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Low-Glycemic Diet Made Simple continued...

Other obese study subjects were put on a traditional, low-fat/low-calorie diet. Both groups were asked to exercise regularly and were given lifestyle counseling.

"Those in the low-glycemic-diet group were told to eat as much as they wanted and to snack when hungry," Ludwig says. "Yet after a year, they lost fully as much weight as those told to cut back on fat and to cut back on calories. But they did better in terms of heart disease risk reduction."

Weight, Heart Risk Down

After 12 months on the diets, the slow-carb group lost 7.8% of their body weight compared with 6.1% in the low-fat-diet group.

Levels of triglycerides -- blood fats linked to heart disease -- decreased much more in the slow-carb group. The levels were down 37% in the slow-carb group compared with 19% in the low-fat group.

Levels of a factor that increases blood clots - called plasminogen activator inhibitor - decreased by 39% in the slow-carb group but increased 33% among the low-fat dieters. Blood clots in the heartarteries are usually the cause of heart attacks.

Slow-Carb Diet, Not Low-Carb Diet

The Ludwig study is far from the first to find benefits for a low-glycemic-load diet, says Jennie Brand-Miller, PhD, professor of human nutrition at the University of Sydney, Australia, and co-author of The Low GI Diet Revolution and other books in The New Glucose Revolution series. Brand-Miller's editorial accompanies the Ludwig team's report.

"This study is telling us that losing weight on a low-GI diet produces better outcomes in terms of heart health than a conventional weight loss diet," Brand-Miller tells WebMD. "Even if the amount of weight lost is the same, you are better off on the low-GI diet. So it's a double bonus."

Brand-Miller says the slow-carb diet -- a name coined by Patricia and Harvey Haakonson, MD, authors of Slow Carb for Life -- is the opposite of the low-carb diet.

"The aim is not to get the lowest glycemic load possible. That's the fastest route to a low-carb-style diet," she says. "A low-GI diet and a low-carb diet are poles apart. We want you to eat lots of carbs, but selectively -- the low-GI versions."

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