Low-Carbohydrate Diets Linked to Increase in Calories Burned

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Total energy expenditure is greater for those on a low- or moderate-carb diet during weight-loss maintenance.
Total energy expenditure is greater for those on a low- or moderate-carb diet during weight-loss maintenance.

HealthDay News — Low dietary carbohydrate intake is associated with increased energy expenditure during weight-loss maintenance, according to a study published online Nov. 14 in The BMJ to coincide with the annual meeting of The Obesity Society (ObesityWeek), held from Nov. 11 to 15 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Cara B. Ebbeling, PhD, from Boston Children's Hospital, and colleagues examined the effect of diets varying in carbohydrate-to-fat ratio on total energy expenditure among 164 adults aged 18 to 65 years with a body mass index of 25 kg/m² or greater. Following weight loss on a run-in diet, participants were randomly assigned to a high, moderate, or low carbohydrate-content diet (60, 40, and 20%, respectively) for 20 weeks (54, 53, and 57 participants, respectively).

The researchers found that in the intention-to-treat analysis, total energy expenditure differed by diet, with a linear trend of 52 kcal/day for every 10% decrease in the contribution of carbohydrates to total energy intake. Compared with the high-carbohydrate diet, participants assigned to the moderate- and low-carbohydrate diets had 91 and 209 kcal/day greater change in total energy expenditure, respectively. The corresponding differences were 131 and 278 kcal/day in the per-protocol analysis. The differences between the low- and high-carbohydrate diets were 308 and 478 kcal/day in the intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses, respectively, among participants in the highest third of pre-weight-loss insulin secretion.

"If metabolic benefits of reduced glycemic load diets are confirmed, development of appropriate behavioral and environmental interventions would be necessary for optimal translation to public health," the authors write.

One author received royalties for books on obesity and nutrition that recommend a low glycemic load diet.

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