Low-carb diet helps sus­tain weight loss: study

Muscat Daily - - FEATURES -

A diet low in car­bo­hy­drates could help obese peo­ple main­tain their weight loss by in­creas­ing the num­ber of calo­ries their bod­ies are able to burn, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts.

Pre­sent­ing their find­ings at the in­ter­na­tional Obe­sity Week con­fer­ence in Nashville, in the US state of Ten­nessee last month, doc­tors said a low-carb diet could al­low for­merly over­weight pa­tients live a health­ier life by keep­ing the pounds off long term.

The con­ven­tional treat­ment for obe­sity, which costs health ser­vices hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars each year, treats all calo­ries alike - sim­ply eat less and your weight will come down.

But sev­eral stud­ies have shown that this calo­rie-deficit ef­fect tails off longer term as an in­di­vid­ual's me­tab­o­lism slows to con­serve en­ergy, mak­ing weight loss harder.

A team of re­searchers at Bos­ton Chil­dren's Hos­pi­tal tried a new ap­proach, com­par­ing the ef­fects of di­ets vary­ing in car­bo­hy­drate to fat ra­tio over a 20-week pe­riod.

They tri­alled 234 over­weight adults who had a body mass in­dex (BMI) of 25 or higher and put them on an ini­tial weight loss diet for ten weeks.

Those who achieved the tar­get weight loss were then ran­domly as­signed di­ets vary­ing from 60 per cent (high) to 20 per cent (low) car­bo­hy­drate.

Par­tic­i­pants on the low-carb diet burnt as many as 278 calo­ries a day more than those on the high-carb reg­i­men.

Writ­ing in The BMJ med­i­cal jour­nal, the au­thors said this ef­fect, if sus­tained, "would trans­late into an es­ti­mated 10kg weight loss af­ter three years".

They said the dif­fer­ence in calo­ries burnt could be es­pe­cially use­ful among peo­ple with high in­sulin pro­duc­tion - those suf­fer­ing from di­a­betes or pre-di­a­betes - as it might help de­lay or off­set hor­monal changes that in­crease hunger.

"These find­ings show that all calo­ries are not alike to the body and that re­strict­ing car­bo­hy­drates may be a bet­ter strat­egy than re­strict­ing calo­ries over the long term," David Lud­wig, an en­docri­nol­o­gist at Bos­ton Chil­dren's Hos­pi­tal and study coau­thor, told AFP.

"Diet com­po­si­tion in­de­pen­dent of calo­ries has pro­found ef­fects on hor­mones, me­tab­o­lism and even the work­ings of our genes. These ef­fects can make weight loss eas­ier or harder, and at any weight lower or raise risk of chronic dis­ease."

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion says global obe­sity has tripled since 1975 and for the first time in hu­man his­tory there are more deaths linked to be­ing over­weight than mal­nu­tri­tion.

Kata­rina Kos, se­nior lec­turer in di­a­betes and obe­sity and the Univer­sity of Ex­eter, said the study raised ques­tions over how the body metabolised car­bo­hy­drates and whether it did so dif­fer­ently to other food groups.

"Note­wor­thy is that the ba­sic metabolic rate was no dif­fer­ent be­tween par­tic­i­pants of the three di­ets and it re­mains un­clear how to ex­plain the dif­fer­ence of total en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture," said Kata­rina, who was not in­volved in the study.

"I am con­fi­dent how­ever, to con­tinue to rec­om­mend a low car­bo­hy­drate diet to peo­ple with pre-di­a­betes."

Obe­sity Week 2018 brought to­gether more than 5,000 ex­perts from around the world.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion says global obe­sity has tripled since 1975

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