Orchard Chiropractic Centre - Jersey

Forget the High Carb/ Low Fat Diet- it drives weight gain

Wednesday 30 January 2019

As a healthcare professional at the Orchard Chiropractic Centre, Jersey, I am regularly asked for dietary advice that will assist my patients recovery, either by losing weight to reduce stress on the joints, or simply in an effort to lead a healthy lifestyle. From speaking to my patients I have found that the main reason for sub optimal diet is the fallacious advice that has been pushed on the public for the past 40 years - we've all heard of the high carb/ low fat diet.  In relation to weight gain, the problem with the high carb/ low fat diet is that insulin (the hormone responsible for transporting glucose from the blood to the muscles and other cells) is also the primary driver for weight gain. 

In his article "Stop Counting Calories", Patrick Holford refers to research published in the British Medical Journal showing that avoiding fats as part of a calorie controlled diet is counterproductive. An extract from the article is reproduced below. For the full article follow the link: https://www.patrickholford.com/blog/stop-counting-calories

"definitive study published last month in the British Medical Journal confirms that the lower the GL of a diet, achieved in this study by lowering the amount of carbohydrates, the more energy you burn off through metabolism. In other words you’ll burn off more weight eating a low carb, high fat diet than a conventional low fat, high carb diet despite eating the same number of calories.

The study, co-authored by Professor’s Cara Ebbeling and David Ludwig, Harvard Medical School’s Professor of Nutrition, fed 164 volunteers their ideal calories to maintain their weight, then assigned then to one of three diets – all with the same 20% of calories from protein and total calories – but either 60%, 40% or 20% carbohydrate and conversely 20%, 40% or 60% of calories from fat. This enabled them to measure how many calories of energy their bodies burnt off on the various diets. After five months on the diet trial, those on the low carb, high fat regime burned roughly 250 calories more per day than people who ate a high-carb, low-fat diet, showing that restricting carb intake could help people maintain their weight loss more easily.

What this means is that eating a low carb/low GL diet as opposed to a low fat, high carb diet would be expected to produce a 7lb extra weight loss a year. However, they also found that those on the lower carb, higher fat diets had lower levels of the ‘hunger hormones’ ghrelin and leptin. According to the researchers “If reduction of glycemic load also decreased hunger and food intake, the long term benefits could be even greater.” This is certainly my experience having worked with thousands of low GL dieters who report that they just don’t feel hungry, even on lower calories, as long as they three low GL meals, and two low GL snacks designed to keep their blood sugar even and consequently their insulin production low.

According to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, who was not involved in the research “This study confirms that, remarkably, diets higher in starch and sugar change the body’s burn rate after weight loss, lowering metabolism. The observed metabolic difference was large, more than enough to explain the yo-yo effect so often experienced by people trying to lose weight.” Dr. Mozaffarian called the findings “profound” and said they contradicted the conventional wisdom on calorie counting. “It’s time to shift guidelines, government policy and industry priorities away from calories and low-fat and toward better diet quality.” The authors of the study agree “A low glycemic load, high fat diet might facilitate weight loss maintenance beyond the conventional focus on restricting energy intake and encouraging physical activity.”


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