WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The best way to lose body fat may be to cut down on fat in your diet.

A new study from the National Institutes of Health found that obese adults who restricted their dietary fat intake lost body fat at a rate 68 percent higher than when cutting back on the same number of carbohydrate calories.

“Compared to the reduced-fat diet, the reduced-carb diet was particularly effective at lowering insulin secretion and increasing fat burning, resulting in significant body fat loss,” explained lead author Kevin Hall. “But interestingly, study participants lost even more body fat during the fat-restricted diet, as it resulted in a greater imbalance between the fat eaten and fat burned.”

The researchers studied 19 non-diabetic obese men and women at the Metabolic Clinical Research Unit at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

The participants stayed in the unit around the clock for two extended visits, eating the same food and doing the same activities.

For the first five days they ate a baseline balanced diet. Then they were fed diets containing 30 percent fewer calories for six days. The diets either cut only total carbs or total fats while maintaining the same amount of protein.

They switched diets for the second visit.

Carb restriction lowered production of the fat-regulating hormone insulin and increased fat burning; fat restriction had no observed changes in insulin production or fat burning.

“These findings counter the theory that body fat loss necessarily requires decreasing insulin,” noted Hall. “Thereby increasing the release of stored fat from fat tissue and increasing the amount of fat burned by the body.”

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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