New research from the Stanford University School of Medicine has declared the low fat v. low carb diet debate a draw – with neither diet prevailing in the fight for the best weight loss results. The study, published in JAMA and led by Dr. Christopher Gardner, found that not only did either diet yield greater weight loss success than the other but also that participant’s genetics and insulin levels did not predispose them to better results.
A group of 609 participants were split into two groups – low fat and low carb – and had part of their genome sequenced and insulin levels measured to see if there was a genetic component to how much weight they lost on a particular diet. Neither group was instructed with exactly which foods to eat, but instead were given guidelines on making healthy choices and what their general daily carbohydrate and fat intake should be. At the end of the year long analysis, researchers found that participant’s weight loss success did not correlate to either a low fat/low carb approach nor was there a genetic or insulin level component that predicted a better outcome.
Instead, the study found that the best diet consisted of cutting out unhealthy, highly processed foods, added sugar and refined starches while eating a wholesome diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy sources of proteins (beans, lentils, nuts, seeds) and drinking plenty of water. In other words, the key to maintaining weight loss lies in quality of diet, not just quantity of food or eliminating just sources of high carbs or high fat. Furthermore, learning how to eat mindfully was the most important factor in maintaining long term weight loss rather than an emphasis on a low carb or low fat diet.