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Low-carb diets burn more fat.

People on low-carbohydrate diets are more dependent on the oxidation of fat in the liver for energy than those on low-calorie diets, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, have found. This could have implications for treating obesity and related diseases such as diabetes, insulin resistance; and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. "Instead of looking at drugs to combat obesity and the diseases that stem from it, maybe optimizing diet not only can manage and treat these diseases, but also prevent them," contends Jeffrey Browning, assistant professor of internal medicine.

Although the study was not designed to determine which diet was more effective for losing weight, the average weight loss for the low-calorie dieters was about five pounds after two weeks, while the low-carbohydrate dieters lost about 9.5 pounds on average.

Glucose (a form of sugar) and fat are sources of energy that are metebolized in the liver and used as energy in the body. Glucose can be formed from lactate, amino acids, or glycerol. In order to determine how diet affects glucose production and utilization in the liver, obese or overweight adults were assigned randomly to either a low-carbohydrate or low-calorie diet and lean subjects were monitored on a regular diet. After two weeks, researchers used imaging techniques to analyze the different methods (or biochemical pathways) the subjects used to make glucose.

"We saw a dramatic change in where and how the liver was producing glucose, depending on diet," points out Browning. Participants on the low-carbohydrate diet produced more glucose from lactate or amino acids than those on a low-calorie diet. "Understanding how the liver makes glucose under different dietary conditions may help us better regulate metabolic disorders with diet."

Individual glucose metabolism varied as wall, with low-calorie dieters obtaining about 40% of their glucose from glycogen, which comes from ingested carbohydrates and is stored in the liver until the body needs it. The low-carbohydrate dieters, however, got only 20% of their glucose from glycogen. Instead of dipping into their reserve of glycogen, these subjects burned liver fat for energy. The accumulation of excess fat in the liver (triglycerides) can result in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which may affect as many as one-third of U.S. adults.

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Title Annotation:YOUR LIFE
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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