FitnHealthyMD

Evidence based medical wellness for active people from a doc who walks the walk

Low carb diets really work and are safe for your heart.

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Quick update on the MIND diet: not going so well.  My downfall? Cheese!  I LOVE cheese! My husband, not one to sugar coat, said “For God’s sake Marica, pick something you can do! There is no way you could give up cheese.”  He is right.  I am really good at healthy eating, but cheese…it’s like crack for me!

As promised, I will look at “paleo”.  For those not in the know, the so called paleo diet is one based on what early man (and woman!) would have eaten — meats, fish, fresh veggies and fruit.  Grains and dairy are largely excluded.  (Meaning no flour, rice, milk, cheese etc.) I found a journal article that is ‘paleo-esque’ meaning a study that looked at low fat (standard doctor recommended diet to lose weight) vs a low carb diet (“paleo-esque”) to determine which was more effective in helping patients lose weight.

So the skinny on the study (forgive the pun!): 148 men and women were randomly assigned to either low fat diet (less than 30% of total calorie intake from fat) or low carbohydrate diet (less than 40 gram per day of carbohydrates).  All study participants met with a dietitian weekly for the first month, then had group sessions with the dietitian every other week for five more months. (Key point!) The study followed the participants for a year.  Participants were asked to recall what they had eaten several different times through out the study.

And the winner was?  The low carb diet!  The low carb dieters lost 7.7 pounds MORE than the low fat dieters! In addition the low carb dieters lost fat mass, while at the end of 12 months, the low fat dieters had GAINED fat mass although they too had LOST weight!

But wait there is more! The folks in the low carb diet ended the study with better total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels than those in the low fat diet.  In addition, these same peeps had lower triglycerides.

So what to make of this? To lose weight, and decrease your cardiovascular risk (i.e. risk of having a heart attack) eat low carb. I won’t go out on a limb and embrace paleo (as a physician I don’t know that I can advocate putting bacon on everything) but I definitely think low carb is the way to go.  BUT: I can’t underestimate the role the dietician played in helping people stick with their diets.  Hint–get help for these tough goals!

It still doesn’t help with my cheese addiction, though.

For further info on “paleo” check out Mark’s Daily Apple.  While I don’t always agree with everything he says, and am a bit skeptical sometimes, I still think it is interesting and informational.
cavemanPhoto credit

Author: PookieMD

I am a board certified internal medicine physician. I love medicine and seek to bring evidence based medicine to the fitness and wellness world.

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