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Cut the carb, stay healthy

health and fitness Updated: Apr 23, 2011 00:14 IST
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According to a new study you may be doing more harm to your liver than you think if you consume a diet that is rich in carbohydrates. Reducing carbohydrate intake is more effective than cutting calories, especially for people who want to remove unhealthy fat content from their liver, says a recent US research.

“What this study tells us is that if your doctor says that you need to reduce the amount of fat in your liver, you can achieve the desired results more swiftly than you thought. You can do something of this sort within a month,” said Jeffrey Browning, who led the study at the University of Texas-Southwestern.

The results could have a bearing on treating numerous diseases, including diabetes, insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, or NAFLD, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports.


“Weight loss, regardless of the mechanism, is currently the most effective way to reduce liver fat,” added Browning.

Mind your liver

The disease, which affects as many as one-third of adults in America alone, can lead to liver inflammation, cirrhosis and liver cancer, according to a Southwestern statement. The problem however is not region centric. Given sedentary lifestyles and eating habits it can pose as a problem for people across the countries.

Low-carb versus low cal

For the study, researchers assigned a group of participants with NAFLD to eat either a low-carbohydrate or a low-calorie diet for a period of 14 days.

The participants assigned to the low-carb diet limited their carb intake to less than 20 grams a day, the equivalent of a small banana or a half-cup of egg noodles, for the first seven days of the period assigned for the study.

For the final seven days, they switched to frozen meals prepared by Southwestern’s Clinical and Translational Research Centre (CTRC) kitchen that matched their individual food preferences, carbohydrate intake and energy needs.

Those assigned to the low-calorie diet continued their regular diet and kept a food diary for the four days preceding the study.

The CTRC kitchen then used these individual records to prepare all meals during the 14-day study. Researchers limited the total number of calories to roughly 1,200 a day for the female participants and 1,500 a day for the males.

After two weeks, researchers used advanced imaging techniques to analyse the amount of liver fat in each individual. They found that the participants on the low-carb diet lost more liver fat.

Both the low-calorie dieters and the low-carbohydrate dieters lost an average of 10 pounds.