Low-carb diet researchers investigating breast cancer prevention have discovered a novel approach to weight loss. Their findings came from a search for easier ways to promote both weight loss and reduced insulin resistance. In their study, brief intervals of low-carb dieting were more effective than a standard Mediterranean diet in achieving those results.
Lose weight, prevent breast cancer
Insulin is a double-edged hormone in the human body. It is essential for a healthy metabolism. But in excessive amounts, it is a cancer-promoting hormone. For at risk, women, weight loss and reduced insulin levels are necessary for breast cancer prevention. However those results are difficult to achieve and maintain with conventional dieting.
Many studies have demonstrated that low-carb diets work better than regular low-calorie diets for losing weight and reducing insulin resistance—a dangerous diabetic condition. But low carb diets are notoriously difficult to follow for most people. Because research has shown that obesity and the changes it causes in the body increase breast cancer risk, doctors at Genesis Prevention Center at University Hospital in South Manchester, England wanted to create an easier eating regimen to abide by.
Details of the low carb diet study
“We came up with the idea of an intermittent low-carb diet because it enables people to still have foods that are very satiating,” said the study’s lead author, research dietician Michelle Harvie. “Also, there’s a lot of evidence from other studies showing that restricting carbohydrates has the same effect as restricting energy.”
In this study, researchers followed 115 women who had a family history of breast cancer for four months as they were randomly assigned to one of three diet programs.
They randomly assigned patients to three different diets. One third of the women were put on a Mediterranean-type diet that restricted calories to about 1,500 per day, seven days a week. A second group was told to eat normally most of the time, but to reduce carbs and cut calories to about 650 a day twice a week. The third group followed a standard, low-carb diet two days a week.
After four weeks, both intermittent, low-carb diets got better results in reducing weight, body fat and insulin resistance than the standard, daily Mediterranean diet. Women in the low-carb intermittent groups lost an average of about 9 pounds, compared to about five pounds in the Mediterranean diet group. Insulin resistance dropped an average 22 percent in the low-calorie/low-carb group, 14 percent in the standard low-carb group and 4 percent in the Mediterranean diet group.
Yes, you can try this at home
The good news from the breast cancer prevention diet study is that women can lower their risk, reduce insulin resistance and lose weight by cutting back dramatically on carbs and calories just two days a week—but that isn’t a license for unhealthy eating the rest of the week.
On low carb days, avoid bread, pasta and potatoes while focusing on healthy fats and protein. One piece of fruit is allowed, plus foods such as nuts and green, leafy vegetables, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant and cauliflower.