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Ergo-Log

16.01.2017


Is it better to combine a low-carb diet or a traditional slimming diet with strength training?

When you combine a traditional weight-loss diet with strength training you lose just as much fat and retain just as much muscle mass as you would on a low-carb diet. That's the take-home message from the human study that Brazilian sports scientists Claudia Meirelles and Paulo Gomes published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.

Study
The researchers got 21 participants whose BMI was higher than 25 to lose weight over an 8-week period. All participants had at least 3 months' experience of strength training, and did weight training during the experiment.

12 of the participants lost weight by going on a low-carb diet. For the first four weeks of the experiment they were allowed 30 g carbohydrates daily, after which they were allowed to increase their carb intake each week by 10 g. The participants did not count calories.

The other group went on a traditional weight-loss diet and did count calories. These participants reduced their intake so that they were consuming 30 percent less energy than they were burning. The energy was derived for 15 percent from protein, 30 percent from fat and 55 percent from carbohydrates.

Results
The low-carb group gained a kilogram of lean body mass; the lean body mass of the traditional-diet group remained stable. The differences between the groups were not statistically significant however.


Is it better to combine a low-carb diet or a traditional slimming diet with strength training?

Is it better to combine a low-carb diet or a traditional slimming diet with strength training?

Is it better to combine a low-carb diet or a traditional slimming diet with strength training?



The fat percentage and waist circumference decreased by similar amounts in both groups.

The researchers multiplied the weight with which the participants trained their legs, biceps and triceps by the amount of reps they were able to do, and discovered that both groups made approximately the same amount of progress throughout the course of the experiment. In the figure below the participants who followed the traditional diet appear to do a little better than the low-carb group, but the differences between the groups are not statistically significant.


Is it better to combine a low-carb diet or a traditional slimming diet with strength training?



Conclusion
"Overweight and obese individuals submitted to resistance training while undergoing a short-term hypoenergetic dietary intervention may be capable of gaining muscle strength and maintain muscle thicknesses", the researchers summarised. "Simultaneously, the participants experienced significant reductions in body mass and body fat, regardless of their carbohydrate intake."

"In addition to the existing literature on the numerous health benefits of carbohydrate restriction, this research supports the conclusion that, in combination with resistance training, carbohydrate restriction is a plausible method to maintain muscle mass during energy restriction programs."



"These results may be important to alert health professionals that carbohydrate restriction may be an alternative intervention for treating these subjects, as long as there is no specific contraindication."

Source:
JSSM 2016;15:578-84.

More:
Low-carb diet doesn't mean loss of muscle mass or strength 23.01.2013
Study: low carb + strength training = big fat loss, no lean body mass loss 13.02.2011

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