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Low-fat, low-carb diets trigger weight loss almost equally, study finds

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Palo Alto, CA — The battle between low fat and low carb may be a dieting draw, according to a recent study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

For the study, 609 people between the ages of 18 and 50 were randomly assigned to follow either a low-carbohydrate diet or a low-fat diet for one year. Participants were asked to limit overly processed foods, as well as those high in sugars and starch.

Findings showed that each group lost about the same amount of weight, on average – 11.7 pounds for the low-fat group and 13.2 pounds for the low-carb group. Researchers also tested for factors that might predict successful weight loss, including genetics and insulin production. They found that neither played a significant role.

“We’ve all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet – it worked great – and then another friend tried the same diet, and it didn’t work at all,” Christopher Gardner, Stanford professor of medicine and lead study author, said in a press release. “It’s because we’re all very different, and we’re just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking, “What’s the best diet?’ but, ‘What’s the best diet for whom?’”

Gardner said members of each group ultimately followed a similar path to better health, eating more whole foods and vegetables and less sugar and refined flour.

The study was published online Feb. 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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