Low-fat, Low-carb, Or Low-glycemic? Study Shows Which Is Best To Keep Weight Off

By Joy Bauer, TODAY nutrition expert

Cutting-edge research from Boston Childrens Hospital suggests that the type of diet you eat may affect your metabolism[1], a finding that has important implications for weight maintenance. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association[2] this week, the study looked at three popular diets (low-carb, low-glycemic, and low-fat) to see which combination of fat, carbs, and protein was the best for people trying to maintain a previous weight loss.

Kent Gilbert / AP file

Low-glycemic carbs like beans, lentils, and non-starchy vegetables take a long time for the body to absorb and appear to be more effective at satisfying hunger.

Because decreases in metabolism can contribute to weight regain, the researchers aimed to see which eating plan worked best with the bodys internal mechanisms to rev up dieters calorie burn and help them keep the weight off.

The low-glycemic diet emerged as the top-performing plan, giving people a significant metabolic boost without causing undesirable side effects. Participants burned approximately 125 more calories per day while following the low-glycemic plan compared to when eating a low-fat diet. While the low-carb diet had an even better effect on metabolism than the low-glycemic plan, the low-carb diet also produced the highest levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and CRP (a marker of inflammation). These factors may raise the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

The low-glycemic diet offered a happy medium. It helped stabilize blood sugar and metabolism, and also had a beneficial impact on inflammation, stress hormones, and other heart-health markers.

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A low-glycemic diet focuses on choosing the right types of carbohydrates that keep us feeling fuller for longer.  High-glycemic carbs like white bread, white rice, potatoes and sugary baked goods are digested quickly and cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar, leaving the body hungry and less satisfied.  On the other hand, lower-glycemic carbs like beans, lentils, and non-starchy vegetables take a long time for the body to absorb and appear to be more effective at satisfying hunger, leading you to eat less and potentially lose weight. A low-glycemic diet includes moderate amounts of fiber-rich beans, lentils, non-starchy vegetables, fruit and whole grains, as well as lean proteins (fish, skinless poultry, whole soy) and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, vegetables oils).

A typical breakfast for the participants adhering to the low-glycemic index diet consisted of a scrambled egg, whole grain cereal, 1% milk, grapefruit sections, and sunflower seeds.  A sample lunch includes a mixed salad with olive oil vinaigrette, chili with beans, orange slices and yogurt, while dinner might feature fish, green beans, a mixed salad and a small portion of pasta with olive oil. Snacks included fresh fruit and string cheese.

A low-glycemic diet is a smart, healthy, manageable way to lose weight and keep it off for the long-term. If youre looking to give this plan a try, be sure to take advantage of this handy low-glycemic shopping list[3] created by researchers at Boston Childrens Hospital.

For more smart weight loss info, follow Joy on Facebook[4] and Twitter[5], and visit her website at Joybauer.com[6].

More diet and nutrition stories from TODAY Health:

Read a month’s worth of Joy’s weight-loss tips[7]

Popcorn as healthy as veggies? Depends how you pop it[8]

Video: Joy’s tips for feeling fuller at lunch time[9]

TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer’s new book, “The Joy Fit Club,” features some of the most inspiring success stories from club members who each lost more than 100 pounds. She shares some of these diet superstars’ best diet advice.



  1. ^ the type of diet you eat may affect your metabolism (todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com)
  2. ^ Journal of the American Medical Association (jama.jamanetwork.com)
  3. ^ low-glycemic shopping list (childrenshospital.org)
  4. ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  5. ^ Twitter (twitter.com)
  6. ^ Joybauer.com (www.joybauer.com)
  7. ^ Read a month’s worth of Joy’s weight-loss tips (todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com)
  8. ^ Popcorn as healthy as veggies? Depends how you pop it (todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com)
  9. ^ Video: Joy’s tips for feeling fuller at lunch time (www.msnbc.msn.com)

Original Story Here


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    • June 30, 2012

    Help With Teen Fat Loss Tips? I am 16, about 5 foot 6 and weigh about 128 pounds. I know I am a healthy weight, but I wish to get rid of the fat around my stomach.

    I have been running twice daily, totally 30 mins a day, and I have been eating healthier.

    Any tips on how to lose the fat around my stomach? Personal weight loss stories welcome.

      • HealthNut
      • June 30, 2012

      I’m 15 and last summer I tried to lose weight. Well I did but I gained it back because after school when I get home I eat chips. XD So anyway. What I did was, I avoided bread and rice and other foods like that ’cause I hear they can cause fat even if they’re healthy. And then try doing other kinds of exercise. I did 40 mins. of exercise 4x a week including using the jump rope, using my aunt’s elliptical trainer, dancing, doing sit ups & stuff. So like in 40 minutes I get to do a whole lot of different kinds of exercise. And drink lots of water. Like if you’re hungry, but it isn’t exactly time for breakfast lunch or dinner yet, just drink a whole lot of water. Your belly might get big from drinking that much, but once you pee, it all comes out. You don’t gain fat from water, I think.

      So that was what I did. I didn’t really measure my weight tho, because what I was aiming for was a smaller waistline, and I was able to do so. I think I lost like 4-5 inches in like a month & a half. I was happy with that. Too bad I have to do it all over again because I gained it back when school started again. XD Also keep a tally of your weight for every two weeks. And you can see if it works or not.

      Good luck! 🙂 Hope I helped.

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      • HealthNut
      • June 30, 2012

      Drink plenty of water every day
      At the table vary your choices
      Always make a healthy breakfast and avoid skipping meals
      Consume at least 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of vegetables every day
      In a balanced diet of cereals (bread, pasta, rice etc..) Should be consumed daily
      Eat fish at least 2 times a week (fresh or frozen)
      Remember that legumes provide protein and fiber of good quality
      Limit your intake of fats, especially those of animal origin, preferring the extra virgin olive oil
      Do not exceed the amount of salt
      Limit your intake of sweets and drinks to heat during the day
      Above Avoid diets DIY and always ask your doctor to …..; /

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