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Low-carb diets may be more effective than low-fat diets

Research analysis shows low-carb diets may be more effective in the short term for weight loss than low-fat diets

By Amy Wallace
Low-carb diets may be more effective than low-fat diets
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have found that low carb diets such as Atkins, South Beach and Paleo, have a slight advantage over low fat diets in weight loss. File photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI | License Photo

CHICAGO, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Low-carb diets such as the Atkins, South Beach and Paleo diets may be more effective for weight loss than low-fat diets, according a recent report.

An article published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reported a slight advantage of low-carb diets at reducing weight over low-fat diets and that low-carb diets are relatively safe in the short term.

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Doctors from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona analyzed research from January 2005 to April 2016 looking for possible adverse effects and overall safety, finding that people on low-carb diets lost between 2.5 and almost 9 pounds more than those on a low-fat diet during the same six-month time periods.

"The best conclusion to draw is that adhering to a short-term low carb diet appears to be safe and may be associated with weight reduction," said Dr. Heather Fields, lead researcher on the study and an internal medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic, in a press release.

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The studies did not consistently cite the source or quality of the proteins and fats consumed on the low-carb diets, though researchers found no negative side effects on blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol in the short term compared to other diets.

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"However, that weight loss is small and of questionable clinical significance in comparison to low fat diets," Fields said in a press release. "We encourage patients to eat real food and avoid highly-processed foods, especially processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, deli meats, hot dogs and ham when following any particular diet."

Fields stated that limitations in previous research made it difficult to draw broad conclusions such as the type of weight loss -- muscle, fat or water weight.

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"Physicians must keep in mind that the literature is surprisingly limited, considering the popularity of these diets and the claims of health benefits in the public press," Fields said in the press release. "Our review found no safety issues identified in the current literature, but patients considering LCDs should be advised there is very little data on long-term safety and efficacy."

Researchers acknowledged there are many variables when it comes to the amounts of carbohydrates in various low-carb diet plans.

"As an osteopathic physician, I tell patients there is no one size fits all approach for health," Dr. Tiffany Lowe-Payne, DO, an osteopathic family physician, said in a press release. "Factors like the patient's genetics and personal history should be considered, along with the diet programs they've tried before and, most importantly, their ability to stick to them."

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