Food diaries indicated that total calorie intake went down in both groups. Ultimately, both groups lost a similar amount of weight and reduced their waist size in similar measure, the investigators found. And by the end of the two-year period, both groups had similar blood fat profiles.
Krebs and his colleagues concluded that their "real-world" experiment demonstrated that both approaches afford similar benefits, with the principal driving factor behind sustained weight loss being calorie reduction rather than either high-carb or high-protein consumption.
Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said the observations were "not at all surprising."
"This is pretty consistent with other research out there that has conducted other long-term comparisons in the general population," she said. "In the first six months you might see a little better benefit from a high-protein approach. But long-term, the initial benefits from a high-protein diet seem to diminish over time, and the two diets end up being essentially equivalent," Sandon explained.
"The bottom-line is that the issue for weight loss is calories," Sandon added. "Not where those calories come from. You need to create an energy deficit to lead to weight loss, and that happens by decreasing those calories. That's just been shown again and again."
Experts note that research presented at medical meetings is considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny required for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
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