Reduce Glycemic Load Rather than Dietary Fat

From Family Practice News, Juy 2012, Mary Ann Moon, author

Three different diets designed to maintain a recent weight loss were found to exert markedly different metabolic effects independently of their energy content in obese and overweight young adults, a study has shown.

"The results of our study challenge the notion that a calorie is a calorie from a metabolic perspective," said Cara B. Ebbeling, Ph.D., of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Children's Hospital Boston, and her associates.

The three regimens were:

  • a low-fat diet with a high glycemic load and 20% of energy from protein, which reflected conventional recommendations to reduce fat, increase whole grains, and include a variety of vegetables and fruits;
  • a low-glycemic-index diet with moderate glycemic load and 20% of energy from protein, which replaced some grain products and starchy vegetables with other vegetables, legumes, and fruits; and
  • a very-low carbohydrate diet with a low glycemic load and 30% of energy from protein, modeled on the Atkins diet.

Resting energy expenditure and total energy expenditure decreased with all the diets, but the decrease was significantly greater with the low-fat diet.  These two findings suggest that people following the low-fat diet would be more likely to regain weight than those following the other diets. 

These findings suggest that a strategy to reduce glycemic load rather than dietary fat may be advantageous for weight-loss maintenance and CVD (cardio vascular disease) prevention.


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