Colette's Blog

Sweden has it Right—Lower-Carb is Better than Low-Fat

December 1, 2014

Sweden has given us the Volvo and Ikea, now it may be on the forefront in the fight against obesity. A report called Dietary Treatment for Obesity, from the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment (SBU), has shown that the typically recommended low-fat diet is failing to stop or reverse obesity trends that have reached epidemic proportions across the globe. The SBU will now recommend a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat approach similar to the Atkins Diet. “A low-carbohydrate diet, even in the stricter form, will lead to a greater weight loss in the short term than the low-fat diet, and studies have indicated no adverse effects on blood lipids, provided that the weight stays low,” the SBU concludes.

“One possible consequence of this report will therefore be an increased use of a strict low-carbohydrate diet for short-term weight reduction.” As you know, during the maintenance phase of Atkins, you typically consume 20 to 40 percent of your calories from carbs, exactly the percentage range recommended by the SBU, and the range that helps you maintain your goal weight. In addition, the higher fat intake on an Atkins-like diet means your are more satisfied and stay full for longer, which makes this way of eating much more sustainable.

In addition, as you know, health markers improve on a low-carb diet. According to the report, following a low-carb diet resulted in “… a greater increase in HDL cholesterol (“the good cholesterol”) without having any adverse effects 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 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.”

This new research is in tune with the study released in the June issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, which I covered in one of my previous blogs:More Research: Low-Carb Works for Long-Term Weight Loss and Heart Health. It also showed that a carbohydrate managed approach like Atkins is more effective for long-term weight loss than a conventional low-fat diet.

As always, it’s encouraging to see more and more studies that support the efficacy of a low-carb approach like Atkins. Although the SBU excluded all studies that examined both obese and overweight people in this latest analysis, if the studies on overweight people were included, it would show that a low-carb diet has the clear advantage, even after a year. This once again shows that Atkins is not just effective for short-term weight loss, but truly effective over the long term as well.

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