Category Archives: Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet

Low-Carb High-Fat Diet OK for Heart

Photo by Malidate Van on Pexels.com

Mainstream physicians are still hesitant to recommend low-carb diets because they are usually high in fat, potentially with heart-toxic levels of saturated fats. A recent scientific article supported low-carb eating for heart health.

Link to article

ABSTRACT

Background

Carbohydrate restriction shows promise for diabetes, but concerns regarding high saturated fat content of low-carbohydrate diets limit widespread adoption.Objectives

This preplanned ancillary study aimed to determine how diets varying widely in carbohydrate and saturated fat affect cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors during weight-loss maintenance.

Methods

After 10–14% weight loss on a run-in diet, 164 participants (70% female; BMI = 32.4 ± 4.8 kg/m2) were randomly assigned to 3 weight-loss maintenance diets for 20 wk. The prepared diets contained 20% protein and differed 3-fold in carbohydrate (Carb) and saturated fat as a proportion of energy (Low-Carb: 20% carbohydrate, 21% saturated fat; Moderate-Carb: 40%, 14%; High-Carb: 60%, 7%). Fasting plasma samples were collected prerandomization and at 20 wk. Lipoprotein insulin resistance (LPIR) score was calculated from triglyceride-rich, high-density, and low-density lipoprotein particle (TRL-P, HDL-P, LDL-P) sizes and subfraction concentrations (large/very large TRL-P, large HDL-P, small LDL-P). Other outcomes included lipoprotein(a), triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, adiponectin, and inflammatory markers. Repeated measures ANOVA was used for intention-to-treat analysis.

Results

Retention was 90%. Mean change in LPIR (scale 0–100) differed by diet in a dose-dependent fashion: Low-Carb (–5.3; 95% CI: –9.2, –1.5), Moderate-Carb (–0.02; 95% CI: –4.1, 4.1), High-Carb (3.6; 95% CI: –0.6, 7.7), P = 0.009. Low-Carb also favorably affected lipoprotein(a) [–14.7% (95% CI: –19.5, –9.5), –2.1 (95% CI: –8.2, 4.3), and 0.2 (95% CI: –6.0, 6.8), respectively; P = 0.0005], triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, large/very large TRL-P, large HDL-P, and adiponectin. LDL cholesterol, LDL-P, and inflammatory markers did not differ by diet.

Conclusions

A low-carbohydrate diet, high in saturated fat, improved insulin-resistant dyslipoproteinemia and lipoprotein(a), without adverse effect on LDL cholesterol. Carbohydrate restriction might lower CVD risk independently of body weight, a possibility that warrants study in major multicentered trials powered on hard outcomes.

Parker here. These findings are no surprise to me.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Advanced Mediterranean Diet (2nd Ed.) includes a low-carb option.

PPS: Ketogenic diets are all low-carb.

Parade Says Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet is the Best for Heart Health

Parade.com has an article touting the health benefits of a low-carb high-fat Mediterranean diet. Can you believe they didn’t even mention my books?!

In fairness to my readers, I must mention that I scanned the referenced AJCN article and didn’t see “Mediterranean” in it.

From Parade:

“If you’re looking to improve your heart health, you may want to try eating a low-carb, high-fat Mediterranean diet. Why? Because a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a low-carb (no more than 20% of daily calories from carbs), the high fat-style Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). For the study, obese study participants reported both improved insulin resistance and cholesterol levels compared to those who ate a moderate carb (40%) or high carb (60%) diet over a five-month period.”

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet is obviously low-carb, and is included in both The Advanced Mediterranean Diet (2nd Ed.) and Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes.

front cover of Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes

Click to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book also available at Smashwords.com.

Who Says the Mediterranean Diet Is Best?

U.S. News and World Report once again ranks the Mediterranean diet #1 in Best Overall Diets:

It’s generally accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods. The Mediterranean Diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean Diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.

Source: What is the Mediterranean Diet? Best Diet Overall | U.S. News

I can’t find a date at the source URL but I think it was January , 2021,

Steve Parker, M.D.

front cover of Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes

Click to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book also available at Smashwords.com.

Improve Weight Loss on a Mediterranean Diet By Restricting Breakfast Carbohydrates

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean DIet

Naturally low-carb Caprese salad: mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil

Reducing carbohydrate content of breakfast improved weight loss on a calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet. Both diets in the study at hand were calorie restricted Mediterranean diets but only one of them restricted carbs at breakfast. Unfortunately the abstract does not mention the degree of calorie restriction nor the the AM carb restriction.

From the abstract of the study at hand:

Methods

Seventy overweight/obese individuals were randomized to two hypocaloric dietary regimens: one Mediterranean diet (Med-D) and one morning carbohydrate-restriction diet (MCR-D). Participants assigned to the MCR-D were permitted to consume a breakfast low in carbohydrate content, whereas typical Mediterranean morning meals were allowed in the Med-D group. Both diets were identical from midday on. Participants were followed over a period of 2 mo.

Results

Individuals in both groups achieved significant reductions in body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and body fat mass. These reductions were more pronounced in the MCR-D than in the Med-D group (all P < 0.001). More participants in the MCR-D group achieved loss of 5% to 10% of body weight by the end of the first month, as well as 5% to 10% and >10% of body weight by the end of the second month (all P < 0.001). All participants achieved loss of ≥5% baseline body weight by the end of the intervention. Both groups achieved similar reductions in fasting serum glucose, glycated hemoglobin, and serum triacylglycerols as well as improvement in insulin sensitivity. Individuals in the Med-D group showed reductions in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, whereas no such effect was observed in the MCR-D group.

Conclusions

Integration of morning carbohydrate restriction into a Mediterranean-type hypocaloric diet resulted in greater weight loss while retaining metabolic benefits in glycemia-related parameters.

Source: Carbohydrate restriction in the morning increases weight loss effect of a hypocaloric Mediterranean type diet: a randomized, parallel group dietary intervention in overweight and obese subjects – ScienceDirect

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords. com.

If Gut Bacteria Cause Alzheimer’s Dementia, What If You Alter Those Bacteria?

The short answer? We don’t know the answer to either of those questions.

Low-carb salad

The gut bacteria (aka microbiome) seem to be able to decrease or increase inflammation that could cause or exacerbate Alzheimer’s dementia. The  microbiome’s effect on inflammation depends on the species of bacteria present, and the amount of those bacteria. At least one study found that Alzheimer’s patients have a greater abundance of the pro-inflammatory species and less of the anti-inflammatory species, compared to other folks.

Researchers with Wake Forest School of Medicine tried to find answers to the questions in the title of this post. (Click for full text.) They studied 17 experimental subjects, average age 64, who had mild cognitive impairment (11) or “cogni/subjective memory complaints” (6). God bless them for submitting to three spinal taps apiece. The experimental diets were 1) Mediterranean-Ketogenic (under 20 g carb/day), or 2) Low-fat American Heart Association diet (under 40 g fat/day). Participants were on each diet for six weeks.

The investigators didn’t find anything useful for those of us trying today to avoid Alzheimer’s or prevent the progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia. Their bottom line is, “The data suggest that specific gut microbial signatures may depict [characterize] the mild cognitive impairment and that the modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet can modulate the gut microbiome and metabolites in association with improved Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid.”

So we won’t know for several more years, if ever, whether intentional modification of diet will “improve” our gut microbiomes, leading to lower risk of dementia.

What we have known for many year, however, is that the traditional Mediterranean diet is linked to lower risk of Alzhiemer’s dementia.

For more details, see Science Daily:

In a small pilot study, the researchers identified several distinct gut microbiome signatures — the chemicals produced by bacteria — in study participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) but not in their counterparts with normal cognition, and found that these bacterial signatures correlated with higher levels of markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the cerebrospinal fluid of the participants with MCI.

Through cross-group dietary intervention, the study also showed that a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet produced changes in the gut microbiome and its metabolites that correlated with reduced levels of Alzheimer’s markers in the members of both study groups.

Source: Diet’s effect on gut bacteria could play role in reducing Alzheimer’s risk — ScienceDaily

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diets in one book, including the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

Click the pic to purchase the world’s first practical ketogenic Mediterranean diet at Amazon.com

 

Forty Years of Dietary Advice Was Wrong

Dr. Axel Sigurdsson is a cardiologist who focuses his blogging on cardiovascular disease and lipid disorders. I bet he agrees with me that dietary saturated fat is not the malevolent force we were taught in medical school.

From his blog:

“The [PURE study] suggests that placing carbohydrates at the bottom of the food pyramid based on their effect on blood cholesterol was a mistake. In fact, the data show that replacing dietary carbohydrates with different types of fat may improve lipid profile.

In an interview on Medscape, Dr. Mahshid Dehghan, the principal author of the abstract said: “To summarize our findings, the most adverse effect on blood lipids is from carbohydrates; the most benefit is from consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids; and the effect of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are mixed. I believe this is a big message that we can give because we are confusing people with a low-fat diet and all the complications of total fat consumption, and WHO and AHA all suggest 55% to 60% of energy from carbohydrates.”

Today, most experts agree that diets high in saturated fatty acids or refined carbohydrates are not be recommended for the prevention of heart disease. However, it appears that carbohydrates are likely to cause a greater metabolic damage than saturated fatty acids in the rapidly growing population of people with metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity and insulin resistance.”

Source: High Carbohydrate Intake Worse than High Fat for Blood Lipids

PS: A diet naturally high in monounsaturated fat is one you may have heard of: the Mediterranean diet. The Advanced Mediterranean Diet (2nd Ed.) contains both a low-carb Mediterranean diet and a portion-controlled traditional Mediterranean diet.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one

Recipe: Apple, Pecan, Blueberry Lunch Bowl

paleobetic diet, diabetic diet, low-carb diet

So simple even a redneck can make it (I is a redneck)

Since I provide you with nutritional analysis below, you can easily work this meal into the Advanced Mediterranean DietLow-Carb Mediterranean Diet, or KMD: Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

Ingredients:

2.5 oz (70 g) apple, diced (“red delicious” variety works well) (this is half a medium-sized apple)

2.5 oz (70 g) pecans, crumbled into small pieces

2.5 oz (70 g) raw blueberries

Instructions:

Mix all together in a bowl, then enjoy. I know a lotta you bros will just eat all the components individually—but try the mix once for new flavors.

Servings: 1

Advanced Mediterranean Diet boxes: 1.5 fruit, 2 fat

Nutritional Analysis:

76% fat

20% carb

4% protein

570 calories

30 g carbohydrate

10 g fiber

20 g digestible carb

1.4 mg sodium

421 mg potassium

Prominent features: Quick and easy. Rich in copper, manganese, and thiamine. Inadequate protein to get you through the day, but you’ll make up for it at breakfast or dinner.

Mediterranean Diet Helps With Maintenance of Weight Loss After Ketogenic Diet

Italian seaside tangentially related to this post

Italian seaside tangentially related to this post

Investigators affiliated with universities in Italy and Greece wondered about the effect on obesity of two ketogenic “Mediterranean” diet spells interspersed with a traditional Mediterranean diet over the course of one year. They found significant weight loss, and perhaps more importantly, no regain of lost weight over the year, on average.

This scientific study is right up my alley. I was excited when I found it. Less excited after I read it.

The Set-Up

This was a retrospective review of medical records of patients of a private nutritional service in three fitness and weight control centers in Italy between 2006 and 2010. It’s unclear whether patients were paying for fitness/weight loss services. 327 patient records were examined. Of these, 89 obese participants met the inclusion and exclusion criteria and started the program; 68 completed it and were the ones analyzed. (That’s not at all a bad drop-out rate for a year-long study.)  The completers were 59 males and 12 females (I know, the numbers don’t add up, but that’s what they reported). Ages were between 25 and 65. Average weight was 101 kg (222 lb), average BMI 35.8, average age 49. All were Caucasian. No diabetics.

Here’s the program:

  1. 20 days of a very-low-carb ketogenic diet, then
  2. 20 days of a low-carbohydrate non-ketogenic diet for stabilization, then
  3. 4 months of a normal caloric Mediterranean diet, then
  4. repeat #1 and #2, then
  5. 6 months of a normal caloric Mediterranean diet

In the ketogenic phases, which the authors referred to as KEMEPHY, participants followed a commercially available protocol called TISANOREICA. KEMEPHY is combination of four herbal extracts that is ill-defined (at least in this article), with the idea of ameliorating weakness and tiredness during ketosis. The investigators called this a ketogenic Mediterranean diet, although I saw little “Mediterranean” about it. They ate “beef & veal, poultry, fish, raw and cooked green vegetables without restriction, cold cuts (dried beef, carpaccio and cured ham), eggs and seasoned cheese (e.g., parmesan).” Coffee and tea were allowed. Items to avoid included alcohol, bread, pasta, rice, milk, and yogurt. “In addition to facilitate the adhesion to the nutritional regime, each subject was given a variety of specialty meals constituted principally of protein and fibers. “These meals (TISANOREICA) that are composed of a protein blend obtained from soya, peas, oats (equivalent to 18 g/portion) and virtually zero carbohydrate (but that mimic their taste) were included in the standard ration.” They took a multivitamin every morning. Prescribed carbohydrate was about 30 grams a day, with macronutrient distribution of 12% carb, 36 or 41% protein, and 51 0r 52% fat. It appears that prescribed daily calories averaged 976 (but how can that be prescribed when some food items are “unrestricted”?).

I found little explanation of period #2 mentioned above, the low-carb non-ketogenic diet. Prescribed macronutrients were 25 or 33% carb, 27 0r 31% protein, 41 or 44% fat, and about 91 g carbohydrate. Prescribed daily calories appear to have averaged 1111.

After the first and second active weight loss ketogenic phases, participants ate what sounds like a traditional Mediterranean diet. Average prescribed macronutrient distribution was 57% carbohydrate, 15 % protein, and 27% fat. Wine was allowed. It looks like 1800 calories a day were recommended.

Food consumption was measured via analysis of 3-day diaries, but you have to guess how often that was done because the authors don’t say. The results of the diary analyses are not reported.

What Did They Find?

Most of the weight loss occurred during the two ketogenic phases. Average weight loss in the first ketogenic period was 7.4 kg (16 lb), and another 5.2 kg (11 lb) in the second ketogenic period. Overall average weight loss for the entire year was 16.1 kg (35 lb).

Average systolic blood pressure over the year dropped a statistically significant 8 units over the year, from 125 to 116 mmHg.

Over the 12 months, they found stable and statistically significant drops in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”), triglycerides, and blood sugar levels. No change in HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”).

Liver and kidney function tests didn’t change.

The authors didn’t give explanations for the drop-outs.

Although the group on average didn’t regain lost weight, eight participants regained most of it. The investigators write that “…the post dietary analysis showed that they were not compliant with nutritional guidelines given for the Mediterranean diet period. These subjects returned tho their previous nutrition habits (“junk” food, high glycaemic index, etc.) with a mean “real” daily intake of 2470 Kcal rather than the prescribed 1800 Kcal.”

Comments

A key take-home point for me is that the traditional Mediterranean diet prevented the weight regain that we see with many, if not most, successful diets.

However, most formulas for calculating steady state caloric requirements would suggest these guys would burn more than the 1800 daily calories recommended to them during the “normal calorie” months. How hard did the dieters work to keep calories around 1800? We can only speculate.

Although the researchers describe the long periods of traditional Mediterranean diet as “normal caloric,” they don’t say how that calorie level was determined  and achieved in the real world. Trust me, you can get fat eating the Mediterranean diet if you eat too much.

I’ll be the first to admit a variety of weight loss diets work, at least short-term. The problem is that people go back to their old ways of eating regain much of the lost weight, typically starting six months after starting the program. It was smart for the investigators to place that second ketogenic phase just before the typical regain would have started!

There are so few women in this study that it would be impossible to generalize results to women. Why so few? Furthermore, weight loss and other results weren’t broken down for each sex.

I suspect the results of this study will be used for marketing KEMEPHY and TISANOREICA. For all I know, that’s why the study was done. We’re trusting the investigators to have done a fair job choosing which patient charts to analyze retrospectively. They could have cherry-picked only the good ones. Some of the funding was from universities, some was from Gianluca Mech SpA (what’s that?).

How much of the success of this protocol is due to the herbal extracts and TISANOREICA, I have no idea.

The authors made no mention of the fact the average fasting glucose at baseline was 103 mg/dl (5.7 mmol/l). That’s elevated into the prediabetic range. So probably half of these folks had prediabetes. After the one-year program, average fasting glucose was normal at 95 mg/dl (5.3 mmol/l).

The improved lipids, blood sugars, and lower blood pressure may have simply reflected successful weight loss and therefore could have been achieved  by a variety of diets.

The authors attribute their success to the weight-losing metabolic effects of the ketogenic diet (particularly the relatively high protein content), combined with the traditional Mediterranean diet preventing weight regain.

The authors write:

The Mediterranean diet is associated with a longer life span, lower rates of coronary heart disease, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. But it is difficult to isolate the “healthy” constituents of the Mediterranean diet, since it is not a single entity and varies between regions and countries. All things considered there is no “one size fits all” dietary recommendation and for this reason we have tried to merge the benefits of these two approaches: the long term “all-life” Mediterranean diet coupled with brief periods of a metabolism enhancing ketogenic diet.

I’ve attempted a similar merger with my Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet. Click here for an outline. Another stab at it was the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet. And here’s my version of a Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Paoli, Antonio, et al. Long Term Successful Weight Loss with a Combination Biphasic Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet and Mediterranean Diet Maintenance Protocol. Nutrients, 5 (2013): 5205-5217. doi: 10.3390/nu5125205

Low-Carb Diets Poised for Resurgence?

I’ve been predicting major renewed interest in l0w-carb weight loss diets for the  last three or four years. Perhaps it’s starting. Evidence? Two recent online articles noting increased sales at Atkins Nutritionals. Here’s one at NPR and one at TakePart. The search terms “low-carb diet” didn’t reveal any blip at Google Trends, however.

My Advanced Mediterranean Diet (2nd edition) offers a low-carb option that’s worked well for many, along with a traditional portion-control program.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Mediterranean Diet Among The Best For Type 2 Diabetes

…announces an article at Reuters.  An excerpt:

Ajala and her colleagues reviewed the results of 20 studies comparing the effect of seven popular diets on adults with type 2 diabetes. Mediterranean diets, low-carb diets, high-protein diets and low glycemic index diets – which rank foods by how quickly their carbs turn into glucose – all lowered participants’ blood sugar.

After following the diet for at least six months, the people on a Mediterranean eating plan also lost an average of 4 pounds. No other diet had a significant impact on weight, according to the findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“We were quite surprised by the Mediterranean diet in particular,” Ajala said. “I would have thought that low-carb would have been the best for losing weight, but Mediterranean seems to be better.”

Beautiful woman smiling as she is wine tasting on a summer day.Here’s the traditional healthy Mediterranean diet.

The researchers also found that HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol) and triglycerides improved on the Mediterranean diet, low-carb diets, and low glycemic index diets.  Those moves tend to protect against heart disease.

Steve Parker, M.D.