Researchers Find a Modified-Carbohydrate Diet was Almost Twice as Effective as
a Low-fat, Portion-Controlled Plan
SAN DIEGO, April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Most people who are trying to lose
weight start by counting calories -- even weighing and measuring out precise
portions. But a new study suggests you might be more successful if you focus
on changing the types of foods you eat.
Researchers at Chicago-based Radiant Research found that overweight and
obese adults who followed the principles of The South Beach Diet(TM) (Rodale,
2003) lost more weight and body fat compared to dieters who adopted a low-fat,
"The results showed that by modifying the amount and type of carbohydrates
and increasing lean sources of protein, people were able to lose almost twice
the amount of weight and body fat as people who followed a more traditional
approach of counting calories and limiting portions," said lead researcher
Kevin Maki, Ph.D., who presented his findings today at the Experimental
Biology scientific conference, Abstract # [448.5].
The new study, funded by Kraft Foods, was conducted by Dr. Maki and his
colleagues at Radiant Research -- a research company that specializes in
conducting clinical trials. Kraft announced an alliance with Dr. Agatston in
June 2004 and is committed to supporting research to document the
effectiveness of the South Beach Diet.
Dr. Maki and colleagues evaluated the weight loss of 86 overweight/obese
men and women, ages 18 to 65, who followed two different diets for 12 weeks.
One group was on a traditional low-fat diet and decreased portion sizes to
shave off at least 500 calories a day.
The second group was told simply to eat until hunger was satisfied. They
were instructed to follow a "modified-carbohydrate diet," which was consistent
with the recommendations outlined in The South Beach Diet, developed by Miami
cardiologist Arthur Agatston, M.D. These participants changed the type and
amount of carbohydrates -- replaced refined grains with the slower-digesting
and more nutrient-rich whole grains -- and focused on lean sources of protein.
Impact of Modifying Carbohydrates
The dieters on the modified-carbohydrate eating plan lost significantly
more weight and body fat compared to their counterparts on the low-fat,
portion-controlled diet. They also experienced significant improvements in
triglycerides and the ratio of total to HDL or "good" cholesterol. Research
suggests improving these factors are linked to a reduced risk of heart
"Adopting an eating plan that includes a moderate intake of carbohydrates
with an emphasis on nutrient-rich whole grains appears to enhance weight
loss," Dr. Maki said.
"It's encouraging to see the strong results of this study, which are
consistent with what I have seen in my own practice," said Dr. Agatston. "My
patients are able to enjoy a variety of foods without counting calories or
feeling deprived," he said. "This is more evidence that calories still count,
but that you don't necessarily need to count calories."
The participants in the study who followed the principles of The South
Beach Diet tended to consume fewer calories than those on the
portion-controlled plan, even though they were not counting calories and were
instructed to eat until hunger was satisfied.
"Our results add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that modifying
the quantity and quality of carbohydrates in the diet and changing the types
of food you eat may have important influences on regulating calorie balance,"
Dr. Maki said.
While the reasons dieters on the modified-carbohydrate plan consumed fewer
calories are not fully explained, Dr. Maki said one hypothesis relates to the
satiety value of the meal plan. Participants may have experienced greater
feelings of fullness so they ate less, he said.
The South Beach Diet focuses on the right carbohydrates, the right fats
and lean sources of protein to help people feel more satisfied on fewer
Source: Maki KC, Rains TM, Kaden VN, Quinn J, Davidson MH. A randomized,
controlled clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of a modified carbohydrate
diet for reducing body weight and fat in overweight and obese men and women.
Experimental Biology 2005. Abstract # (448.5).
Experimental Biology is one of the leading scientific conferences in the
country -- attracting more than 16,000 biological and biomedical scientists.
The annual meeting brings together scientists from dozens of different
disciplines, from laboratory to translational to clinical research, from
throughout the United States and the world.