A recent study from the University of Alabama found that you can lose 11% body fat and become healthier in only 8 weeks on a low-carb, egg based diet.
And you don’t have to count calories.
I know it sounds like some sensational advertisement for a new weight loss program; however, this study claims that it’s true.
When this study came out, I wasn’t totally surprised by its finding.
Barbara and I have been on a similar diet for about 3 months, and the results have been equally amazing.
Let’s take a look at the study, and, in the following weeks, I’ll relate our success with a gluten-free, low-carb, healthy fat diet.
The University of Alabama Study On The Effect Of An Egg-Based Low-Carb Diet
The University of Alabama study was comprised of 26 men and women between the ages of 60 to 75.
The aim of the study was to determine if,
…consumption of an egg-based lower-CHO (carbohydrate) / high-fat diet (EBD) vs a standard CHO-based/low-fat diet (STD) results in loss of total and visceral fat, preservation of lean mass, and improvements insulin resistance and the lipid profile.
The subjects were then randomly separated into two groups.
Group 1: This group consumed a low-carbohydrate/high-fat diet containing less than 25% of the energy from carbohydrates, more than 50% from fat and 25% of the energy from protein.
They were asked to consume 3 eggs per day, and they were not required to restrict their caloric intake.
Group 2: This group consumed a standard CHO-based/low-fat diet (STD) with equal amounts of protein (25%), but 55% of the energy from carbohydrates and only 20% from fat.
This group was provided breakfast bars to consume, and they also were not required to restrict their caloric intake.
Both groups were on these respective diets for 8 weeks.
Let’s look at the results.
Results Of The Study
The results of the study are quite revealing. They are as follows.
1. Fat Loss
The EBD group experienced an 11% loss in body fat compared to the STD carbohydrate group.
However, what may be a more significant health result was the amount of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) lost on the EBD.
2. VAT Loss
The EBD group lost almost 3 times as much VAT than the standard carbohydrate group.
VAT is also known as abdominal visceral fat or belly fat.
It’s not the fat found around your body that you can pinch between your fingers. That’s subcutaneous fat.
Subcutaneous fat might not look nice, but it doesn’t cause serious metabolic issues.
Visceral fat is the fat found around your midsection that is firmer to the touch and lies deeper within the abdomen.
It’s particularly dangerous because it has a tendency to accumulate around internal organs.
The EBD Group Also Demonstrated Better Metabolic Results
Besides showing a greater increase in total fat and VAT loss, the EBD group also showed better metabolic results compared to the standard carbohydrate diet.
The EBD resulted in:
1. Decreased insulin resistance
2. Decrease in triglycerides levels
3. Increase in HDL levels
Analysis Of The EBD Study
Even though the study was rather small, the results of the EBD study confirmed what current research is discovering about low-carb/high-fat diets (LCHF).
When it comes to weight loss and improved metabolic markers, LCHF diets perform better than high-carb/ low-fat diets.
Authority In Nutrition recently analyzed data from 23 studies comparing LCHF diets versus low-fat diets. Low-fat diets are naturally higher in carb content than LCHF diets.
They found that LCHF diets were superior to low-fat diets in the following areas:
1. Weight loss
2. Raising HDL levels
3. Reducing triglyceride levels
4. Improving HbA1c (a marker of blood sugar control) with a good compliance to the diet
5. Lowering visceral abdominal fat
A further analysis of the studies also found no serious side effects from an LCHF diet.
Is There Weight Loss Magic In Eggs?
In the EBD low-carb diet, the inclusion of eggs probably functioned primarily as a substitute for refined carbs and added sugars.
However, there might be more to the story.
Eggs contain very little carbs and are packed with protein and healthy fats.
They are not, as once described by nutritionists, “cholesterol containing bombs” that contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Further, for most people, there is no evidence that dietary cholesterol has any effect on serum cholesterol.
Unfortunately, there is a small population of people who are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol levels from dietary consumption of cholesterol.
Research Has Suggested That Eggs Have Heart Healthy Effects
Several studies have also found that the consumption of eggs has been associated with anti-CVD effects.
Eggs Are Filling And Decrease Your Desire To Snack
Interestingly eggs rank high on a scale called the satiety index. This scale measures how full you’ll feel when consuming one food as compared to others.
If you consume foods higher on the scale, then you’ll fuller than if you consumed foods lower on the scale.
This means that you won’t be as hungry. And if you’re not hungry, then you won’t feel the need to eat. Thus, you’ll lower your caloric intake.
The EBD Diet Study Was Not Calorie Restricted
You’ll notice in the above study that as long as the participants adhered to the specified macro-nutrient template, there was no restriction on caloric intake. In other words, they didn’t count calories.
This did leave an important question unanswered. How many grams of carbohydrates were actually consumed by each group?
This is important because some low-carb diets are more restrictive than others. For example:
- A liberal low-carb diet will contain between 50-100 grams per day
- A moderate low-carb diet will contain between 20-50 grams per day
- A ketogenic low-carb diet will contain <20 grams of carbs per day
The different carb content of the above diets will affect how much weight is lost and how well metabolic issues (e.g., type 2 diabetes) will improve. See here.
Also, when speaking of a high-fat diet, this doesn’t mean that all fats are healthy. Low-carb diets are high in healthy fats.
Why Did Both Groups Lose Weight If Calories Were Not Restricted?
If both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, why did they both lose weight?
We can only assume that the standard carb group was on a significantly better diet than the obesogenic standard American diet.
Even though the participants could consume as many calories as they wanted, both groups had to stick to their macronutrient template.
Since the researchers guided the participants’ adherence to this template, the researchers may have directed the participants to avoid foods that tend to increase weight-gain such as refined grains or sugar.
The Bottom Line
The above study is in line with previous studies that indicate that LCHF diets are superior at causing weight loss and improving metabolic markers than high-carb, low-fat diets.
Also, eggs appear to be one of our God given superfoods and can be an important addition to an LCHF diet.
In my next post, I’ll look at some of the theories on why LCHF diets are successful, and then I’ll discuss my experience and Barbara’s with the diet.
If you have any comments, we would love to hear them.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of our favorite egg recipes. Yes, it’s definitely GF and low-carb.
Frittata with Goat Cheese, Leeks and Sage. Get the recipe here.
More egg based recipes
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