Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Low-Carb and Mediterranean Diets are Both Winners for Fat Loss!

"You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth..."
- Psalm 104:14

In one of the longest and largest studies comparing dueling weight-loss techniques, a low-carb diet and a Mediterranean-style regimen helped people lose more weight than a traditional low-fat diet.

The low-carb diet also helped improve cholesterol more than the other two. All three approaches (the low-carb diet, a low-fat diet and a Mediterranean diet) achieved weight loss and improved cholesterol, but the low-carb diet and Mediterranean diet were the clear winners.

Average weight loss for the low-carb group was 10.3 pounds. Those in the Mediterranean diet lost 10 pounds and those on the low-fat diet dropped 6.5 pounds. The low-carb group had the most improvement in several cholesterol measures, including the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (the "good" cholesterol).

Most of the participants were men and all men and women in the study got roughly equal amounts of exercise (but it did not state what type or how much exercise).

As for how the diets were broken down, the low-fat diet restricted calories and focused on low-fat grains, vegetables and fruits with no more than 30 percent of calories from fat.

The Mediterranean diet had similar calorie, fat and cholesterol restrictions, with an emphasis on poultry, fish, olive oil and nuts.

The low-carb diet set limits for carbohydrates, but none for calories or fat. Dieters were encouraged to choose vegetarian sources of fat and protein (and not a lot of butter, eggs and cream).

Once again, low-carb diets prove to be healthier and more effective for fat loss. However, I should clarify that a low-carb diet doesn't mean you no longer eat vegetables and fruits. In fact, a low-carb diet should include as many fibrous vegetables as possible along with low-calorie, low-sugar and low-carb fruits such as berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), apples and oranges.

A lower carb diet is easy to follow if you remember the following tips:

  • Eat protein with every meal from lean meats (organic beef, chicken, fish, bison, venison, etc.), eggs (whole eggs, preferably organic) dairy (organic milk, yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese), raw nuts and protein powders
  • Eat plenty of vegetables with each meal - the greener and more colorful the better (broccoli, spinach, green beans, asparagus, peas, zucchini, brussel sprouts, green peppers, lima beans, squash, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc.)
  • Eat plenty of healthy fats from olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, natural peanut butter as well as fats from lean meats, whole eggs, dairy products, etc.
  • Limit starchy carbohydrates such as grains (bread and corn), potatoes, rice, pasta and sugar.

In fact, Mike Roussell recommends following the six pillars of nutrition:

  1. Eat five or six times a day.
  2. Limit your consumption of sugars and processed foods
  3. Eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
  4. Drink more water and cut out calorie-containing beverages (beer, soda, juice, etc.)
  5. Focus on consuming lean proteins throughout the day.
  6. Save starch-containing foods (in small quantities) until after a workout or for breakfast.

If you follow the tips above and consume a lower carb diet, you will be able to lose fat and improve your health. Adding exercise to your nutritional program in the form of resistance training and high-intensity interval training will increase the benefits to your health and body composition.

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