Switching some high-carb foods to low-carb alternatives could result in 20 pounds of weight loss, new research concludes.
People who eat relatively low amounts of carbohydrates can lose weight without reducing their calorie intake.
Foods that are typically high in carbohydrates include bread, pasta, starchy vegetables, beer and anything with sugar in it (think cookies, candy and cake).
Foods that are low in carbs include eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts, apples, seeds and leafy green vegetables.
The study showed that people eating a diet low in carbs burned 250 more calories per day than those on a high-carb diet — that is despite consuming the same number of calories.
The conclusions come from a study designed to test how people can maintain their weight loss over time.
Most people gain weight lost through dieting within one to two years, so the best technique is critical in the long-term.
Switching some carbohydrates to different food groups, though, helps people maintain their weight loss over time, the study’s results showed.
David Ludwig, , study co-author, said:
“This is the largest and longest feeding study to test the ‘Carbohydrate-Insulin Model,’ which provides a new way to think about and treat obesity.
According to this model, the processed carbohydrates that flooded our diets during the low-fat era have raised insulin levels, driving fat cells to store excessive calories.
With fewer calories available to the rest of the body, hunger increases and metabolism slows — a recipe for weight gain.”
For the study, 164 adults who had already lost at least 10 percent of their body weight had the carbs in their diet controlled.
Researchers put them on diets consisting of 60, 40 and 20 percent carbohydrates.
The results showed that people on the low-carb diet burned 250 more calories per day than those on the high-carb diet.
Dr Cara Ebbeling, the study’s first author, said:
“If this difference persists — and we saw no drop-off during the 20 weeks of our study — the effect would translate into about a 20-pound weight loss after three years, with no change in calorie intake.”
The effect of a low- versus high-carb diet was even more apparent among people who secreted the most insulin.
Then the difference was 400 extra calories expended on the low-carb diet.
Dr Ebbeling said:
“Our observations challenge the belief that all calories are the same to the body.
Our study did not measure hunger and satiety, but other studies suggest that low-carb diets also decrease hunger, which could help with weight loss in the long term.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the BMJ (Ebbeling et al., 2018).