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Does Your Diet Choice Matter For Weight Loss?

Does what diet you choose matter for weight loss? I think we can all agree that most diets, most not all, aim to help you do 1 of 3 things:

  1. Lose Fat
  2. Gain Muscle
  3. Improve Your Health

Those 3 things pretty much sum up why people go on diets or change their eating habits. So the question that I wanted to begin to dive into this week is:

Does it matter what diet or nutrition plan you choose for weight loss?

When I say weight loss, I mainly mean any weight. Whether fat or muscle. Mainly because most folks don’t have the ability to measure what they are losing (unless you come to BFP where we have the World Class Inbody 270 Body Composition Analyzer that tells you how much muscle you have as well as fat).

I’m really excited to dive into this because a really solid study came out recently that did 3 things which make it stand out:

  • It had a ton of people in it (over 600)
  • It tracked them over a long period of time (12 months)
  • It regulated and monitored their nutritional regime pretty tightly

In most weight loss studies, these three aspects aren’t as well controlled so there are always so many “what ifs”. One issue that I have with this study is that it is funded by an organization that advocates for low carbs. By this I mean they conducted and theorized that low carbs diets are superior to most others. So, I’m sure they were hoping for some specific findings however, based on the results, it seems that they did not pull the stats they wanted from the study and reported the results with an unbiased approach.

WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT?

In this particular study, the authors compared a low fat vs. low carb diet for weight loss. During the first 2 months of the study, the low carb group was only allowed 20g of carbs per day and the low fat group only allowed 20g of fat per day. I think we can agree that those numbers are pretty low for the average American.

Once they hit month 3, they were allowed to start increasing their daily carbs or fats but were instructed to keep it as low as possible but be able to maintain. The average intake of fat was 42g per day and average carb intake was 96.6g per day. Both groups were instructed to “maximize vegetable intake … minimize intake of added sugars, refined flours, and trans fats; and … focus on whole foods that were minimally processed, nutrient dense, and prepared at home whenever possible.”

SO, WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?

At the end of the 12 month period, the low fat group had dropped 11.7lbs and the low-carb group had dropped 13.2lbs. Pretty much the same regardless of the diet. They also looked at insulin production throughout the study and found that regardless of insulin production, being on a low carb or low fat diet did not matter for weight loss success.

Both groups were able to improve certain health markers (BMI, body fat percentage, waist circumference, blood pressure, and fasting insulin and glucose levels), although no significant differences were seen between groups.

So far, there weren’t any major differences in results of the 2 groups. There were actually a few differences:

  • The low fat group had a more significant drop in LDL cholesterol.
  • The low carb group had a significantly higher increase in HDL cholesterol
  • The low carb group had a more significant drop in triglycerides

It’s important to note that during the study, total energy expenditure each day (total calories burned) was not very different between groups so, it wasn’t like one group exercised more than the other.

WHAT DOES THIS STUDY TELL US?

Regardless of whether it’s low fat or low carbs, when the diet is based on whole foods, and the focus is weight loss, it doesn’t matter (and other research shows this as well) whether you go low fat or low carb.

In the study mentioned, calories were almost identical for both groups. That is important to note. When calories are controlled for, most diets stack up very similar. Regardless of what it is!

You get to be the chooser of your diet! You can actually decide which approach or mix of approaches will work best for you and lead to consistency. Consistency is by far the most important aspect of eating in a way that suits your goals. If you can be consistent with nearly any nutritional plan, similar to how they were in the study, you can lose weight! The same goes for gain muscle as well, although that will require a little more attention to detail.

What About My Friend Who Went Paleo or Went Keto and Dropped 50lbs!?

Honestly, more than likely, that friend lowered their calories. I hate to say it and I know some folks will disagree but most times, when people go from eating a poor diet to a diet based in whole foods, they can eat a lot more and still bring in less calories, as the study above shows us.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, feel free to email or comment below!

Thanks,

Coach Joe Rouse



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