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Eat Low-Carbohydrate Diets Intermittently for Effective Weight Loss: Editorial

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There are hundreds of diet plans that are being marketed to help people lose weight and maintain good health. Unfortunately most of these diets are either not nutritionally adequate nor can they be sustained for more than a few days or several weeks.

For consumers who would like to lose weight and prevent disease, now there is a study showing that intermittent low carbohydrate diet may be more successful than standard dieting.

Researchers at Genesis Prevention Center at University Hospital in South Manchester, England, found that when individuals were restricted to carbohydrates two days per week compared to a standard diet they had better overall health.

The study coordinator, Michelle Harvie PhD and a dietician, says that for breast cancer prevention, both weight loss and reduced insulin levels are required. Both these are very difficult to achieve with the regular conventional diets. (1)

Michelle Harvie and her colleagues compared three diets over a period of 16 weeks for effects on weight loss and measured insulin as a marker for breast cancer risk among 115 women with a family history of breast cancer.

Patients were randomly assigned to one of the following diets:

1) a calorie-restricted, low-carbohydrate diet for two days per week

2) an "ad lib" low-carbohydrate diet in which patients were permitted to eat unlimited protein and healthy fats, such as lean meats, olives and nuts, also for two days per week

3) a standard, calorie-restricted daily Mediterranean diet for 7-days per week.

The data from the study showed that both intermittent, low-carbohydrate diets were better than the conventional daily Mediterranean diet in lowering weight, body fat and insulin resistance. From these data the researchers concluded that the intermittent diet could also prevent breast cancer.

In my opinion, the results of this intermittent carbohydrate diet are not astounding. The study authors have only followed people for 16 weeks. Whether this weight loss can be sustained is not known. Moreover, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been established in many studies.

Finally, the correlation to breast cancer is too far-reaching and premature. Insulin is a very insensitive non-specific marker for breast cancer. Just because it drops for several days a week for 16 weeks does not mean one will not develop breast cancer. Other than a mammogram, there is no screening test for breast cancer.

For consumers who want to lose weight, the time-honored advice still works -- walk more and eat less. (2) If you remain motivated, you will lose weight. With all these fancy diets, all you will get is disappointment.


SABCS: Carb Counting May Abate Breast Cancer Risk Factors
By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today. Published: December 11, 2011
Retrieved Dec 11, 2011.

Reviewed December 12, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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