HomeWellnessDietLow-carb diet vs. low-fat diet: Which is better for weight loss?

Low-carb diet vs. low-fat diet: Which is better for weight loss?

A recent study assessed the impact of a low-fat or a low-carb diet on weight change and if genotypes or insulin secretion are related to the dietary effects of weight loss.

The most common environmental factor to weight-related conditions is dietary intake. As a result, dietary intervention remains an extensively recommended treatment for weight loss. Due to the varying body types, there is no particular diet that can be applicable to the entire population. Dietary plans need to be individualized to match the genetic makeup of the individual in question. This is a consequence of varying genotype and the body’s insulin-glucose dynamics. A recent American study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzes the effects of dietary intervention, such as a low-fat diet and a low-carb diet, on weight change. The study also searches for potential links between these dietary impacts and insulin secretion or genotype patterns.

A randomized clinical trial with 609 participants between the ages of 18 and 50 years were included in the study. Each participant was void of any diagnosis of diabetes and maintained a body mass index within the range of 28 to 40kg/m2. The researchers introduced two dietary interventions: a low-fat diet and a low-carb diet. The participants maintained each diet for a 12-month period. Data were recorded at baseline levels, then again at three months, six months, and 12 months. The data collected included information on weight change, insulin secretion, genotype patterns, physical activity, and dietary intake.

The pool of participants averaged an age of 40 years old and consisted of 43% males and 57% females. Following the 12-month experiment, the low-fat diet group experienced an average weight loss of 5.3kg while the low-carb diet group witnessed an average weight loss of 6kg. Within the parameters of the study, no significant correlation between genotype patterns and weight change was identified. There was no notable interaction between the weight loss and insulin secretion as well. Based on the statistical analyses carried out, there was no significant difference between the two types of dietary interventions.

The study revealed inconclusive results pertaining to individualized dietary plans to effectively achieve weight loss goals. Other studies on similar topics have however identified potential links between single nucleotide polymorphisms and weight change due to dietary intervention. Further research is required to appropriately assess current hypotheses using larger sample sizes and a better understanding of the biological connection between genetics and environmental factors such as dietary intake. Such research will highly benefit dieticians and nutritionists to recommend individualized diets for effective treatment of weight-related conditions based on a case-by-case analysis.

Written by Shrishti Ahuja, HBSc

Reference: Gardner, C. D., Trepanowski, J. F., Gobbo, L. C., Hauser, M. E., Rigdon, J., Ioannidis, J. P., . . . King, A. C. (2018). Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion. JAMA, 319(7), 667. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0245

Shrishti Ahuja BSc
Shrishti Ahuja BSc
Shrishti is currently working towards her HBSc degree in Medical Science and English Literature from Western University. She enjoys taking on challenging opportunities that allow her to communicate complex scientific concepts to a variety of audiences. Along with the Medical News Bulletin, she is actively involved in the orientation program at her university, is part of a dance team, and enjoys travelling.


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