Low-Carb Diets Combat Metabolic Syndrome
Mar. 23 -- FRIDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- A low-carbohydrate diet helps people with a condition called metabolic syndrome, a collection of serious risk factors found in some obese individuals.
Now, a new study confirms the diet is effective against the syndrome, and the researchers think they've discovered how it works.
Eating a low-carb diet improves the hormonal signaling involved in obesity and improves the sense of fullness, allowing weight loss, according to study leader Matthew R. Hayes, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.
"There is this strong interest in the field in carb-restricted diets in the treatment of obesity," said Hayes, who conducted the research while a doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University. "That [interest] comes from a number of controlled clinical trials that demonstrate overweight or obese people, maintained on low-carb diets, are successful if they adhere to the diet."
"It's definitely a hot debate in the field," Hayes added, whether the diets work. "We wanted to look at not only if it worked but how."
People with metabolic syndrome struggle with excessive abdominal fat; low levels of HDL -- good -- cholesterol; and insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, in which the body doesn't properly use insulin or blood sugar. Metabolic syndrome raises the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, according to the American Heart Association.
Hayes and his colleagues studied 20 men and women with metabolic syndrome, instructing them to follow a low-carb diet similar to the popular South Beach Diet. For phase one, which lasted two weeks, the study participants were told to get 10 percent of their calories from carbohydrates. For phase 2, which lasted the remaining 10 weeks of the study, they were told to eat up to 27 percent carbs.
"The subjects did lose weight, and they lost total body fat. Their weight was a little over 200 pounds when the study started. By the end of the study, the subjects weighed about 193, 194. They lost close to 10 pounds during the three-month study."