Low-fat or low-carb doesn't matter as much as calorie counting when trying to lose weight, according to a new study.
The study shows that people can lose weight on a variety of diets as long as they consume fewer calories. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health financed a two-year study of hundreds of overweight people to determine which diets work the best.
The researchers recruited 811 overweight or obese older adults and put them on one of four diet plans, including two low-fat diets with 20 percent of calories from fat and two high-fat plans with 40 percent of calories from fat.
All four plans adhered to heart-healthy guidelines, which emphasize eating less than 8 percent of calories from artery-clogging saturated (animal) fat, eating vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products, and consuming at least 20 grams of fiber a day.
Among the findings, presented in today's New England Journal of Medicine:
- In six months, the dieters lost an average of 13 pounds no matter which diet they were on.
- After two years, they had kept off an average of 9 pounds and lost 1 to 3 inches in the waist, regardless of which diet they were on.
- Dieters had improvements in heart-disease risk factors, including increases in the HDL (good) cholesterol, and decreases in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) at six months and two years.
- People reported similar levels of fullness, hunger and satisfaction on the different diets.
Source: USA Today.com, In 4-Diet Study, All Lose Weight if They Watched Their Calories