Low-carb, Mediterranean diets said to work

July 17, 2008 at 12:53 AM
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BEERSHEBA, Israel, July 17 (UPI) -- Low-carbohydrate and Mediterranean diets may be just as safe and effective in losing weight as the standard low-fat diet, Israeli researchers say.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel, and the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, Israel, intensively monitored 322 moderately obese people. The study participants were randomly assigned one of three diets: a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet; a Mediterranean calorie-restricted diet with the highest level of dietary fiber and monounsaturated/saturated fat; or a low-carbohydrate diet with the least amount of carbohydrates, highest fat, protein and dietary cholesterol. The low-carb dieters had no caloric intake restrictions.

The study, which was done in collaboration with researchers at Harvard University in Boston, The University of Leipzig, Germany, and the University of Western Ontario in Canada, found participants decreased their total daily caloric intake by a similar amount, but net weight loss from the low-fat diet after two years was only 6.5 pounds compared to 10 pounds on the Mediterranean diet and 10.3 pounds on the low-carbohydrate diet.

"We believe that this study will open clinical medicine to considering low-carbohydrate and Mediterranean diets as safe effective alternatives for patients," Dr. Iris Shai of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev said in a statement.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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