Lose weight and keep it off with a low carbohydrate diet
Research published one week ago (Ludwig, 2018) ( 1 ) confirms that eating more fat and less carbohydrates helps the body burn more calories.
This study backs the claims of the ketogenic diet, which is a low carb, high fat diet (Read more about the: Ketogenic Diet) that it is an effective way to lose weight and not regain it.
The study involved a group of 164 adults (aged between 18 and 65 years), all of them with a Body Mass Index over 25 (meaning that they were either overweight or obese). They were assigned at random to one of three types of diet with different content of carbs, which they followed for 20 weeks, the diets were:
- High Carb (60% of the daily calorie requirements).
- Moderate Carb (40%).
- Low Carb (20%) and 60% from fat.
The protein content was the same percent value in all diets, and the energy content of each of these diets was adjusted so as to keep weight loss to no more than 4.4 lb. (2 kg).
The results show that for every 10% decrease in carbohydrate input to the daily calorie requirements, the energy burned by the participants increased by 52 Cal. ⁄ day.
Those following the Moderate carbohydrate diet burned on average 91 Cal. ⁄ day vs. those following the High Carb diet.
Even more calories were burned by those following the Low Carb diet: 209 Cal. ⁄ day.
Take home point
Eating less carbohydrates (withour modifying the caloric intake) increases the amount energy your body burns.
Hunger hormone changes
Hormone levels also changed: Ghrelin and Leptin were lower in those eating the Low Carb diet in comparison to those eating the High Carb diet.
Ghrelin is released into the blood when by the stomach, when it is empty and travels to the brain. There, it acts on a control centre in the brain called the hypothalamus and makes you feel hungry. It aso lowers energy expenditure and promotes accumulation of fat in your tissues. So lower ghrelin levels may inhibit apetite, make you burn more calories and prevent fatty deposits.
Leptin on the other hand is released by the body's adipose tissue (fat cells) in the body. It drops when you fast and increases when you eat. Maybe lower levels of this hormone in those eating the Low Carb diet indicates an improvement in leptin sensitivity. People with "the greatest declines in leptin levels after weight loss have the lowest risk for weight regain", which is a another benefit of the lower carbohydrate diet.
So, what does this mean?
Eating a High carb diet makes the body burn more calories, and this could lead to an extra 20-pound weight loss for an average man over the course of three years. Because, if you burn more energy while eating the same amount of calories and you will have to get it from somewhere: your fat stores, therefore you will lose weight.
So it isn't only counting calories (the participants in this study ate the same quantity of calories) it is where they come from that counts.
Metabolizing calories from fat or carbohydrates (sugars, refined starchy foods) is the key: eating processed carbs increases your levels of insulin, and this makes the body burn less calories -and store the sugars as fat.
Triglycerid levels increased as carbohydrate content grew (So High Carb participants had higher levels of triglycerid fat in their blood than the Low Carb group) and HDL (or "good" cholesterol) dropped which is another negative side-effect of eating a high carbohydrate diet.
What remains unclear however is what causes all of these effects: the lower Carb content? or the higher fat content?
In case you are wondering what types of food were included in the Low Carb diet, it had fruit, legumes and vegetables, ensuring a good input of healthy carbohydrates and fiber. And it had no grains or added sugar.
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