There is an epidemic of obesity in this country and the serious health risks such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes that accompany obesity are increasing as well. The insulin resistance (IR) that many individuals have is considered to be the cause of the diabetes and lifestyle changes to lose weight are normally used as the primary way to prevent insulin resistance from turning into type II diabetes.
In order to help obese individuals lose weight, many national organizations recommend following a diet that is high in carbohydrates (HC) with the majority of those carbohydrates coming from raw fruits and vegetables and also whole grains.
With the popularity of low-carb, high-protein, high-fat diets, such as Atkins and the Zone, health professionals have taken a new look at the impressive weight loss results and lowered cardiovascular risk indicators that many people have achieved. Previous studies have shown that the low-carb diets have produced preferable results to those of the traditional high-carb diet that is normally recommended. Unsure of the long-term results of these diets, KA McAuley et al performed a study to compare the overall results of popular low-carb diets like Atkins to a high-carb diet during a twelve-month period.
For the study, 93 women were randomly placed into three different diet groups: The three groups consisted of the high carbohydrate (HC) diet group, the high fat, low carb (HF) diet group, and the high protein (HP) diet group which was relatively high protein. Each group was given guidelines on how much energy to consume whether their energy came from carbohydrates, fat, or protein. All participants in each group were instructed to continue their diets without supervision until the time of their six and twelve month visits.
In addition to weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, fat and fat-free mass, lipids, fasting glucose and insulin and 2 hour glucose were measured. Although the results were similar to those obtained from other studies at the six-month visit, there were more variations at the twelve-month visit. During the first six months, the HP and HF groups showed similar results regarding the amount of weight and fat mass lost which were both much greater than that lost in the HC group.
During the six to twelve month period, there were more significant amounts of weight, fat mass, and waist circumference gains in the HF group. The participants in the HC group achieved a smaller amount of weight loss in comparison to the other groups but they were the only ones who sustained the weight loss during the latter period. Triglyceride levels were significantly lower in participants in the HP group than the other groups.
Members in the HF group had higher measurements in waist circumference, fat mass, triglycerides, and glucose during the second 6-month period while those in the HP group showed significant improvements. Those in the HC group also showed modest improvements in each area.
While the HP and HC diets seem to be the best options for individuals who are insulin resistant, monitoring the amount of fat on the HP diet is important for obtaining the desired triglyceride levels.
Participants in each of the diet groups had trouble adhering to their diet plans during the last six months, making a significant difference in the outcome. Since the results of free living individuals have shown repeatedly better results than those obtained in the second half of the study, finding a high protein or low carb diet you can stick with might be the best choice for you.