A study was just published yesterday in Annals of Internal Medicine reporting the results of a 2-year study comparing a low-carb diet against a low-fat, lower-calorie diet for weight loss in middle-aged, obese men and women. And by low-carb, I mean the Atkins Diet which starts off with less than 20 g of carbs a day and increases from there.
There have been several studies now comparing these diets. What makes this study different is that it was 2 years long. And as such, the results are quite interesting. Here are the highlights:
- People lost weight faster on the low-carb diet. But after 2 years, weight loss was the same for both groups.
- For both diets, people only lost weight for the first 6 months. After that, they spent the next 18 months gaining back the weight, albeit slowly. This is a sad reality of weight loss.
- For the folks eating low carb, about 50% of them reported significant hair loss during the first 6 months. This is pretty common on these really low-carb diets and something that people should seriously consider before starting such a diet. Is it worth losing your hair to lose weight more quickly?
- At the end of the study, the folks on the low-carb diet increased their levels of "good" cholesterol whereas those on the low-fat diet did not. Quite interesting since people tend to freak out that the Atkins Diet is bad for your heart.
- Also at the end of the study, there were no differences in bone density between the low-carb and low-fat groups and bone density didn't change over time in either group. This is pretty significant because again, people freak out that all the high-protein from animal products will cause bone loss. Not according to this study.
This also means that I will continue to enjoy 'weekend bacon' and my other high-protein foods, but at a reasonable level that keeps my hair intact (see my posts on protein). And alas, it means that some other schmuck will publish a weight loss book that will be all the rage, but in reality will only be as effective as every other diet that is in existence (at least for the first 6 months)...but that person will be rich and famous and laughing about it all as they head in for their annual liposuction.