June 17th, 2010 in Shape

Q. If I am trying to lose weight, is a low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diet more effective?

A. To lose a modest amount of weight quickly, low-carbohydrate diets can be very effective. Carbohydrate intake can sometimes contribute to water retention; therefore by limiting carbohydrate intake in the short term, a modest diuresis (water loss) may occur, contributing to weight loss. Additionally, when carbohydrates are severely restricted, the body enters ketosis, whereby fat loss occurs rapidly to provide energy for the body (since glucose is not available). However, low-carbohydrate diets are very difficult to stick with and over the long term (one year or longer) there is no significant difference in total pounds lost among individuals pursuing low-calorie versus low- carbohydrate diets.

-- Dr. Jessica G. Scotchie, Tennessee

Center for Medical Weight Loss; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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