In Sweden it’s getting very popular to eat real low carb food (i.e. LCHF). Thus, the media went all crazy here today with the news that the meat lobby is behind it all.
Two reporters had investigated the studies showing better weight loss (and improved risk factors) on low carb diets. They claimed that these studies had something in common: they were sponsored by the meat industry. Presumably in an attempt to fool us into eating more meat.
True or another conspiracy theory?
Not necessarily a high meat diet
First of all LCHF does not necessarily mean more meat. LCHF means eating less sugar and starch, replacing the calories with more fat (e.g. butter or olive oil).
Some people even eat a vegetarian version of LCHF, although that is not so common.
It is true that some of the studies where low carb shows the best effects are partially sponsored by organizations with financial interests at stake. It would be strange otherwise.
For example, when debating these studies on the internet it does not take long before someone points out that the Shai-study, one of the biggest and best on low carb, had the Atkins research foundation as one of three financial supporters.
But there are a lot of studies showing better results with low carb now. Not all of them are sponsored by diet gurus or the meat industry. Here is a list of studies showing significantly more weight loss (and usually better risk factors) for low carb with no such financial connection.
Independent studies showing significantly more weight loss with low carb
These are usually financed with (American) tax dollars:
- Brehm BJ, et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003;88:1617–1623.
- Samaha FF, et al. A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity. N Engl J Med 2003;348:2074–81.
- Sondike SB, et al. Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight adolescents. J Pediatr. 2003 Mar;142(3):253–8.
- Nichols-Richardsson SM, et al. Perceived Hunger Is Lower and Weight Loss Is Greater in Overweight Premenopausal Women Consuming a Low-Carbohydrate/High- Protein vs High-Carbohydrate/Low-Fat Diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005;105:1433–1437.
- Daly ME, et al. Short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in Type 2 diabetes–a randomized controlled trial. Diabet Med. 2006 Jan;23(1):15–20.
- Halyburton AK, et al. Low- and high-carbohydrate weight-loss diets have similar effects on mood but not cognitive performance. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:580-7.
- Gardner CD, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and learn Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women. The a to z Weight Loss Study: A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2007;297:969–977.
- Summer SS, et al. Adiponectin Changes in Relation to the Macronutrient Composition of a Weight-Loss Diet. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Mar 31.
Still winning, 8–0
Please correct me if you find any mistake in the list above. As far as I can see, low carb seems to win studies no matter who finances them.
On the other hand I have still not seen a single study showing significantly less weight loss on low carb. Wonder why?
Progress after all
The debate is still moving ahead in Sweden. Not long ago people claimed that there were no science at all behind low carb. Then they said that the studies that did exist showed no advantage.
Now the media admits that many modern studies demonstrate superior results from low carb – but it’s blamed on a conspiracy by the meat industry.
Perhaps it’s time to face the facts soon.