Low-Carb Diet vs Low-Fat Diet: How to Choose Between Both?

Updated on October 17th, 2020
Low Carb vs Low Fat Diets

When striving to lose weight, it is easy to get lured by multiple diets that promise rapid weight loss. Presently, people are excited about low-carb and low-fat diets.

Both promise quick weight loss, and an array of individuals have succeeded in losing kilos by following these diet trends. But the question is which one is good, and what should you choose when trying to shed some kilos?

Low Carb vs Low Fat Diets

Although they’re both meant to help you shed weight, low carb and low-fat diets are structured differently.

Low carb diet

Low carb diets restrict your intake of carbs to varying degrees. They include [1] :

1. Deficient carb diets: Less than ten percent of total daily calories, or 20–50 grams per day on a 2,000-calorie diet

2. Low carb diets: Less than twenty-six percent of total daily calories, or fewer than 130 grams daily on a 2,000-calorie diet

3. Moderate carb diets: Twenty-six to forty-four percent of total daily calories

Note that deficient carb diets are often ketogenic, inferring that they remarkably restrict carb intake to instigate ketosis, a metabolic state in which our body utilizes fat for energy rather than carbs.

Usually, low carb diets restrict foods like baked goods, sugar-sweetened beverages,  sweets, and candies. Some versions may also restrict healthy carb sources, such as starchy vegetables, grains,  pasta, high carb fruits, and legumes.

Simultaneously, you’re meant to up your fat and protein intake from wholesome sources like meat, fish,  eggs, high-fat dairy, nuts, non-starchy vegetables, and unprocessed oils.

[Also Read: High Carb Foods to Avoid Now ]

Low-fat diet

Low-fat diets involve restricting fat intake to less than 30% of total daily calories [2].

High-fat foods like cooking oils, butter, avocados, nuts, seeds, and full-fat dairy are typically limited or banned.

Instead, you’re meant to eat naturally low-fat foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, egg whites, legumes, and skinless poultry—fat-reduced foods like low-fat yogurt and skim milk. It’s essential to note that some fat-reduced products like yogurt may pack artificial sweeteners or added sugar.

[Also Read: Zero Carb Diet for a Healthy Life]

Which is better for your health?

Various studies have compared the effects of low carb and low-fat diets on weight loss and various other health aspects.

1. Weight loss

Most studies suggest that low carb diets may be more beneficial for short-term weight loss than low-fat diets.

According to an older, six-month study in 132 individuals with obesity, those who followed a low carb diet lost over three times as much weight as those who followed a calorie-restricted low-fat diet [3].

In a small, twelve-week research, adolescents with overweight who adhered to a low carb diet lost an average of 9.9 kilograms (kg) (21.8 pounds), compared with just 4.1 kg  (9 pounds) for those on a low-fat diet.

Similarly, a two-year study gave 322 people with obesity either low carb, low fat, or Mediterranean diet. The low carb group shed 4.7 kg (10.4 pounds), the low-fat group 2.9 kilograms (6.4 pounds), and the Mediterranean group 4.4 kilograms (9.7 pounds) [4].

However, other studies indicate that low carb and low-fat diets may be similarly effective in the long term.

According to a review of seventeen studies, participants lost remarkably more weight on a low carb diet than on a low-fat diet. Though the low carb diet was still more significant after 12 months, the difference between the two slowly decreased over time.

[Also Read: Good Fats for Weight Loss]

2. Fat loss

Most research indicates that low carb diets are more effective for fat loss.

A little, sixteen-week research found that those who followed a low-calorie, low carb diet experienced more significant reductions in total fat mass and belly fat than those who adhered to a low-fat diet.

3. Hunger and appetite

Studies generally show that high protein, low carb diets decrease hunger and improve mood compared with low-fat diets, possibly making them easier to maintain long term.

See Also
Tips For Losing Weight After Pregnancy

4. Blood sugar levels

Low blood sugar levels can spike hunger feelings and lead to severe side effects like fatigue, shakiness, and unintentional weight changes.

Restricting carb intake is one way to help control blood sugar levels.

One research in 56 individuals with type 2 diabetes determined that a low carb diet was more beneficial at increasing weight loss, controlling blood sugar, and reducing insulin needs than a low-fat diet.

Other effects on health

Low fat and low carb diets can affect other aspects of health in multiple ways. These include:

1. Cholesterol

A review of 8 studies found low carb diets to be more effective at improving HDL (good) cholesterol levels and decreasing triglyceride levels than low-fat diets. Neither diet significantly affected bad (LDL) cholesterol.

2. Blood pressure 

Although studies show that both diets can minimize short-term blood pressure levels, studies on their long-term impact on blood pressure have been mixed.

3. Triglycerides

Multiple studies note that a low carb diet can lead to more significant reductions in triglycerides than a low-fat diet.

Insulin. Studies on low carb and low-fat diets’ effects on insulin levels have turned up mixed results. More studies are required to determine whether one is better than the other.

Bottom Line

Low-fat diets are regarded as a popular weight-loss strategy. However, low carb diets are linked to more significant short-term weight loss, increased fat loss, better blood sugar control, and reduced hunger.

While more studies are needed on each diet’s long-term effects, research shows that low carb diets can be as useful for weight loss as low-fat diets and may offer several additional health benefits.

Whether you choose a low carb or low-fat diet, remember that adhering to an eating pattern over the long term is one of the most critical factors for success with both overall health and weight loss.

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