Low Carb Diets

Anyone interested in losing weight these days has probably either tried or has thought about trying a low carb diet like the Atkins Diet or the South Beach Diet. The popularity of these diets amazes me. I suppose I can see the appeal – Hey, just cut back on pasta, bagels and potatoes and eat all the hamburgers, bacon bits and steaks you want! Krispy Kreme Donuts, which was one of the few success stories of the late nineties, is hitting hard times in part because Americans are now shunning carbohydrates.

The big question is whether the weight that was lost will remain off for two years. It has been documented that a low carb diet does result in greater weight loss after a few months compared to a conventional diet (Foster et al. NEJM 348:2082-2090, 2003), but after one year there isn’t much difference. My prediction is that in a year or two from now there will be a major backlash against these diets. My bet is that the next big trend will be high fiber diets (which makes more sense to me). In future posts, I’ll talk more about the science and mythology of diets.

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2 thoughts on “Low Carb Diets

  1. But IIRC there’s evidence that low-carb diets lead to improved blood lipid profiles. Weight loss is not the only factor to consider.Of course, an increase in dietary fiber is good. But I think “good fats” like those found in nuts are beneficial—I can speak from experience that they certainly cut appetite.

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  2. I’m currently at a meeting on obesity and it seems like saturated and trans-saturated fats are bad news. In a talk yesterday Bruce Spiegelman showed data that these bad fats leads to hyperlipidemia and high cholestoral. Polyunsaturated fats seem okay. As for appetite suppression, rats that are fed a normal chow diet versus a high fat diet, are always fatter on the high fat diet. You might get satieted earlier on fat but it does have twice the energy content per mass than those carbs you seem to dislike.

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