For people considering a new diet, a few decisions often loom large, such as choosing between a low-fat or low-carbohydrate plan and whether to eat plant or animal-based food.
Recent findings by National Institutes of Health researchers could help inform those choices. People on a low-fat, plant-based diet consumed fewer calories but also had higher blood sugar and insulin levels than those on a low-carb, animal-based regimen.
The results, published in the journal Nature Medicine, shed new light on how fat and carbohydrate consumption can affect health.
The researchers compared how the two diets affected body weight, blood chemistry, hormone levels and other health metrics.
A group of non-diabetic adults was given a diet of either plant-based food or animal-based food. The first diet had more carbs and less fat. The second diet involved less carbohydrates but more fat. During the four-week study, the participants spent two weeks on each diet plan.
Those on the low-fat, plant-based diet ate 550 to 700 fewer calories a day. The participants lost weight on both diets, although the losses were more significant on the low-fat, plant-based diet. But the extra carbohydrates contributed to higher blood sugar levels.
The findings show there are benefits to both types of diets. They also suggest that weight gain and overeating are more complicated than just fat or carbohydrate consumption.
It may come down to personal preference or the need to reduce one’s blood sugar levels. But the key takeaway is that establishing a healthy, balanced diet that you can stick with will help you lose some weight.
See? In the great diet debate, everyone can win!