Very low-carbohydrate diets work for men and upper body fat

November 12, 2004

Scientists say that low carbohydrate diets, like the Atkins and South Beach Diets, may actually be the best option for men who want to slim. New research, published this week in the Open Access journal, Nutrition & Metabolism, shows that over 70% of men lost more weight and fat on a low carbohydrate diet, despite eating more calories.

Jeff Volek and colleagues, from the University of Connecticut, also show for the first time that a low carbohydrate diet is much more effective in losing fat from the stomach and chest. Upper body fat carries "a greater health risk than fat stored in other regions of the body," say the authors. They found that fat loss in men was three-times greater in the trunk area, when they were on a low-carbohydrate regime compared to the low-fat diet. Nearly all participants in the study (12 of 15 men and 12 of 13 women) lost more fat on their upper body on the low- carbohydrate diet.

Fifteen overweight or obese men, and thirteen women, were randomly assigned to a very low carbohydrate diet or a low fat diet. After fifty days, they were switched to the other diet. 11 of the 15 men did better on the low carbohydrate diet, six lost greater than 10 lbs more on the low carbohydrate diet, and one subject lost almost 25 pounds more. Similar results were found for women although the results were less dramatic.

Volek and colleagues also looked at whether weight and fat loss were affected by what order the diets were done in. Their data seem to favour undertaking a low carbohydrate first, suggesting that those who have concerns about long term 'low carb' diets could follow a low carb diet first followed by a low fat diet.

There is much debate about the health implications of long-term use of low carbohydrate diets. Volek's lab, whose work is the first-ever to be funded in part by the Robert C. Atkins Foundation, has previously shown that low carbohydrate diets improve cardiovascular risk factors.

For more information about low carbohydrate diets read the review by well-known endocrinologist, Samy McFarlane, in Nutrition & Metabolism. Dr McFarlane reviews the new book, 'Atkins Diabetes Revolution', by Mary C. Vernon, M.D. and Jacqueline A. Eberstein, R.N. McFarlane and co-reviewer Surender Arora, M.D. found the book "sufficiently convincing to make us believe that some form of low carbohydrate intervention is worth investigating and should be considered by practitioners. The highly negative un-scientific response of critics, if anything, encourages us in this direction."
-end-
This press release is based on:

Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Gómez AL, Judelson DA, Rubin MR, Watson G, Sokmen B, Silvestre R, French DN, and Kraemer WJ.
Nutrition & Metabolism 2004, 1:12 (9 November 2004)

The article is freely available at http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/12.

BioMed Central

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