Here's How Low-Carb Diets Affect Men and Women Differently

Pick your bonus: weight loss or heart health.

Given that keto diets are all the rage these days, most people trying to achieve that perfect summer bod are adhering to a low-carb diet.

But as any woman knows all too well, there's a bit of a gender dive when it comes to its effectivity, at least as it pertains to weight loss. And, indeed, a new study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism has found that men tend to shed more pounds than women when restricting their intake of carbs.

However, there is good news. The study also found that while men may have added benefits when it comes to the battle of the bulge, women tend to experience more improvements in artery flexibility, which thereby helps them reduce their risk of heart disease.

Researchers supplied 20 middle-aged people with low-carb diets provided by the MU Nutrition Center for Health for two weeks and gave them instructions for meals for an additional two weeks. All of them were pre-diabetic, which is too say their blood sugar levels were higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetic, a diagnoses that the CDC says applies to one out of every three Americans.

Over the course of the month-long study, men lost 6.3 percent of their body weight, while women only lost 4.4 percent. However, the women showed reduced blood flow speeds of one meter per second, while men showed no changes in blood flow speed at all.

"Previous research has shown that as women age, their blood vessels stiffen more so than men, putting them at an increased risk of heart disease," Elizabeth Parks, PhD, professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at University of Missouri-Columbia, said in a statement. "Contrary to what you may think, you actually don't want stiff blood vessels. Rather, you want flexible vessels that expand slowly as the blood flows through them. Our study found that low-carb diets helped reduce the stiffness of arteries in women, which can, in turn, reduce their risk of developing serious heart conditions."

This is no small discovery. There's a widespread myth that men are more susceptible to heart attacks or strokes than women, when, in fact, heart disease continues to be the number one killer among women in America, claiming the lives of approximately 500,000 women a year. According to the American Heart Association, more than one in three women has some type of cardiovascular issue, including nearly half of all African-American women and 34 percent of white women. And while heart disease has declined among men over the last 25 years, the progress with women has been much slower.

For more ways to shed those last few pounds, master the 100 Motivational Weight-Loss Tips for Summer.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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