Every day, it seems like a new diet appears on the scene with advocates professing the many reasons why it’s superior to the rest. Two of the most consistently popular diet trends are low-fat diets and low-carbohydrate diets. Which begs the question: Which one is better than the other when it comes to weight loss for your bariatric patients?
New research, published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), pits the two diets together toward a surprising conclusion: Neither trumps the other when it comes to facilitating weight loss.
Here’s a closer look at the study, along with what it means for the bariatric diet and nutritional counseling for bariatric patients.
After conducting a 12-month randomized trial of more than 600 overweight adults during which participants followed either the healthy low-fat (HLF) diet or healthy low-carbohydrate (HLF) diet, the study determined that “there was no significant difference in 12-month weight loss between the HLF and HLC diets, and neither genotype pattern nor baseline insulin secretion was associated with the dietary effects on weight loss.”
In fact, all participants in the study lost weight and maintained that weight loss at the same pace over the same period of time. The takeaway: While dietary modification is an integral part of any weight loss plan, no single dietary strategy is superior to another.
But the results of the study are also accompanied by an important caveat: Neither the HLF or the HLF diet was actually “low-fat” or “low-carb” in the most rigorous sense. Rather, each adopted a more moderate approach — especially when compared to the latest diet du jour, the ketogenic diet, which eschews all carbs and sugar while espousing fatty foods.
Explains Business Insider, “All the participants were told to ramp up their intake of vegetables and slash their consumption of added sugars and refined grains — two nuggets of nutritional wisdom that the vast majority of Americans have yet to incorporate into their daily lives.”
In fact, after the initial two weeks of the year-long trial, the study shed rules about counting carbs and fats and instead directed all participants toward healthy choices. Specifically, participants were told to “maximize vegetable intake” through veggies like kale and bell peppers while limiting their intake of added sugars and refined flours — ingredients which constitute the majority of carbs eaten by the average American, and which are major contributors to the obesity epidemic with links to other major diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Participants in both groups also leaned toward protein-rich foods, a phenomenon which researchers attribute to their filling nature.
Both approaches essentially boiled down to the same thing: a plant-based diet. This is also consistent with the latest findings from U.S. News & World Report, which identifies plant-based diets like the Mediterranean Diet and the Flexitarian Diet as “good for the environment, your heart, your weight, and your overall health.”
Concludes Business Insider, “The bigger takeaway from the study, then, seems to be that any eating program that curbs your intake of refined carbs and added sugars while prioritizing vegetables, proteins, and whole grains can help you lose weight.”
This is great news for dietitians as it confirms what we already know while simultaneously reinforcing the importance of educating bariatric patients about the basics of healthy eating — no fad dieting required.
One of the simplest ways to set your bariatric patients on the path to success is to provide them with specific guidance regarding what to eat and what to avoid without burdening them with the task of calorie counting and portion measuring.
You can further support their efforts by steering bariatric patients toward bariatric diet products like Achieve from Rational Foods. Not only are these plant-based bariatric meal replacements high in protein and low in calories, but they couldn’t be easier to incorporate into daily life.