Why do low-carb dieters fail in the long-term?

This video is pretty convincing that they do fail to reach or maintain adequate fitness:

However, I don't quite understand the causes. Why do they fail where high-carb dieters do not?

(Is this the right subforum to post this question?)

Comments

  • @maxb

    I've been working in the field of weight management for about 8 years now and what I can say on the topic is that the best diet is the one that you can follow for the rest of your life.

    When it comes down to it, weight loss happens because we are burning more calories than we are consuming. At some point, we plateau because we can no longer cut-back/burn more calories (plus, metabolism tends to decrease with weight loss).

    What I've noticed in practice is that low-carb followers lose +++ weight off the start (a combination of weight and water). However, following this initial weight loss, things start to plateau and many people get frustrated that the effort isn't worth the outcome.

    In addition, it can be difficult to attend social events as a low-carb eater, since it triggers feelings of deprivation.

    Hope this provides some additional insight!

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • @maxb

    I'm not a low carb advocate. In fact, I think low carb diets can be uniquely dangerous for a number of reasons. However, low carb diets are not really obesogenic diets. In the literature, carbohydrate-restriction generally produces more reliable reductions in calorie intake in free-living humans when compared to most other diets. This video is basically just propaganda, and it's no way to conduct any sort of proper comparative analysis.

    If people don't want to track their calories, they have to eat according to heuristics in order to lose weight. Carbohydrate-restriction is a powerful heuristic because of just how profoundly restrictive it is. However, fat-restriction is also a very powerful heuristic, but much harder to implement in practice. Fat-restriction is just much more complicated and hard to manage. As a result, low fat diets don't tend to do as well in the literature. However, in a recent study called DIETFITS, low carb diets and low fat diets produced the same amount of weight loss. The only difference was that participants were allowed to self-select and customize their diet to best suit their personal preferences.

    So, the real question for personal weight loss is what heuristic can you adhere to the best and most reliably over time. Preferably something you can do indefinitely. For me, a low carb diet didn't make me gain weight, but it certainly impeded my weight loss progress. The diet I'm on right now, which is relatively fat-restricted, allows me to maintain a caloric deficit more easily. In order to lose weight, you almost need a dietary villain to work against. People seem to need a boogeyman, even if you know deep down that it is irrational. Whether it's carbs, fat, calories, animal flesh, gluten, grains, ethics, cholesterol, saturated fat, PUFA, you name it. Being spooked out by your food tends to induce weight loss. Just pick your boogeyman and call it a day.

  • @BRBWaffles

    I find the video very convincing (Seeing is believing and all that. Anyone can CLAIM that their method is effective)

    Can you cite any study that tracked low-carb vs low-fat dieters for more than 5 years?

  • @maxb

    If you're convinced by a video like that then I think any research that could be cited, even if it existed, wouldn't be likely to persuade you. Your standards for what constitutes credible evidence are unreasonably low, and your standards for what constitutes credible counter-evidence is unreasonably high.

  • @BRBWaffles

    Why? That's ad hominem.

    You said "in the literature", but failed to actually link any relevant long-term study.

    DIETFITS was just 12 months. The title of this thread has "long-term" in it. If you have no evidence for your claims, you shouldn't make them.

  • @BRBWaffles

    The forum isn't letting me post direct links, it seems, but here's what Harvard's Medical School wrote about the Keto diet this year:

    We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time.

    So maybe it's not my standards of evidence that are poorly adjusted.

  • @maxb

    Why? That's ad hominem.

    No it's not. I'm not attacking you personally. I'm criticizing your standards because they don't make any sense.

    You said "in the literature", but failed to actually link any relevant long-term study.

    "Long term" is relative. Virta has decent two-year weight loss data on people using ketogenic diets. DIETFITS followed people for 12 months. The A to Z Study followed people for 12 months. DIRECT's trial lasted two years as well. This study also saw sustained weight loss after two years. To date there are no five-year trials that I'm aware of, but the direction of the literature leans heavily toward the trend that sustained weight loss is a matter of dietary compliance. Compliance among low-carb diets seems to be fine over time, and not uniquely worse.

    So maybe it's not my standards of evidence that are poorly adjusted.

    When I read your comments, all I read was this: "This random YouTube video that presents no actual data at all is persuasive to me. You're unlikely to persuade me otherwise unless you can provide me with five-year prospective or trial data".

    Sorry, but that's not a reasonable perspective to have. You'd be hard-pressed to find a study duration of that length with any diet. However, the bulk of the most highly powered literature suggests that low-carb diets lead to weight loss that is durable throughout the duration of the study period in free-living humans. At the very least, on balance, the literature does not suggest that adherence uniquely wanes with low-carb diets.

    Again, I'm not a fan of low-carb diets and I'm highly skeptical of their long-term safety. However, it's absolutely undeniable that they're an effective tool for weight loss.

  • Be cool mate...You can explain in much calm way..So just stay calm.Peace!

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