The traditional low-fat diet may be more effective than a low-carb regimen in maintaining long term weight loss, according to a new study published in the March 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study followed participants over three years, according to HealthDay, and found that the low-fat dieters had maintained greater weight loss than the low-carb dieters, but also that neither side had maintained significant weight loss.
According to HealthDay:
In 2003, around the time the low-carb Atkins diet was all the rage, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania published research that found that obese men and women lost a lot more weight -- initially -- when on a low-carb versus a low-fat diet. At the six-month mark, obese dieters on the low-carb plan had lost about 13 pounds, compared to about 4.5 pounds on a low-fat diet.
But what about long term results? After three years, low-fat dieters averaged a weight of ten pounds below their starting weight, and low-carb dieters averaged a weight of about five pounds below their starting weight, demonstrating that although the low fat dieters had slightly greaters success, most dieters in general saw only limited results over the long term.
Still, at the end of the study, low-fat dieters continued to demonstrate steady weight loss, whereas the low-carb dieters showed signs of weight increase.
"It's really hard for people to sustain a low-carb diet. They can stick with it for six months, but then you see a gradual return to baseline," said lead study author Dr. Marion Vetter, medical director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania. "Low-fat diets may be a little easier for people to stick with."
Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, told HealthDay that dieting success is still possible, but the secret is to make moderate lifestyle adjustments in order to promote slow, long term weight loss.