There is a study that has been making the rounds the past few days. It touts itself as a meta-analysis designed to answer the question of whether or not low-carb diets are better for weight loss, and also whether low-carb diets are safe.
I’ll cut to the chase. The study concludes low-carb diets are no better for weight loss and yes they’re safe…..but, the authors bizarrely used a carb cutoff of 45% to define “low”.
A diet with 45% of calories coming from carbs is not a low-carb diet and certainly isn’t usefully comparable to one containing 20% carbs (and yet the authors did).
So sadly this paper doesn’t help with the questions it set out to answer, but for what it’s worth, my non-objectively quantifiable take on low-carb diets is that if they help you to control your intake, and you enjoy living that way, I wouldn’t waste a moment worrying about safety. Of course if you don’t enjoy low-carb life, please don’t think there’s no other way to go.
Reading this piece I could help but wonder, where, oh where, is peer review?
Of course that doesn’t mean you should abuse them either.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First the meta-analysis. Out of the gates, it looks like it was funded by the food industry and no doubt, industry funded studies have been shown to be industry positive. That doesn’t mean the results are bunk, but definitely something to consider when evaluating.
The study did what others studies on artificial sweeteners should have done – it looked at them in the context of populations actively involved in weight management and in this case the authors looked at both randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies that utilized low calorie sweeteners (LCS). What they didn’t include were broad sweeping studies that aimed to tie LCS consumption to weight and I’ve argued about why this is important before but briefly, if you simply look at all comers when it comes to artificial sweeteners you run the risk of including folks who justify their Mega-Combo by ordering a diet beverage and/or high consumption may represent a greater reliance on restaurant and processed foods as a whole.
So what did the researchers find? Overall of the 15 randomized trials and 9 prospective cohorts identified, the use of LCS did not lead to weight gain, and in the case of the randomized trials, the use of low-calorie sweeteners in place of high calorie ones did in fact lead to weight reduction.
At the end of the day less sweet from all sources should be the goal as regardless of source, sweet affects our palates and conditions us to foods that likely we ought to be minimizing, but if you’re trying to manage weight, and you can use LCS to replace their fully-leaded counterparts, I’d say the evidence would suggest LCS products are the lesser evil.
This from a small Portugese study involving 12 pre-teen boys with overweight or obesity who were assigned to participate in a structured 5-month soccer program. The program was rather intense and consisted of four weekly 60-90 min sessions designed to get the boys’ heart rates up to > 80% of their HRMax (and confirmed by heart rate monitors). In addition to their 4-6 hours of soccer (the average boy in the study played nearly the full 6 hours weekly), the boys also participated in 1.5-3 hours of regular PE at school for a total of 5.5-9 hours of weekly exercise, the bulk of which was undeniably vigorous. The soccer playing lads were compared with a control group consisting of eight boys of equivalent age from an obesity clinic located in the same area as the school and who also received the schools’ standard 1.5-3 hours of PE.
As far as what was measured, along with some psychological testing was body fat percentage (by means of DEXA), and of course weight.
The results? After 5 months of genuinely heroic amounts of exercise,
“no signiﬁcant changes were observed for the BMI and percentage of body fat“
The good news is that the kids felt better about themselves with improvements to their body image and self-esteem, and I’ve no doubt, they also likely improved their health (blood pressure, lipid profiles, exercise capacity, etc.).
If your kid’s weight is a concern, help it with your kitchens, and then when you’re done washing the dishes, head outside with them to play.
Right out of the gates I need to tell you I’m not anywhere near an expert in gut flora, and so maybe I’m completely misinterpreting the implications of microbiome papers, but here’s my concern.
If diet does, as this and other papers suggest, rapidly and reproducibly alter the human gut microbiome, if we’re considering mucking with our microbiomes to help manage weight, how will our mucking with it ever stick? Meaning it sounds like permanently changing our microbiomes would require permanently changing our diets – but isn’t that the struggle inherent to dieting in the first place? Or would the plan be daily permanent pre/pro-biotic supplements?
I know I have at least a few readers who know a great deal about this topic – would love it if you could weigh in.
By Heather Searl I was sitting right across from them when it happened. I was taking notes while my client conducted the interview. Everything was going well. The participant was definitely in our target audience, she was thoughtful, articulate and engaged with the wireframes we were showing her. And then about 15 minutes into the session […]
Folks, I would like to show an article here that I think exemplifies what is wrong with a lot of people in general! Here is a guy who was dead set against GMO’s (genetically modified foods) the same as some people are bent out of shape about fluoridation of water, immunization shots, climate change, nuclear […]