I just finished reading an article recently published by a group of CHINESE doctors in the medical magazine “Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine”, edition of March 2013.
The publisher is an international, peer-reviewed group of doctors and searches that seek to understand the sources and to encourage rigorous research in this new yet ANCIENT world of "complementary and alternative medicine".
Before considering the article, I would like to say a short word about this new concept of “Evidence-base Medicine”, concept that has become a trendy way of talking about medical care nowadays. It is defined as the “conscientious, explicit and judicious us of CURRENT BEST EVIDENCE in making decisions about the care of individual patients”. It is based on mathematical estimates of the risk of benefit and harm, derived from high quality research.
All this being said, this approach works hard to stay away from any lobbying of the pharmaceutical, agro-food business and government people. So anytime you will read something of medical nature, if it states it is “Evidence-based Medicine”, let’s say you have the best chance to deal with serious stuff.
BUT NEVER FORGET STATISTICS NEVER REPLACE GOOD JUDGMENT!!!
So let’s go back to the article.
This group of Chinese doctors (Dr. Gu Y, Hu H, Li Y, Ma X,
Lu J, Yu W, Xiao Y, Bao Y, Jia W, …cannot be more Chinese with these names…), all from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, observed what happens to patients when they were submitted to a VLCD for 8 weeks. The participants were all obese patients.
Of course, a VLCD, even if it means having less then 20 g of carbohydrates per day, is different from a Zero Carb diet, but still it is certainly the nearest you can get to our way of eating and this makes the study interesting for us.
The duration of the study is certainly adequate because 8 weeks is a decent period of time for your metabolism to get adjusted to any type of diet (certainly enough to get into ketosis…). So the observations made are not part of the “withdrawal phase” of a modified carb diet, but more the reality of how the metabolism gets permanently adjusted to a VLCD. Sadly, many published studies in nutrition have only 2 weeks of duration (sometimes even 1 week…) and most of the time, the conclusions becomes non usable, even if, sadly, they sometimes make the first page of the news…
The results of this Chinese study are astonishing.
The average weight loss was 19 pounds with significant improvement of the metabolic profile. The triglycerides level went down and the total fat content of the liver drastically diminished, which means these obese patients were probably on the road for a non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis, having had an high carb diet before entering the study.
There was also a significant reduction in subcutaneous and visceral fat and the whole body insulin sensitivity went up, which means anyone who was diabetic or pre-diabetic, had a serious improvement or even a cure of their condition.
But the most interesting discovery of this study is ALL the participants demonstrated a MUSCLE MASS INCREASE even if, aside the prescribed VLCD, no exercise program was undertaken by the participants.
The men had a 6% increase of their muscle mass while women had a 3 % increase. These numbers are astonishing and show how a seriously restricted carbohydrate diet is beneficial to the human body, aside helping to reduce weight. It also sustains the concept the more you go into ketosis, the more the body protects the muscle mass and even increases it.
The Chinese doctors concluded a VLCD is an effective intervention in obese humans and it is associated with enhanced hepatic and whole-body lipolysis and oxidation, which means the body begins burning fat instead of glucose as primary source of energy.
Finally, what pleases me the most is that, for the first time, a VLCD is, aside being associated with “Evidence-based Medicine”, also part of “alternative medicine choices”, all of which is described as being related to an ANCIENT AND TRADITIONAL way of treating patients…
I think the label “Made in China” is beginning to look pretty good!!!