Low-fat and low-carb diets equally effective for weight loss, study finds

Whether you follow a low fat or low carb diet has little impact on weight-loss, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in the US. 

The study, which comprised 609 adults between the age of 18 and 50, found that the two dietary approaches were equally effective in achieving weight loss.

The participants, of which 50% were men and 50% women, were randomly divided into two groups – one following a low fat and the other a low carb diet. After 12 months, participants in both groups had lost an average of 13 pounds (0.9 stone).

While there was considerable weight loss variability within each group, researchers found little difference in the average weight dropped between the two groups. 

Contrary to popular belief, researchers also found that insulin levels and genotype patterns had no significant impact on the amount of weight lost. Past studies have suggested that a person’s genetic makeup could make it easier for them to lose weight on certain diets than on others. 

However, the researchers carrying out this study examined participants’ insulation secretion and gene patterns linked to the production of proteins that modify carbohydrates and fat metabolism.

Neither factor was found to have an effect on how much weight a person lost on the low-carb or low-fact diet.

Christopher Gardner, professor of medicine and the lead author of the study emphasised that for both the low-carb and low-fat group, the emphasis was on a healthy route to weight loss that could be maintained in the long-term.

The key, in both instances, was a diet containing less sugar and refined flour and as many vegetables as possible. 

Gardner said: “We wanted them to choose a low-fat or low-carb diet plan that they could potentially follow forever, rather than a diet that they’d drop when the study ended.”