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August 2nd, 2010
04:56 PM ET

Low-fat, or low-carb? That is the question

Over the years there's been a lot of debate between low-fat and low-carb diets- which one is the healthiest for you? Which one works the best? Now a study out of Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education, finds that both diets help people lose weight, but the low-carb diet seemed to raise the HDL or good cholesterol in the body.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers followed 300 people for two years. Some were given a low-carb diet to follow, others a low-fat. In addition all participants underwent behavior therapy programs. All were taught about goal settings, how certain things trigger people to over eat and why it's important to keep track of weight and diet.

Investigators found that both groups lost almost the same amount of weight, around 11 percent the first year and 7 percent the second year. Both groups also had identical changes in blood pressure, bone density and body fat percentages. But those in the low carb groups found their HDL or good cholesterol levels were higher than in the low-fat diet participants, suggesting that the low-carb diet could be better for those with lower HDL levels.

Dr. Gary Foster, lead author of the study, and director of Temple's Obesity Center says, "We weren't too surprised about the identical outcomes of both diets." But Foster notes "There have been concerns for years that a low-carb diet could have a number of ill effects on the body, but I think what this shows is that some of those concerns are unfounded. In the end, dieters should concern themselves more with making those behavioral changes than with which diet they choose."


soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Lincoln Brigham

    Note that the USDA is still trying to stick to the "low fat" mantra that they've been pushing for decades.

    August 2, 2010 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • trainwreck

      theyre probably pushing low-fat because thats always been proven in studies to be the better diet unlike the dangerous high protein diets which are not healthy in the long term

      August 4, 2010 at 00:39 | Report abuse |
    • John Woodward

      Your diabetic body is not your friend when it comes to diets. It is my opinion, most any diet will cause you to initially cause you to lose weight until strangely your body figures out that you must be on a diet, and changes metabolism to match whatever food intake you are consuming.

      August 11, 2010 at 17:33 | Report abuse |
    • justme

      Ah, the old "eat less and exercise more" mantra...if it were that easy, we wouldn't have an obesity problem. It's ALL about carbs, folks, and anyone who's maintained a lower-carb way of eating will swear by it. The more carbs you eat (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruit, sweets), the more insulin your body produces (or if you're diabetic, the more you have to inject). Insulin is a fat-storing hormone, that's one of its primary purposes. Focus on lean meats, green veggies, eggs, nuts, and cheese. Fewer carbs, less insulin, the weight will come off.

      August 16, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
  2. loretta Goldstein

    Low fat, healthy carbs and lots of vegetables and fruit. Portion control is important. I follow it and keep my weight normal.

    August 2, 2010 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rex

      You could keep your weight normal with any diet that had the number of calories you currently eat. I'm guessing you have never been obese, as well.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
    • Marnie

      Unless you're diabetic...

      August 3, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
  3. nonovyerbeezwax

    I really need to follow a low ANYTHING diet. I am basically morbidly obese. Its hard because Im so alone and my only friends are Ben & Jerry.

    August 2, 2010 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melone

      Hello, When I am trying to eat healthier, one thing that works for me is to list a few of my worst "habits" and eliminate one or two that I won't miss. Permanently. After a short while, the bad habit is gone, and when I'm ready, I choose another one.

      For example, if you put sugar in your coffee/tea, try enjoying it without the sugar or with just a tiny amount. You'll get used to the new flavor and not really miss the sugar. Or if you like to drink soda, get a really nice water filter, and start enjoying glasses of clean, fresh water. You like to snack on ice cream? Try freezing non-fat or low-fat yogurt and eating that instead. Slow changes... tiny steps.... after awhile, you'll be eating much healthier.

      August 3, 2010 at 08:31 | Report abuse |
    • SteveBob

      Non: get off mommy's computer, now. SpongeBob is on.

      August 3, 2010 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      That's hilarious....I hope you are not serious... :p

      August 3, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • A THOUGHT FOR YOU

      I am truly sorry you feel that way. Here's a thought that has helped me a bit from time to time:

      "Feeling like there is no good way is still very different from actually having no way."

      August 3, 2010 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      If you need encouragement and support, you could always drop me an email – bostonmary30@yahoo.com

      You don't need to be alone. The world is too big and we are all interconnected to lend a shoulder for each other.

      August 4, 2010 at 03:11 | Report abuse |
  4. carol

    what ever happened to a good old fashioned low calorie diet? low carbs and low fat? and what do they mean by "fat" and "carbs" – beef fat and sugar? dairy and pasta? butter and sugar? if the "fat" is olive oil, isn't it going to have a different impact than if it is lard? these studies seem perfectly useless to me. just stop eating junk.

    August 3, 2010 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • killerkelly7

      I completely agree. Stop eating crap, and stop eating so MUCH crap. This is not a matter of low-carb or low-fat. Whomever believes you can eat all the fatty meat you want while cutting out natural sources of carbohydrates is crazy. And whomever believes the fats in an occasional avocado or olive oil is bad is crazy. Stop eating so much processed crap, how about that?

      August 3, 2010 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Add to that – and MOVE! Take a walk, climb stairs, life something other than a fork or a beer, play with your kids, go for a roll in the hay....

      August 3, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
  5. Melone

    There are problems with low-carb diets that people want to pretend don't exist. For example, if you love pasta, why should you go the rest of your life without a nice big bowl once-in-awhile? Also, too much protein can stress the kidneys. Meat and cheese are not healthy in large amounts, and without enough fiber, some people's bowels can't function well.

    I agree with eating a reasonable diet filled with mostly healthy foods and moderate portions.

    If you're diabetic, it is important to eat certain foods more than others (for example, berries, instead of a high-sugar fruit), but if you're healthy, no one should be telling you you can't eat some carbs.

    If you choose a low-carb diet and feel that you do well on it, that's your right, too. But there is too much judging-of-others taking place.

    August 3, 2010 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Val

      The only thing that works consistently for me is low-carb. I'm not diabetic, but any glycemic swings cause me to crave more carbohydrates. So a low-fat diet would have me binging on crackers or bread and gaining weight, or feeling like I'm literally starving if I force myself not eat them (which is extremely stressful). On a low-carb diet I just feel normal hunger around meal times, and I can easily restrict my overall daily calories.

      August 3, 2010 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Hi Melone – there is actually not a single published, peer reviewed report that proves high protein is harmful to the kidneys. There are societies that subsist on protein and fat alone – think of the Inuit (Eskimo).

      Having said that, I agree with your basic principle in that watching calories is ultimately what is relevent when it comes to weight loss. Low fat or low carb, raw or vegan, all of these are just structured tools to help people make better choices.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:04 | Report abuse |
    • Leah (TXanimal)

      Nobody's saying you can't have a cheat meal every once in a while. The "problem" you're attributing to the diet itself is actually a problem with the individual...you don't NEED that big bowl of pasta, but you WANT it. And there's nothing wrong with that as long as it's not a daily habit.

      High-protein diets typically only stress the kidneys if you have an underlying kidney problem or you eat MASSIVE amounts of protein and then sit around and do nothing all day.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
  6. mamaof3

    Melone-
    It isn't just about diabetes. A huge segment of the population has metabolic syndrome, 10% of the population has PCOS (which is usually accompanied by insulin resistance), etc. Those individuals all stand to do really well on a reduced carb diet. Most reduced carbs are not supposed to be "high" protein. There needs to be a good mix of fat and protein. Many fruits spike insulin just like other forms of sugar/carbohydrates. For those folks who are insulin resistant (which many non diebetics are IR as well), the bowl of pasta or the extra fruit really aren't a great choice. For those who are insulin resistant, each insulin spike generated makes the cells less sensitive to insulin the long haul. This leads to diabetes. So yeah, there is a rationale behind it benefitting non diabetics. I agree lower sugar fruits, etc. can be incorporated by many, but just wanted to point out why some individuals choose not to have that big bowl of pasta or higher sugar fruits.

    August 3, 2010 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Wet Wolf

    Eat the right type of carbs and fats and you can burn fat and improve your health.
    http://www.theomep.com

    August 3, 2010 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Rick McDaniel

    Both.

    August 3, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. uhuhreally

    This study isn't new. Something with similar results was published in JAMA back in 2007. Low carb was the winner as it both lowered bad cholesterol and helped stave off diabetes by keeping blood sugar low.

    August 3, 2010 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jeff

    What is with all this ridiculous low-carb/no-carb diet hype? Seriously, just eat your carbs in moderation, and preferably of the whole grain variety (whole grain bagels, wheat pasta, etc) and youll do great. I absolutely refuse to beleive a diet that virtually eliminates an entire food group could possibly be as good for you as one that simply balances everything and focuses on eating with moderation... CALORIES IN VS CALORIES OUT PEOPLE, it really is that simple. enjoy that bagel in the morning, just dont eat one every day and have plenty of other food groups (fruit, veggies,etc)

    August 3, 2010 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leah (TXanimal)

      Exactly...calories in v. calories out. Except I'd rather get more calories from protein than waste them on carbs...build more muscle, burn more bodyfat. We've all got different needs, goals and body types...it's just sorting through the muddle of research, literature and tips to find which method works best for us.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • BK

      Myself I stay away from grains completely...don't we give grain to cattle to fatten them up? The FDA hasn't updated the food pyramid sine 1992, I believe. Granted they are working on one now, but nothing has been finalized. Our ancestors didn't have bagels, and whole wheat pastas. They were healthier than we are today.

      August 3, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      I agree with you Jeff. The problem with low-fat is the additives they put into it to try to make up for like high fructose corn syrup that wreaks havoc on your pancreas.

      August 3, 2010 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
    • Sandra S.

      No, it's not that simple for everyone. There are some people who truly are "carb addicts" and can't just eat carbs in moderation, the same way that an alcoholic cannot drink in moderation. For them, a low-carb diet is the only thing that will work.

      August 3, 2010 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Melissa Q.

      Jeff, I agree with you 100%. That's exactly how I eat, and I'm doing fine.

      August 3, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      The idea of calories in and calories out is dramatically simplified, and in reality the body really does not work that way. Whether people acknowledge it or not, calories do interect differently from one another. Hypothetically, let's say a person eats 1,500 calories primarily consisting of carbohydrates, you are going to get different results than 1,500 calories low in carbohydrates (high fat) even though the have an identical calories in/out. Agriculture has been a part of the human diet less than 1% of the existence of the human body, I personally don't believe our genes correctly evolved to eat a diet high in carbs. Research the time in history that agriculture started and compare that to the first recorded dates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Constantly elevated insulin levels (caused by carbs) leads to fat-storage and has been linked to various diseases. From my understanding, carbs are carbs, whole wheat bread will be broken down no differently than white bread, you just get a few more nutrients but it still breaks down to glucose.

      August 3, 2010 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      " I absolutely refuse to beleive a diet that virtually eliminates an entire food group could possibly be as good for you as one that simply balances everything" ... But what makes carbs a food group? Would you consider meats a "food group" in the balanced diet of a cow? No, meat is not a part of a cows natural diet. Similarly, grain based carbs are not a natural part of the human diet. Grains are impractical without modern industrialized agriculture, hence not something we evolved eating.

      August 4, 2010 at 06:39 | Report abuse |
  11. sb

    The best rule to follow is to read the labeling. If the list of ingredients sounds like a chemical factory (including "healthy" frozen dinners), don't eat it. If sugar (anything ending in -ose) is in the first half of the ingredients, don't eat it. If it has artificial sweeteners, don't eat it–the body perceives it as real sweetener and raises insulin levels. If it has soy, don't eat it. Soy is bad for your thyroid. If it's high in sodium, don't eat it.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Claire

    I used to believe that calories were calories and thought low carb dieting was a joke, that it was all about portion control. My weight spiked as soon as I left college and went to work (left the unsustainable two-hour gym visits behind). I practiced portion control, tried weight watchers and jenny craig, but still kept gaining weight. I told my doctor that something was wrong with my metabolism, so she checked my thyroid, found that it was functioning normally, and told me that I must be eating too much. I knew this was not the case, but I listened to the doctor and proceeded to do portion control for two more years, gaining even more weight. Finally, a new doctor had my glucose levels checked and found that I had insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome/prediabetes. He told me that prediabetics cannot deal well with carbohydrates (especially the simple kind from breads and pastas) and sugars. They raise the glucose levels too high and then get stored as fat. A recent study from a conference in San Diego (google it if interested) supports that prediabetics lose more weight on a low carb diet. So far, I have dropped nine pounds rather quickly by limiting carbs. So.... if there is a chance you may be a prediabetic (and, evidently, it is quite common), you should try low carb and see what happens.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • justme

      Good for you, Claire. Glad you figured it out at a younger age than I did!

      August 16, 2010 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  13. Fuyuko

    what works for one person isn't really guaranteed to work for the next. What works for me is exercise. I walk 1 hr a day 6 days a week, garden 45 minutes a day on weekends,and stretch at least 1/2 hr a day. I don't obsess about calories or carbs.

    August 3, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sy2502

    Low fat or low carb? Neither. Portion control and physical activity. Ask the French, who eat butter and cream by the truckload, if they have the same obesity problems as the US. Or Italians, who eat pasta and rice every day. How hard is it to put 2 and 2 together?

    August 3, 2010 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. mamaof3

    Calories in and calories out oversimplifies biochemistry and reduces the science to that used in a furnace. it isn't that simple. Eating foods that cause a rise in blood sugar and then a rise in insulin sparks a whole host of biochemical changes in the body. Spiking your insulin causes one to be hungry just a short time later. Some people have cells that are sensitive enough to insulin that they can tolerate whole grains. Others do not.
    If you want a great read on why calories in vs. calories out is an oversimplification, Gary Taubes' work is amazing. I'm not overweight but have insulin resistance issues due to PCOS. Dr. Michael Eades has a website with some great information as well for those interested in looking beyond calories in/calories out. It doesn't mean calories don't matter, but there are a whole host of other factors in weight loss. Saturated fat and protein provide a lot of satiety and keep one from riding the insulin rollercoaster that leads to hunger.

    August 3, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Gala

    Body is regulated by hormones and food composition affects hormonal balance. It is more than calories . There are drags on a market that supposed to reduce appetite or increase energy level. It is exactly the effect of low- carb diet on insulin resistant people. You may drop weight on any diet but a low-carb diet is superior in keeping weight off.

    August 3, 2010 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Liutgard

    Seven words: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. (Yeah, I stole it from Michael Pollan.) And if your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, you probably shouldn't put it in your mouth.

    August 3, 2010 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Maria

    Did anybody try any algae weight-loss supplements? Like Sea Thin?
    Did you have any side effects?

    August 3, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. The_Mick

    I spent a lot of time co-writing the Nutrition Science Curriculum for the 12 high schools in my county and teaching it to many teachers from nearby counties and states. I spent a lot of time with the researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD where the detail of their work borders on the incredible. They basically say that roughly 50% carbs, 25% protein, and 25% fat (by Calorie count) best insures a diet that's NOT deficient in something we need. The current "no carb" diets are a hoot to anyone who went through the '80's when THE diet of the day was the Pritikin Promise which promoted 85% carbs. All extremes are BAD and the wisest thing is a balanced diet, eliminating as many simple carbs and bad fats as possible, and eating in moderation.

    August 3, 2010 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gala

      No grains and sugar doesn't mean no carbs. People on a low- carb diet substitute grains for vegetables. Most of the time it is very reasonable amount of healthy proteins and healthy fats with an unlimited amount of low-carb veggies and limited amount of fruits. Is in unhealthy for anyone?

      August 3, 2010 at 18:16 | Report abuse |
  20. land animal

    I feel like this article is treating HDL levels and weight as the only measures of health. Certainly there are other critical things to consider like vitamin levels, energy levels, bone density, and numerous others. I think that these things should be considered when assessing diets.

    August 3, 2010 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Paul

    From my own experience, replacing refined carbs with whole grains has very much been a key to appetite control. It has been a sustainable change to my diet, and I do not feel deprived and constantly hungry.

    August 3, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gala

      I agree. It is exactly my experience.

      August 3, 2010 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
  22. SMAN

    Food for some people is much like a drug to an addict...I'm that way as well. I have no problem taking an entire box of saltines with a jar of peanut butter and quart of milk and enjoying every mouthful. I think there has to be a balance however. If you eat like I eat, you better fast a couple times a week and be very active and I do both. It's definetly a balancing act day by day. If I was to eat like I do and not fast and be active, I would be extremely obese.

    August 3, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. JustMe

    Every time a researcher burps we get a new diet we're supposed to follow – it's crazy.

    Anything you eat in excess is bad for you – that goes for fat or proteins or carbs. If you take in more calories than you burn i a day – you'll gain weight. If you want to lose weight permanently – you need to get off the couch and move – daily. You can't live "depriving" yourself of one type of food – you'll always crave it and in the end you can't sustain it. Make the small changes you can live with – like going out to eat less often and cooking at home – or just making the effort to eat more fruits and vegetables. Choose the whole grain when there's a choice or have the burger without the bun now and then.

    And most important – don't buy into the hype that we all need to be a size 3. Pay more attention to how great you feel when you work out or make a better life choice than how it makes you look in the mirror. Eventually your perception will reach the mirror too.

    August 3, 2010 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sebastien

    There are all sorts of problems coming from eating a high carb diet, but the general opinion on carbs is so skewed in one direction that everybody seems to think of carbs like grains as indispensable.

    First, the reason we get fat can be attributed to insulin alone. Control insulin production and control your weight, no matter the amount of calories you eat. What triggers huge amounts of insulin? Carbs. The reason why insulin has to be there in the first place is that high blood sugar is very toxic and fatal to all mammals and this should tell you a thing or two about sugar and carbs.

    Then, grains are all full of antinutrients like lectins, phytates and gluten which irritate the gut and are the main cause of most autoimmune issues. 33% of the population produces gluten antibodies, not only those with celiac disease.

    Fat is the main constituent of our brain, bone marrow, lungs and is responsible for tons of necessary processes in the body. It's no wonder children today have so much problem listening in class, their low fat diet robs them from much needed nutrients (fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K).

    Of course, the source of fat you eat in important, but again the general population is unaware that vegetables oils are unhealthy while the healthy fats are the animal saturated fats like lard, tallow and butter. You're ill-advised if you think that fats that we've eaten for the millions of years of our human evolution are suddenly bad for us while novel fats extracted at high heat from plants are healthy. Those vegetable oils are unstable, oxidized and are mainly omega-6 fats which creates inflammation when not in balance with omega-3.

    There is really only one diet to rule them all and it's called the paleo diet. On this diet you eat what our ancestors would eat in the wild and you can kiss goodbye all the diseases of civilization (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, acne, allergies,... The list goes on).

    You can learn more here: http://thepaleodiet.net

    August 3, 2010 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gala

      I agree with the most of your post , except the part about healthy benefits of all saturated fats . It is true only for grass-fed animals. Unfortunately it is available but not affordable even for upper middle class household (on a regular basis, not occasionally) . You have to be a hunter to afford such diet. I tried to eat more wild caught fish and organic eggs.

      August 3, 2010 at 18:30 | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Sebastien- You are so right on. It took me years to figure it all out. I have tried every diet. I finally read, The Vegetarian Myth, which is one of the best books I've ever read. The only carbs I eat are a minimal amount of veggies and fruits. I have never felt better physically and emotionally. I have so much energy and my hair, nails, and skin are better than ever. I was losing my memory but it returned after I started this way of life. Also, I had terrible IBS, which is completely gone and only returns if I eat bread or other grains. We are meant to be carnivores, not vegetarians. Only ruminants, animals with rumens, are supposed to eat grass.

      Gala- Saturated fat is NOT bad like we have been brainwashed to believe. For the first time, I'm losing weight so easily and am not deprived. It's something I can do for the rest of my life! Of course, grassfed beef is what we eat at home. It's still better to eat crappy beef than pasta if you eat out and don't have access to grass-fed animal products. Try eating lots of grass-fed eggs.

      August 3, 2010 at 20:42 | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      One more thing. I have not been sick since I started eating a low-carb, high omega-3 saturated fat diet, and I have been exposed to very sick people. It's the way we are supposed to eat!

      August 3, 2010 at 20:46 | Report abuse |
  25. roginator

    People, People, can we please stop using the word 'fat'. It's offensive.

    Please refer to it as a low 'big boned' diet.

    Some people are so insensitive.

    August 3, 2010 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. comment

    Studies like this are way too general. They tell you just about nothing.

    August 3, 2010 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Siobhan

    If you have Type 2 Diabetes or glucose intolerance, your METER should tell you what to eat. I love the thought of a calorie counting diet. But for me and those like me, it doesn't work anymore. I experimented with my meter by testing carby foods o and 2 hours after I ate them and discovered that I have NO business whatsoever eating oatmeal or whole wheat. I LOVE oatmeal and my favorite breakfast in the warmer months was plain yogurt, 1/2 cup raw oatmeal, a serving of berries and a sprinkle of walnuts, all mixed together. Also, Ezekiel muffins with almond butter. Makes my sugar spike to 210!!! I cannot eat a variety of foods anymore. My meter tells me what to eat, and nothing else, and my sugar is under control.

    August 3, 2010 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. crock

    It's a matter of portion control & calorie burning...Simple formula: If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. Therefore, watch your caloric intake & excersise at least 3x/wk. Stay ahead of the food. As long as your stay disciplined to burn off more than what you take in, you can just about eat what you want. Look at like this as well, instead of eating a whole bag of chips, just have a handful, to satisfy that junk food craving we all get. Instead of an entire tube of cookies, just have one or two. You control the food instead of the food controlling you. Lets face it, to win the war on fat you have to change the way you think about food. It's a battle. I know.

    August 4, 2010 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • justme

      Actually, it's not as simple as that. Anyone who has been on Weight Watchers or other low-calorie plans and lost some weight but then plateaued will confirm this. I did a 1200-cal diet with 45 min. exercise every day for two months and lost 1 pound. When I quit worrying about calories and fat and kept my carbs at less than 100/day, I lost 10 lbs. in 6 weeks and have kept it off. Carbs, actually the insulin required to process them, are the problem, not calories.

      August 16, 2010 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
  29. blockeho

    Clearly the debate rages on. Maybe we can all agree at minimum that no one should be eating any mix of food in the quantities served in restaurants today. I am disgusted every time I'm served a meal where the protein alone is 8-12 ounces, plus is served with bread, probably 2-3 servings' worth of some other starch and 1 serving of veg. Wait staff get so concerned when less than half of the plate is eaten, and it seems ridiculous that I have to reassure them the food was fine. These portion sizes are why we have the obesity epidemic today. And for those who will ask – I used to be obese until I took my health seriously and changed my self-destructive patterns. Just pay attention to how much goes in your mouth and get some regular exercise. Add in a moderation and a little patience.... and you can lose the weight/improve health.

    August 4, 2010 at 06:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Ben

    It really is quite simple. As always, people are trying to over-complicate things. Eat a healthy breakfast, eat a healthy lunch, and eat a healthy dinner. Don't eat dinner after 7 PM if you can swing it. Exercise! Eat less, move more! Stay away from the processed, packaged crap. Fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat. Remember hearing about the basic food groups? Lets practice this, and teach this to our kids!

    August 4, 2010 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mark

    Well I can see not a lot of real world anchoring here. I would love to see exactly what the "low carb" group in the study ate. and what the regular carb bunch ate. Because where youre getting those calories from can make a big difference.

    Additionally most of the people I see jumping for low carb and other faddish diets at least around here are the overweight and lazy, and generally people who already dont make good food choices. Saying "low carb can be healthy, because you use veggies instead of grains, etc etc" is putting idealized makeup/perfume on a pig – it's still a pig:

    1. A lot of people who opt for low carb and other options already dont follow good dietary rules (or lifestyle rules in general). They are not going to follow this "idealized" low carb diet people bring up here. I would love for a study to take an uncontrolled random sample of low-carbers and let them dictate what they're eating on their own and see exactly how they implement "low carb". Many use it as an excuse to eat bad things – as long as theyre not sugar and starch, they're ok right?

    2. If you are a no-load couch potato or dont exercise – which already violates one half of the good lifestyle equation (diet + exercise) – then low carb might fuel your existence ok. Otherwise if you do anything even moderately athletic then there is a proven problem with low-carb – your decreased glycogen levels cause you to hit the wall / bonk / fade much faster than normal. No matter what the low-carb pundits say, the simple biology is that your body cannot process non-carbohydrates as quickly, efficiently, and readily as it can actual carbs and glycogen and translate it into serum glucose. Test it yourself. Eat low carb a few weeks and then set a control for exercise – you need a high intensity power workout (lots of anerobic e.g. sprints and circuits of olympic lifts, or similar) and also a timed endurance workout – e.g. 6-8 mph on the treadmill until failure.

    Compare your performance on low carb to a diet with standard guidelines.

    3. Your food choices no matter what diet plan you undertake, are critical. if you get protein from fried things, and carbs from candy and white bread, and dietary fats from fried foods and the skin of the pork/chicken you eat, then no matter what diet philosophy you follow, you're screwing up.

    4. A better solution than low-carb is to make good food choices within regular dietary guidelines – so you can power a lifestyle that includes a level of regular exercise that gets you TIRED. And by tired I mean you are damn tired, sweaty, and beat. Walking around the block chatting on your phone doesnt count. Push yourself. Your overall resulting health will be much more powerfully changed in a positive way.

    August 4, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gala

      I was always interested in a healthy life stile and healthy eating. It includes vigorous exercise with a heart monitor at least 3 -4 times times a week,(on my opinion, walking,slow biking and leisure swimming are not exercises at all , just pleasurable activities). After the age of 47 I found that low carb diet helped me to stay healthy even longer. Because of my age I couldn't increase my exercise activity level but eating low-carb took care of my pre-menopausal mood swings and helped to keep weight at the same level. It is easier to watch food than increase physical activity ,especially after certain age.

      August 4, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
  32. TYRANNASAURUS

    ANY DOCTOR WILL TELL YOU.....IT'S EAT LESS AND EXERCISE MORE.....IT'S THE ONLY DIET THAT WORKS OVER THE LONG RUN.......IT'S A HARD SELL TO STUPID LAZY...(EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO GORGING) PEOPLE.

    August 5, 2010 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. kate

    It doesn't matter THAT much where the calories come from as long as you burn more than you consume. The media loves shoving this low carb/low fat stuff down peoples throat. It's all a bunch of crap, you can have anything in moderation. check out this site http://www.diet-myths.com and read "truth to weight loss" you'll thank me

    September 7, 2010 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Elizabeth King

    low carb diets should be the bulk of our meals to avoid getting obese";"

    October 4, 2010 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Rahim

    It's a common and very pervasive misconception that fat, both unsaturated and saturated, is the chief contributor that leads to obesity, heart disease, or other chronic dietary diseases. The truth however, as Gary Taubes reported in his book, Good Calories Bad Calories, is that it's the carbs in your diet that upsets the hormonal balance in the body. Sugars elevate insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates. And when insulin levels rise in the blood, we store fat in our adipose tissue. Ultimately, the more carbs we eat, the more insulin is produced, the fatter we get. Conversely, the fewer carbohydrates we consume, the more likely our bodies are to burn fat. Though it would be extreme to suggest a complete elimination of carbs from our diet, as that would most probably lead to adverse effects, a low-carb diet, not a diet low in fat, is more conducive to weight loss, and promotes a healthier body chemistry. In the end, it comes down to the facts and the science behind it, not intuition or misbeliefs hyped by a generally uninformed public.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
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  37. Rahim

    Though an excess of bad carbs (anything extremely processed or refined) may have many negative consequences on your body, they should not be cut out or reduced to an unhealthy amount. Carb intake accounts for most all the glucose that powers your cells, and research continues to emphasize that 45-65% of an adult's diet should be carbohydrates. The best way to make sure you're eating right: check those nutrition facts!

    October 19, 2010 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 31, 2010 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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  46. Dave Horne

    I"m 63 and only wanted to lose 10 pounds for the last 20 years and always found that so difficult. Once I learned that insulin is driving fat storage and blocking the burning of fat reserves, it was a no brainer.

    To burn your own fat requires a 'negative stimulus of an insulin deficiency'... you must do everything not to raise your blood sugar.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.