Mediterranean and low-carb diets

(Versión en español: pinchar aquí)

Today Centinel linked in a comment2008 study in which three diets were compared: Mediterranean, low-carb and low-fat. I am not going to explain what the study says because it can be read on the website of Centinel. What follows is not intended to be an answer for Centinel, as he only wanted to give me an example of a long-term study, or at least longer than the one we were discussing.

«Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet» (2008 study)

So, I was curious to know how many carbohydrates per day were eating the subjects in the «low-carb» group of the study. But I couldn’t find that value. The authors explained what they recommended to the participants to eat, but I couldn’t find the actual carb consumption data. Nor have I found the amount of Calories the participants were eating at the baseline, i.e. before starting the study. But the authors gave us other information about the low-carb group:

  • At 24 months the reduction in Calories was 550, compared to the «baseline»
  • At baseline 50.8% of the calories came from carbs. At 24 months the percentage was 40.4%
  • At 24 months they ate 129.8 grams of carbs less than at the baseline

OK. May be it is not that obvious, but the above data is enough to compute what I want to know, being that how many carbs/day ate the «low-carb» group in this study. If we name Y the Total Calories at the baseline and X the total carbs in grams at the same time, we have:


And a little algebraic manipulation leads to the following values:

Baseline 24-months
Total Calories 2855,8 2305,8
Calories from carbs 1450,7 931,5
Carbs (g) 362,7 232,9

That is, in the baseline Y = 2856 Calories and X =363 grams of carbs/day. At 24 months carb intake was 233 grams/day. Wow!

My conclusion: I don’t care what the results of that study say, because that is NOT a low-carb diet . But of course the study has been used to tell us that the Mediterranean diet can also be used to lose weight, like a low-carb diet, or that in the end all diets are equal for losing weight. No way. To prove that you’re as good or better than someone, you have to face the real deal, not a straw man.

It is useful to cry over spilt milk

It is a 2008 study, but is still used as a reference for promoting lies about nutrition. We don’t need to go too far to find examples: this week a meta-analysis («Comparison of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs in Overweight and Obese Adults«) has been published, and it includes the results for the «low-carb» group of the 2008 study (see). After all the juggling, excluding and accepting the data as it suited their agenda, the authors of the meta-analysis concluded, with all impudence, that low-fat diets give the same results than low-carb diets for weight loss. Yeah, sure they do, but, in what alternate universe? Do these «scientifics» happen to know a single obese person who has lost weight in the long term with a low-fat low-calorie diet? But the damage is already done and the Calories In Calories Out apostles have lost no time insisting once more on their fantasy about losing weight being a matter of just reducing calories.

Further reading:

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