Which is better for your heart? Low Carb versus Low FAT
The more we study the more we find that our ancestors where a lot smarter than we are. Being a Caveman means you eat what the good earth provides which is meat and plants. There was no grain, no bread, no processed foods, no high fructose corn syrup and certainly no genetically modified foods. In an article published by the American Medical Association in the Archives of Internal Medicine they reviewed 5 large studies and compared the consumption of a caveman-like, low carb diet to the old tired recommendation of a low fat diet. The low carb diet won hands down. That makes sense on every level that I can imagine. Did you know that experts estimate 80% or more of the cavemen’s diet was fat and protein? So a low fat diet for modern man doesn’t begin to make any sense and numbers prove it. Lets take a closer look at the numbers and appreciate the true differences.
The low carb diet contributed to TWICE the weight loss of a low fat diet. On top of that advantage, participants in the low carb group were far more likely to complete and continue their low carb lifestyle than those on the low fat diet. So it is seemingly more sustainable. Both diets will cause some lose of muscle but the low carb diet resulted in MORE FAT LOSS and better maintenance of lean muscle mass.
Cardiovascular numbers were far better with the low carb diet than the low fat effort. Blood pressure dropped to a greater degree in the low carb group. There was variation in results between studies, and both diets led to a drop in blood pressure, which is what you would expect in anyone losing weight but the low carb group consistently showed slightly better blood pressure numbers.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) is often called the “good” cholesterol because it actually takes bad cholesterol out of the blood vessel walls and returns it to the liver for breakdown and removal from the body. HDL rose significantly in the low carb group by 10 to 20% from baseline. Comparatively the HDL level actually DECREASED in 4 studies, and only increased in one study by a mere 5%. That is a huge difference, as HDL remains one of our best predictive tools for assessing risk for heart attack. The higher your HDL the better. The HDL is far more predictive of heart attack than total cholesterol or LDL (bad cholesterol) so anything that makes HDL move is significant. Just for your own benefit let me share with you that exercise and the consumption of fish oil are two things that consistently raise HDL . . . so go run to the fish market.
Triglycerides represent the actual fat in your blood stream and are also a better predictor of heart disease than total cholesterol. Low carb diets lowered triglyceride levels nearly THREE times better than low fat diets. Low carb dropped triglyceride levels on average 23% from baseline while low fat diets only reduced it by 8.6%.
So what does a low carb diet look like? A low carb diet is not the same as an Atkins diet. There are healthy and unhealthy versions of low carb. We advocate generous intakes of vegetables and whole foods while eliminating grains and bread. For many, the mere mention of removing bread strikes fear and hesitation, which need not be the case. Do yourself a giant favor and simply open your mind to some slow steady steps that modify your diet over time. Employ the help of someone knowledgeable that can offer guidance and a stepwise progression towards better lifestyle ideals. I recommend you contact Chelsea Caito, L.D., R.D. – a registered dietitian with expertise on this very topic. Chelsea is an expert in the physiological mechanism of Metabolic Syndrome and the dynamic between food, carbs, and heart disease. She can offer a proven, well-constructed plan to move towards a healthier heart and smaller pants.
At Huber Personalized Medicine we have all the tools to make this journey an enjoyable and life changing experience. Contact us if we can help you:
- Office (513) 924-5300
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