The obsession over carb-cutting has ebbed a bit in the past year as the benefits of healthy fats like coconut and avocado have become better understood. But if you’re trying to lose weight, science is leaning another way.
When participants in a recent government-led study cut back the calories from fat in their diets, they lost weight 68 percent faster than those who cut back their calories from carbohydrates.
“[I]nterestingly, study participants lost even more body fat during the fat-restricted diet, as it resulted in a greater imbalance between the fat eaten and fat burned,” lead author Dr. Kevin Hall said in a press release. “Our data tell us that when it comes to body fat loss, not all diet calories are exactly equal.”
But the benefits of cutting carbs, which are most commonly found in starchy foods like potatoes and wheat-based products like cereals and baked goods (where they’re often bundled with that other metabolic culprit, sugar), were still clear in the new study. The carb-restricted dieters had lower levels of insulin, which is important to those who may be pre-diabetic and trying to not become insulin-resistant.
“These findings counter the theory that body fat loss necessarily requires decreasing insulin, thereby increasing the release of stored fat from fat tissue and increasing the amount of fat burned by the body,” Hall said.
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The study was small, just 19 obese adults who did not have diabetes, done by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. But knowing which kind of calories to cut could be a good first step for the more than two-thirds of American adults who are overweight or obese, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“This NIH study provides invaluable evidence on how different types of calories affect metabolism and body composition,” said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers. “The more we learn about the complicated topic of weight loss, the better we can find ways to help people manage their health.”