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Very Low Carb Diet With Eggs Results In Significant Belly Fat Loss Says Study

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Eggs are recommended for VLCD weight loss.

According to a recent study, eggs have gotten a bad rap when it comes to dieting. Here’s how some older adults decreased their belly fat while on a very low carb diet with a minimum of three eggs per day in just eight weeks.

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According to a news release from the University of Alabama, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center recently published their findings in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism that after 8 weeks on a very low carb diet (VLCD) supplemented with eggs, study participants lost a significant amount of abdominal fat in comparison to control participants not on a VLCD with eggs.

The study states that the accumulation of abdominal fat in aging adults with obesity is especially problematical due to it places them at a high risk of suffering from cardio-metabolic disease, which includes Type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, arrhythmia, valve problems, heart attack and stroke.

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One of the problems with dieting amongst older adults is that of the possibility of losing additional muscle mass while already at a deficit of muscle from the natural aging process.

To determine if a VLCD could help older adults lose their visceral and intermuscular fat, but retain their remaining lean muscle mass, researchers from the University designed a study that pitted a VLCD against a standard CCHO-based/low-fat diet (LFD) in older adults with obesity.

A CCHO (controlled carbohydrate diet) diet is one that helps people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels constant through every meal and snack, while at the same time lose weight.

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Another goal of using VLCD in the study was to also see how a VLCD would affect insulin sensitivity in older adults with obesity and compare that with a control group on a controlled carbohydrate diet. Since increased abdomen fat leads to increased insulin insensitivity, loss of abdominal fat could improve insulin blood levels following meals.

In the study, thirty-four men and women aged 60–75 years with obesity were randomly grouped to either a very low carb diet supplemented with a minimum of 3 eggs per day or a modified carbohydrate/low-fat diet. The study lasted eight weeks with biometrics of body composition, fat distribution, insulin sensitivity, and fasting blood draw lipids measured in both groups for baseline and end of study levels.

What the researchers found was that the VLCD group lost significantly more fat than the control group without loss of lean muscle mass. Plus, the VLCD group also demonstrated remarkable improvement in their insulin sensitivity.

According to the University of Alabama news article:

“After the eight-week intervention, despite the recommendation to consume a weight-maintaining diet, the group consuming the very low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight and total fat mass than the control diet group,” states the study’s lead author, Amy Goss, Ph.D., RDN, an assistant professor with UAB’s Department of Nutrition Sciences.

“We also found significant improvements in the overall lipid profile that would reflect decreased risk of cardiovascular disease,” Goss said. “Further, insulin sensitivity improved in response to the very low-carbohydrate diet reflecting reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. Overall, we observed improvements in body composition, fat distribution and metabolic health in response to an eight-week, very low-carbohydrate diet.”

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“While eggs were a part of this study, we can’t conclude that our findings are a result of daily egg consumption; but I think what we can conclude is that whole eggs can be incorporated into the diet in a healthful way without adversely impacting blood cholesterol in older adults,” she said.

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“Historically, eggs have received a bad rap beginning with the nutrition guidelines on egg consumption set forth by the American Heart Association in 1968,” Goss said. “It was recommended that no more than three whole eggs be consumed each week.”

However, this view appears to be changing as Goss points out that the recommendations have changed this past month with the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee recommending an increase in egg consumption that includes pregnant and nursing mothers as well as for a first food for infants and toddlers.

“This historical first for the Dietary Guidelines Committee recognized eggs as an important, nutrient-rich food source, as eggs are a rich source of protein, choline, B12, selenium, vitamin D and a long list of other nutrients vital to growth and development as well as maintenance of muscle mass,” Goss said.

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“This study extends previous research to show that it can be a safe, therapeutic option for older adults in their 70s experiencing obesity,” she said. “This is the first study to demonstrate depletion of ‘metabolically harmful’ fat depots while preserving skeletal muscle during weight loss in response to a VLCD in older adults.”

For more about how a very low carb diet can result in significant weight loss, here is an informative article about a Swedish Weight Loss Program That Works!

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Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of image by RitaE from Pixabay.

References:

Study focuses on low-carb, high-fat diet effect on older populations” UAB News by Adam Pope, 20 August 2020.

"Effects of weight loss during a very low carbohydrate diet on specific adipose tissue depots and insulin sensitivity in older adults with obesity: a randomized clinical trial" Nutrition and Metabolism 17, 64 (2020) Goss, A.M., Gower, B., Soleymani, T. et al. .

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