Which diet is the most effective for weight loss?
This could be a historic day in Sweden. Today it became official. After over two years of work, a Swedish expert committee published their expert inquiry (Google translated from Swedish).
This report from SBU (Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment) is likely to be the basis for future dietary guidelines for obesity treatment within the Swedish health care system.
According to SBU, the only clear difference among different dietary recommendations is seen during the first six months. Here a low-carbohydrate diet, such as LCHF, is clearly more effective than today’s conventional advice.
From fad diet to best in test.
Here are some more highlights from the report:
In addition, health markers will improve on a low-carbohydrate diet, according to SBU. You’ll get:
…a greater increase in HDL cholesterol (“the good cholesterol”) without having any adverse affects on LDL cholesterol (“the bad cholesterol”). This applies to both the moderate low-carbohydrate intake of less than 40 percent of the total energy intake, as well as to the stricter low-carbohydrate diet, where carbohydrate intake is less than 20 percent of the total energy intake. In addition, the stricter low-carbohydrate diet will lead to improved glucose levels for individuals with obesity and diabetes, and to marginally decreased levels of triglycerides.
So, all important health markers improved or unchanged on a stricter low-carbohydrate diet. Just like an international review of all research in the area showed last year:
Long term, studies show no statistically significant differences among different diets, and the differences decrease with time. The SBU suggests that this is because of decreasing compliance with time. People simply tend to fall back to old habits.
The more studies we add, the better we can see the clear advantage of low-carbohydrate diets. Unfortunately SBU has excluded all studies examining both obese and overweight people. If you include studies on weight loss where overweight people are included – to get a greater scientific basis – a clear advantage for the low-carbohydrate diet was seen even after a year:
A well-designed study, which for the same reason as above, was dropped from the SBU report’s analysis, still showed a persistent advantage for the LCHF-like diet (Atkins) after two years, despite the difficulty with such long-term diet studies.
SBU also kills the idea that exercise plays an important roll in weight loss. Exercise may be very good for health, but:
Systematic reviews of the literature show that the addition of physical activity to a dietary intervention for individuals with obesity have, if any, a marginal effect on weight loss at the group level.
Warnings Against LCHF Dismissed
There’s a great lack of knowledge today on what dietary guidelines are best for long-term health. We simply don’t know.