Could a 2-Day Per Week Low-Carb Diet Really Make a Difference?This one is fascinating. 115 women were randomly divided into three groups. One group was put on a 1500 calorie per day Mediterranean-type diet. The other two groups spent two days per week on low-carb diets (50 grams of carb or less). One of these was also very low in calories for the two days (650 calories) and the other could eat whatever other foods they wanted (low saturated fat encouraged, other fats fine). Results? The 2-day low-carb groups lost more weight over the 4 months (9 pounds as compared to 5 for the Mediterrean group). And insulin levels were more reduced in the low-carb groups (18% as compared to 4% in the Mediterranean group). Lower insulin levels are associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.
I'll admit this really surprised me. I have read some indicators that even normalizing blood sugar for a relatively short period of time (like two weeks) can have a longer-term positive effect on the body. But two days per week? Usually people don't begin to really love low-carb eating until after their bodies adjust which takes at least a few days, and often a week or two. Also, one of the great things about low-carb eating is the lack of cravings, and I don't think that could be accomplished on two days per week. One of the researchers did mention that people tended to change their eating on other days of the week as time went on. I'd love to know more details about this. Hopefully it will be published so we can all read it. The other attention-getting result was that the low-calorie low-carb group did exactly as well as the low-carb group where calories weren't restricted.
Starch May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer RecurranceThis is the odd one,from the same conference. I almost didn't report on this one, but it is in the news so I decided to throw it in, as a lesson in "don't cheer just because you like the headline". Not that it surprises me that lowering carbs may have an effect on cancer; as I said, we have had preliminary evidence of that in other studies, and there are reasons to believe that it may be true, e.g. the insulin connection mentioned above. It's that according to the LA Times, the people who were more at risk for recurrence increased their carb intake by less than three grams, while the ones with the lower risk lowered their carb intake by that same amount. It defies credibility that that little a change could have an impact. (For contrast, a small potato has 30 grams of carb.) So I don't think this really adds to our knowledge, and I'm not at all excited about it. But hopefully some controlled research can come out of it that will tell us more.
Photo © Karen Struthers
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