Cutting carbs is the quickest way to lose weight – but the long-term effects are dangerous. But they admit it IS the most effective way to lose weight
- A Mayo Clinic study has confirmed that data show low-carb diets are more effective than low-fat diets at cutting weight quickly
- But they warn that after 6 months, the effects are barely distinguishable
- And meat-heavy, carb-free diets lead to higher risk of cancer and early death
Cutting out carbs is the most effective diet for weight loss, a new study confirms.But the same report warns it is only healthy for six months before your metabolism begins to slow.Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona analyzed federal data on dieters from January 2005 to December 2016. They found people lost up to 9 pounds more on a low-carb diet than on a low-fat diet in half a year. However, after six months, the effects began to level out and were barely distinguishable from other diets.
‘The best conclusion to draw is that adhering to a short-term low-carb diet appears to be safe and may be associated with weight reduction,’ said Dr. Heather Fields, MD, an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and lead researcher on this study.
‘However, that weight loss is small and of questionable clinical significance in comparison to low-fat diets.
‘We encourage patient to eat real food and avoid highly processed foods, especially processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, deli meats, hot dogs, and ham when following any particular diet.’
Throughout her data analysis, Dr Fields found diets that heavily restrict carbohydrates often lead to greater consumption of meats. In many cases, this increase in meat-based protein has been implicated in worsened mortality and increased cancer risk by raising blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol. However, these effects were not evident in people who only followed a meat-heavy, carb-free diet for just six months. However, Fields says the findings come with a caveat.
‘Physicians must keep in mind that the literature is surprisingly limited, considering the popularity of these diets and the claims of health benefits in the public press.
‘Our review found no safety issues identified in the current literature, but patients considering LCDs [low-carb diets] should be advised there is very little data on long-term safety and efficacy.’
Fields also notes that limitations in the previous research she reviewed made it difficult to draw broad conclusions. Studies did not address the type of weight lost (muscle, water, or fat), and most of the studies relied on self-reported data about participants’ diets.
‘As an osteopathic physician, I tell patients there is no one size fits all approach for health,’ says Dr. Tiffany Lowe-Payne, DO, an osteopathic family physician. ‘Factors like the patient’s genetics and personal history should be considered, along with the diet programs they’ve tried before and, most importantly, their ability to stick to them.’
Dr. Lowe-Payne insists carbohydrates should be a mainstay of most people’s diets and, after six months, weight loss is virtually the same as for people on a low-fat diet. But she did admit that it has benefits – not just for weight loss, but also for lowering blood sugar levels.
‘When you think of what dieters want – and what they need to stay motivated – it is the satisfaction of results,’ Dr Lowe-Payne said. They want to see significant weight loss and fast. For many, a low-carb lifestyle provides the answer they are looking for.’