Monday, 2 January 2012

Studies confirm LCHF as healthy

As promised in my first post, here is just a little of the evidence showing that low-carb diets, and especially LCHF diets are superior to traditional western diets.

I'll add more to this list as I find them, or as presented to me.

Problems with studies

Regarding studies - it would be unfair of me to exclude the fact that there are many studies that also say low-carb isn't as effective as low-fat diets (for various reasons).  However, after researching those studies - several factors stand out:

First, many that tout low-fat as better than low-carb don't actually study "low-carb".  Almost every study I've seen that denounces low-carb considers 35% of calories from carbohydrate to be low-carb.  Eating 35% of your calories from carbs is under no circumstances low-carb.  When I'm speaking of low-carb diets I'm specifically referring to those that cause person to enter ketosis.  Generally 10% or less of your calories from carbohydrate.  Not 35%.  Without ketosis you lose almost all the fat-loss benefits of low-carb eating.

Some other studies are relying on individual memory and self-reporting of what was eaten over the past year.

Many studies are done with too few subjects to be noteworthy.  (Does studying 11 people, 4 of which drop-out really prove much?)

Some studies don't take into account confounding variables - vegan studies often do this, saying they've reversed heart disease or diabetes on a vegan diet, when they've also included exercise, smoking cessation, stress-reduction training, group therapy and the diets completely eliminate refined/processed carbs and sugars.  When you do all that, claiming meat is the problem is hardly conclusive.

It's also important to note that often the study is both funded and undertaken by a group with vested interests in an outcome.  Low-carb studies are sometimes funded by the meat industry.  Diabetic studies are often funded by drug companies.  The list goes on.  Often these researchers start with a hypothesis and attempt to manipulate data to reach the conclusion they've already decided is correct.  This isn't true science, unfortunately, so all studies must be reviewed to determine if the scientific method was followed before assigning any validity to them.

For those interested in the problems with many studies, and how to spot them yourselves, I highly recommend the talk by Tom Naughton: Science for Smart People

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