Eating fat helps to lose fat, study found –

A new study found that a non-calorie restricted low carbohydrate, high-fat diet improved diabetes control and reduced fat in the liver, contrary to what doctors previously believed.

The first and “most extensive research study” on the low-carb, high-fat diet in patients with type two diabetes and fatty liver disease was held in Denmark for six months. It found that this diet Improved nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), affecting over 25% of people worldwide and 55% of people with type 2 diabetes, as well as blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes.

“I want to tell you that if you have fat in the liver, you will benefit from eating fats,” said Camilla Dalby Hansen, PhD fellow, Clinical Research Assistant, MD at Odense University Hospital in Denmark, presenting the outcomes of the study at the International Liver Congress in London.

While participants ate as many calories “as they were used to,” they lost nearly 6% of their body weight, diabetes control was improved, and fat in the liver was reduced.

The low-carb, high-fat diet was compared to “a classic diabetes diet low in fats,” which is low in fats and high in whole grain products, such as oats, potatoes and vegetables.

On the contrary, the low-carb, high-fat diet “is very high in fats”. “It’s primarily healthy fats, such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, but also cheese, cream, high-fat dairy products,” Hansen said.

A quarter of a liter of olive oil per day

Per day, participants consumed fat equal to a quarter of a liter of olive oil. “They really had to change their mindset a lot because it was difficult for them to start eating all these fats. We have been told for decades that it’s not good,” Hansen said.

The diet included vegetables, but food high in carbs, such as bread, potatoes, rice or pasta, was excluded.

One hundred sixty-five participants ate one of these diets for six months, during which different investigations were performed, including liver biopsies. “We told participants, please do not lose weight, eat until you’re full,” Hansen said.

“We find this very interesting because some of the problems with diets today are that it’s very difficult to sustain in the long term.” Hansen highlighted.

While healthy fat was recommended, results of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol”, did not change depending on if participants consumed healthy or saturated fats that come from, for example, bacon.

“That was our hypothesis that if they were eating a lot of saturated fats, maybe this will influence LDL results, but we did not see that,” Hansen said.

She added that “these results might give patients more options in the future, that they can pick for themselves what fits into their lifestyle.”

“It’s important to emphasise that it’s not just going out and eating all fat in the world. You really also have to focus on getting some of the good fats, and, very importantly, not to both eat a lot of fat and a lot of carbohydrates,” Hansen said.

It was added that discussing with a doctor and getting follow-up checks when following the diet is essential.

Commenting on the study, Zobair M. Younossi, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus in the US, highlighted the need for long-term data to understand the real outcome of this diet. He also stressed the influence of sugar on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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