There’s been a debate for years about which diet is best for weight loss and health: low carb or low fat? In fact when they have been studied head to head, after a year the differences between them are minimal. But what researchers at Stanford University in California noticed was that when you stopped comparing the diets and looked at just the people within each diet group, there was enormous variation.
It didn’t matter whether it was the low carb or the low fat, some people had lost 20kg while others had put on maybe 10kg or more. What was going on? Could it be that some of these people would have been better off in the other group or did they have genes or a metabolic profile that predicted how well or badly they did on a specific diet.
What the researchers did was randomise over 600 people to a high quality diet whose foundation included lots of vegetables, no sugar and no refined carbs. On one side the fats were low and on the other the carbs were low and they didn’t have to count calories. The participants were tested for three genes that were likely candidates for prediction and insulin levels indicating someone was heading for diabetes.
The good news from the study was that sticking to a healthy diet, regardless of whether it was low carb or low fat, reduced calories without thinking about them and made people lose weight. The bad news was that these candidate predictors of success did not predict anything.
Message from the researchers? Stick to a healthy diet, and play with the carbs, fat and protein to try to make it work for you so that you’re not hungry. That way it might be sustainable long term.