April 18, 2011
DALLASAdhering to a low-carbohydrate diet is more effective than cutting calories for individuals who want to quickly reduce the amount of fat in their liver, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The findings could have implications for treating diabetes, insulin resistance and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center assigned 18 participants with NAFLD to eat either a low-carbohydrate or a low-calorie diet for 14 days. Participants assigned to the low-carb diet limited their carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams a day for the first seven days. For the final seven days, they switched to frozen meals prepared by UT Southwesterns Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) kitchen that matched their individual food preferences, carbohydrate intake and energy needs. Low-calorie diet participants continued their regular diet and kept a food diary for the four days preceding the study. The CTRC kitchen then used these individual records to prepare all meals during the 14-day study. Researchers limited the total number of calories to roughly 1,200 a day for female participants and 1,500 a day for males.
After two weeks, the study participants on the low-carb diet lost more liver fat. Both the low-calorie dieters and the low-carbohydrate dieters lost an average of 10 pounds.
This is not a long-term study, and I dont think that low-carb diets are fundamentally better than low-fat ones," said Dr. Jeffrey Browning, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and the studys lead author. Our approach is likely to be only of short-term benefit because at some point the benefits of weight loss alone trounce any benefits derived from manipulating dietary macronutrients such as calories and carbohydrates. Weight loss, regardless of the mechanism, is currently the most effective way to reduce liver fat."
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