had lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year regained weight when they increased fat consumption, decreased carbohydrate consumption somewhat, and increased total calories over and above what they had been eating to lose the weight.
According to LaCroix, only a small percentage of subjects in the NWCR database were even using a low-carb approach, and because the subjects were self-selected and the data self-reported, the data may not statistically represent the general population.
According to Carol-Jane Segal-Isaacson, EdD, RD, Assistant Professor of Health, Behavior and Nutrition at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, however, NWCR researchers revealed the source of extra fat and calories wasn’t butter, oils or red meat – the items one might expect would account for a higher fat intake on a low-carb plan – it was “junk food.”
Segal-Isaacson, at the conference to present results of another study (with data from over 1,300 low-carb subjects) found that eating foods with added sugar was the greatest predictor of weight gain. Participants in her study, known as the CCARBS study, who did best were those who controlled their carbs best, ate slightly more protein than the other groups, and who ate a lot of high-fiber vegetables, especially dark leafy greens. She points out that those who lost the most weight had the lowest calorie intake. Segal-Isaacson feels either plan, low-carb or low-fat can work. “Calories count, but controlling carbs does work, too.”
LaCroix said the widely-documented popularity of low-carb diets in America starts with their initial impact. “The success rate of low-carb dieting is what has created this phenomenon,” she said. “People of all ages really do lose weight quickly and easily without feeling hungry. But what these studies prove, and what we, as the nation’s leading publication for people living the low-carb lifestyle, advocate is the importance of developing healthy eating habits for life. Nobody stays thin -- or healthy -- eating junk food. As you add back carbohydrates, they need to come from complex sources like whole grains and vegetables, not from refined sugar.”
A detailed article on both of these studies was posted today on the magazine’s Website: www.LCLmag.com.