BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Low-carb dieters may have put potatoes aside, but vegetables and fruits are still on their plates, according to recent research.
In a study completed this summer, The Hartman Group found that among "carb-conscious" respondents, 51% of core low-carb dieters eat at least six servings a week of cooked or raw vegetables and 19% have at least six servings of baseball-sized fruit or half a cup of berries. That's more than the total of respondents in the study ate. Just 38% of total respondents said they eat that many servings of vegetables and 22% of all respondents have that many servings of fruit.
The study, a follow-up to earlier low-carb diet research the group conducted last winter, underscored the fact that "following" a low-carb diet means different things to different people, researchers said. The earlier research showed the majority fell into the moderate category and the next largest into the periphery, with only a small percentage being hard-core, low-carb dieters who follow a strict diet.
For most respondents, low-carb dieting does not mean following a strict diet, but simply "watching" carb intake in varying degrees, and their regimen includes fruits, vegetables and "common sense," said Blanca Hernandez, The Hartman Group's marketing sales manager.
While low-carb dieters may reduce or eliminate whole categories of food like potatoes, pasta and rice, they're not staying away from the produce aisle.
As one respondent said, "Fruits and vegetables have carbs -- especially fruits. But I don't worry about them because I figure you've got to eat some carbs, and if I just cut way back where I can -- like I don't eat French fries, mashed potatoes and breads. Usually dinner will consist of meat, a fruit and a vegetable, maybe a salad. I eat things in moderation."
In fact, many consumers believe fruit and legumes, in particular, are not only healthy but also conducive to weight management, Hernandez said.
In that vein, the researchers also found among low-carb dieters, expert opinion plays a much smaller role than word-of-mouth and "common sense."
Interestingly, the research found that, in practice, low-carb diets are about 50% less effective at helping people reach their weight-loss goals than all diets in general. For example, only 14% of low-carb dieters surveyed indicated they quit the diet because they had reached their weight-loss goal, compared to 29% of all weight-loss dieters who quit dieting because they hit their goal.