A diet low in carbohydrates (low carb) can contribute to weight loss. However, it has now become clear that not all forms of low-carbohydrate nutrition are equally suitable when it comes to achieving a healthy body weight in the long term.
A recent study involving experts from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health examined how different low-carbohydrate diets change weight in the long term and how the source and quality of macronutrients influences this relationship. The results are published in the journal “JAMA Network Open”.
Effects of low-carbohydrate diets
Until now, it remained unclear whether there was a connection between low-carbohydrate diets and the long-term maintenance of a healthy body weight, the researchers report. In addition, there has been little research into the difference the source and quality of the macronutrients consumed make.
In the new research, data from three large prospective cohort studies with a total of 123,332 participants were analyzed to find out how weight changed with different diets over a period of four years.
The effects of five different low-carbohydrate diets were examined: a diet with generally low carbohydrates, an animal-based low-carbohydrate diet (focus on animal protein and fat), a plant-based low-carbohydrate diet (vegetable proteins and fats) and a healthy low-carbohydrate diet (low refined carbohydrates, but vegetable proteins and healthy fats).
It turned out that the different forms of low-carbohydrate diets studied can have different effects on weight.
This diet is best
For example, a healthy low-carbohydrate diet, in which participants paid attention to the intake of high-quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates from whole grains and other healthy plant-based foods, was associated with significantly reduced weight gain over a longer period of time.
On the other hand, if the participants ate a low-carbohydrate diet that included a lot of proteins and fats of animal origin or refined carbohydrates, this resulted in those affected experiencing faster weight gain, the experts explain.
People who eat a low-carb diet with an emphasis on plant-based proteins and healthy fats have a better chance of avoiding excessive weight gain. The study makes it clear that the quality of a low-carbohydrate diet significantly influences long-term change in weight.
A diet that is low in carbohydrates but contains high-quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates from whole grains and other plant-based foods appears to be particularly beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight in the long term. (as)