Weight loss programs are a multi-million dollar industry in the US, with each company claiming that their way is the best. At the heart of the debate has been the issue of carbohydrates. How much should we be consuming?
There have been several studies conducted in the last decade comparing the various types of diets designed to maximize weight loss and improve overall health. I am just going to mention two. A study conducted at the University of Sydney in 2006 found that a reduction in high glycemic index carbohydrates (those that rapidly increase blood glucose levels) improved both weight loss and reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol. A study conducted at the Rowett Research Institute in 2008 found that men on a high protein/low carbohydrate diet lost more weight that the men on high protein/high carbohydrate diet even when the total number of calories consumed was the same. In addition to losing more weight, the patients on the low carbohydrate diet felt less hungry.
A recent study conducted by researchers at BC Cancer Research Center gives us even more incentive to reduce our total carbohydrate intake. Mice were fed either a high protein/low carbohydrate diet or a Western diet, low in protein and high in carbohydrates, with the total calories consumed being the same between all mice. Although they found no weight difference between the mice during the study, they did find a significant reduction in the number of tumors in the mice consuming the high protein/low carbohydrate diet. These mice were healthier in other ways as well, having lower glucose and insulin levels. Even in a genetically engineered mouse strain that was designed to produce spontaneous mammary cancer, the mice on the high protein/low carbohydrate diet did not develop a single tumor whereas 50% of the high carbohydrate-diet mice developed tumors within the first year.
Taken together, the high protein and low carbohydrate diet offers not only an efficient way to loss weight, but a healthier way to eat. This diet has been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduced blood sugar and insulin levels, helping us avoid developing heart disease and diabetes. Recently it has been shown to not only prevent the initiation of cancer but also reduce the growth and spread of tumors.