Diet and Nutrition Claims

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The Claim: Cutting Carbs Helps You Lose Weight

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Despite all the complicated explanations offered by various diet plans, weight comes down to simple math. If you take in more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you consume fewer, you lose weight. In general, it doesn't matter whether those calories come from carbs, fat, or protein.

Support for this idea comes from more than a dozen randomized trials that have compared various types of diets. Though some show that low-carb diets result in greater weight loss during the first six months, any advantages disappear after one year.

In a longer-term study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 800 overweight adults were randomly assigned to one of four diets, each with a different percentage of carbs, fat, and protein. Calories were also restricted. After two years, all four groups had lost the same amount of weight--about nine pounds on average.

Likewise, in a two-year randomized study that pitted a low-carb diet against a low-fat diet, the low-carb eaters lost no more weight. However, they did have a greater increase in their HDL (good) cholesterol levels. On the other hand, they were more likely to experience side effects such as bad breath, hair loss, constipation, and dry mouth.

The bottom line: Carbohydrates aren't the main cause of weight gain, and you don't have to shun them to shed pounds.

Learn more about Coffee Is Good for You.

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Reprinted from Coffee Is Good for You by Robert J. Davis, PhD, by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2012 by Robert J. Davis, PhD, MPH

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About the Author

Robert Davis, Ph.D.

Robert J. Davis, PhD is President and Editor-in-Chief of Everwell.

An award-winning health journalist whose work has appeared on CNN, PBS, WebMD and in The Wall Street Journal, he is the author of The Healthy Skeptic: Cutting Through the Hype About Your Health and Coffee Is Good for You. He also teaches at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.
Davis holds a PhD in health policy from Brandeis University, where he was a Pew Fellow, a master's degree in public health from Emory, and an undergraduate degree from Princeton University.

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