A lot of people look to low-fat diets as a way to boost fat burning and lose weight. However, recent research shows that low carb diets are just as effective. Moreover, low carb meal plans have been shown to reduce hunger, fat loss and balance blood sugar levels. These facts have left many people wondering which type of diet is best for losing weight. So let’s compare low fat and low carb diets, and evaluate their impact on weight. Even though both are meant to help you lose weight, low fat and low carb diets are structured very differently.
Basics of Low Carb Diets
Low carb diets look to limit your carb intake to a certain degree. There are very low carb diets where you can select healthy low carb meal plans to allocate only 5% of your total daily calories intake to carbs. To illustrate, this is below 15-20 grams of carbs a day on a 1.600 calorie diet. A low carb diet is any diet where you intake less than 25% of your total daily calories in carbs, or fewer than 100 grams a day of a 1.600 calorie diet. And lastly, there’s the moderate carb diet, where you intake between 25-45% carbs of your total daily calories.
The very low carb diets are ketogenic, which means they induce ketosis, a metabolic state which forces your body to use fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. These diets restrict foods like baked goods, sweets, candies, sugar-sweetened beverages, etc. Some diets can also limit healthy carb sources, such as pasta, legumes, high carb fruit, starchy vegetables and grains.
At the same time, you’re meant to increase your protein and fat intake from wholesome sources, such as meats, nuts, fish, eggs, high-fat dairy, non-starchy vegetables and unprocessed oils.
Basics of Low Fat Diet
Low-fat diets aim to restrict your fat intake to less than 30% of your total daily calorie intake. High-fat foods such as butter, cooking oils, nuts, avocado, seeds and full-fat dairy are usually limited or forbidden. Instead, you’ll only eat naturally low-fat foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, egg whites, skinless poultry, legumes, etc. Fat-reduced foods, such as skim milk, lean cuts of pork and beef, low-fat yogurt are also sometimes allowed. However, it’s important to keep in mind that many fat-reduced foods like yogurt can have artificial sweeteners or added sugar.
So Which One is Better For Your Health?
Low blood sugar levels are responsible for increasing your feelings of hunger and can be the result of side effects such as fatigue, shakiness and unwanted changes in weight. Limiting your carb intake is a good way to help control blood sugar levels. Low carb diets are very effective at controlling blood sugar, reducing insulin needs and increasing weight loss. Additionally, low carb diets reduce the levels of circulating insulin, which can lead to increased insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity may improve your body’s ability to move sugar from your bloodstream into your body cells, which can lead to enhanced blood sugar control.
Furthermore, most studies show that low carb diets are better for losing fat. People on a low carb diet experience greater reductions in fat mass, as well as belly fat than those on a low-fat diet. Additionally, very low carb diets reduce fat mass in obese individuals. What’s more, low carb, high protein diets improve mood and decrease feelings of hunger, making them more sustainable over the long term. This is a result of the filling effects of both fat and protein. Both these macros slow down the emptying of your stomach and make you feel full for longer.
Both low carb and low-fat diets can also have impacts on other aspects of your health in various ways, such as:
- Blood Pressure – Both diets can reduce your blood pressure levels short-term. However, research on the long-term effects of both diets doesn’t lead to any clear conclusion.
- Cholesterol – Low carb diets are very effective at improving the levels of HDL cholesterol while decreasing triglyceride levels than low-fat diets. But neither diet affected LDL cholesterol significantly.
- Insulin – Studies on both low fat and low carb diets have shown conflicting results, but low carb diets are believed to have a positive impact as they increase insulin sensitivity.
- Triglycerides – Following a low carb diet is shown to lead to a greater reduction in triglycerides than low-fat diets.
Low-fat diets used to be the most popular weight-loss method until recently. However, low carb diets have become all the rage lately, simply because they provide greater short-term weight loss, as well as reduced hunger, increased fat loss and improved blood sugar control. But regardless of whether you go for a low fat or low carb diet, remember that sticking to an eating pattern long-term is one of the most important factors to success not only to weight loss but overall health as well.