Low Carbohydrate Diets: Science Continues to Show Support

A summary article on Science Daily ran yesterday about the benefits for females of using intermittent low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss and decreasing one’s risk factors of developing breast cancer: Intermittent Low-Carbohydrate Diets More Successful Than Standard Dieting, Study Finds.

Incidentally, for anyone interested in scientific literature but not willing to delve into the original research just yet, Science Daily is an excellent way to start reading material with for more credibility than the junk you find on websites like Shine, Prevention or the homepage of MSN.com.

In this particular study, researchers took 115 women and assigned them to one of three groups:

  1. a calorie-restricted, low-carbohydrate group (2 days a week)
  2. an ad-lib low carbohydrate diet (subjects could eat as much protein/healthy fat as they pleased 2x/week)
  3. a standard, calorie-restricted, Mediterranean diet (7 days a week)

I always enjoy studies that include a group that involves some sort of “ad-lib” group, because I find it better represents eating conditions for free-living humans than do diet conditions with all kinds of artificial calorie restraints.

At the conclusion of the four month trial, researchers found that the two carbohydrate restricted conditions led to greater weight loss and fat loss (both groups lost an average of ~9 lbs vs. 5 lbs in the Mediterranean condition), as well as yielding superior benefits in decreasing the prevalence of insulin resistance (22% reduction in the low carb calorie-restricted, 14% reduction for the ad lib group and 4% reduction in the Mediterranean group).

Now to be fair, this is just the summary report from a conference presentation so I can’t exactly go through the methodology to see what kind of diets the two low-carb groups were following the other 5 days of the week. I also don’t know what their definition of “low carbohydrate” was (20 g/day, 50 g/day, <100 g/day, etc).

Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the participants in those two intermittent low carbohydrate groups actually ate fairly low carb for more than just those two days a week. If this were the case, then it would be impossible to say whether the positive outcomes were solely from the 2 days a week of deliberate low carbohydrate dieting, or the fact they reduced their carbohydrate consumption closer to 7 days a week…

But in any case, the important thing to note here is once again, we see evidence of superior body composition results as well as health outcomes when you consciously reduce (*note I did not say eliminate) the amount of carbohydrate you consume in your diet.

The Food Period of Champions

Obviously there are exceptions to this (I’ve written extensively on the subject previously), but the general theme emerges: adopting a lower-carbohydrate lifestyle, at least several days a week, can pay huge dividends in your weight loss and health improvement efforts.

Incorporating a few deliberate low-carbohydrate days into your regular routine can also be a fantastic way to avoid gaining a whack load of weight through the Holiday season, which is fast approaching. In fact, we can take the whole periodic, deliberate low intake philosophy one step further for really explosive results… but that’s a blog article for next week!

Till next time, train hard and eat clean!