Why the two 'best' diets DON'T work

It's the battle of the diets, and we have a winner.

A new study put two of the most popular diets up in a head-to-head match over one-year clinical trial.

Some of the dieters went low-fat. The rest went low-carb. And the results are surprising a lot of people.

There were almost no differences between the two.

At the end of the year, the low-carb dieters lost about half a pound more than the folks on the low-fat diet. Both sets of dieters also improved by nearly every other key measure: They cut body mass index, body fat percentage, and waistlines.

They also had similar improvements in blood pressure, insulin, glucose, and blood fats (although the low-carb dieters had bigger improvements in both HDL cholesterol and triglycerides).

That's enough for the media to declare that BOTH diets are winners.

But take one look at the actual results, and I think we can reach another conclusion altogether.

Both diets LOST!

Everyone may have improved, but they didn't improve by much.

In fact, at the end of the study -- one full year later -- the folks who went low-fat lost a little less than 12 pounds, while the folks who went low-carb lost a hair over 12 pounds.

I'm not going to knock it -- losing weight is always great.

But a pound a month of weight loss over the course of a year is not exactly what I'd call a success story.

I'm not surprised by those results. There's a reason neither of these diets succeed over the long haul for most people.

They're impossible to stick to.

Sure, they both have their plusses. The low-fat diet restricts saturated fats, which really should be limited. The low-carb diet restricts sugars, grains, and other carbs, which are also bad for you.

But they also have some pretty big minuses.

When you go low-fat, you often end up feeling hungry. When you go low-carb, there are too many off-limits foods.

Eventually you get frustrated and start to cheat. And eventually, the weight loss stops and some of the weight might even return.

That's why I'm such a fan of the Mediterranean lifestyle. It allows for a sensible amount of fats -- even a little saturated fat -- so you feel full and satisfied as you lose weight.

It also doesn't restrict too many foods aside from the truly unhealthy processed junk (although for best results, I would also urge you to severely limit grains, even whole grains).

That makes it the kind of diet you can stick to for a lifetime. And in addition to helping you to lose weight, it will also cut your risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and more.

You can do it on your own. I know you can. But if you need some one-on-one help, make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not here in the San Diego area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!