Weight Loss With A Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, Or Low-Fat Diet (pdf), NEJM, 2008
In all groups, women were eating ~1500 calories/day, men ~1800 cal/day, or so they said. There was no difference among groups in amount of physical activity. The low-carb Atkins-like group had the highest drop-out rate, losing almost a quarter of participants over 2 years.
For weight loss, the Med. diet and the Atkins-like diet performed equally well -- when you looked at all participants.
Weight loss among all participants after 2 years: 1But the Med. diet was the clear winner -- when you looked at just women.
- AHA diet: 6 lbs
- Med. diet: 10 lbs
- Atkins-like diet: 10 lbs
Weight loss among women after 2 years:Here's something interesting, regarding diabetes ...
- AHA diet: 0.2 lbs
- Med. diet: 14 lbs
- Atkins-like diet: 5 lbs
Go to the study here, flip to page 240 (12 of 13), and look at Graph D for Fasting Glucose.
The fasting glucose of people with diabetes eating the Med. diet decreased by an average of 32.8 mg/dl. That's astounding.
The fasting glucose of the people with diabetes eating the Atkins-like diet and the AHA diet didn't decrease at all. In fact, their blood sugar went up, even though they lost weight.
Look at Graphs E and F and you'll see something similar. People with diabetes eating a Med. diet had the greatest reduction in fasting insulin, and the greatest reduction in HOMA-IR (a measure of insulin resistance), meaning the cells of those eating the Med. diet had become more sensitive to insulin compared to the cells of those eating the other diets.
All this led the authors to conclude that, of the 3 diets tested, a Med. diet may be the most effective for glycemic control.
What's interesting about that is the Med. diet was high in carbohydrate.
What Was Unique About The Mediterranean Diet?
The study tells us:
- People eating it were consuming the highest amounts of dietary fiber.
- People eating it had the highest ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat.
So, between the AHA and Med. diets, it comes down to foods. We know the Med. diet "was rich in vegetables and low in red meat, with poultry and fish replacing beef and lamb." There was a specific emphasis on olive oil (30 to 45 g/day) and nuts (5 to 7 nuts/day).
The AHA diet is described on their website. If it was anything like the AHA diet I reviewed here -- the one that allows frosted cupcakes, biscuits, French fries, hamburgers -- no wonder it lost out.