Is Low Fat Or Low Carb Better For Weight Loss?

low carb or low fat for weight loss

Throughout the 80s and 90s and into the early 2000s low-fat diets were pretty much the only diet that anyone talked about. And then Atkins and low carb high fat, and keto started to become more mainstream and become more popular as well.

There are still plenty of proponents of both and different ones do work for different people, but here are some of the pros and cons of each.

Let’s look at low-carb first.

The Low Carb Diet For Weight Loss

I’m using low carb as a blanket term, but mainly I’m focusing on keto and Atkins. Some would argue that the paleo diet would come under this as well, as a typical paleo diet will be relatively low in carbs, but not to the extent that Atkins or keto go.

So what are the pros of let’s call it a very low carb diet?

First off, it can be fairly simple to follow the so-called rules.

Basically, mainly fats, some protein and a few green vegetables, except you can have a lot of the foods that used to be demonized.

So things like butter, cream, probably bacon. You can have all these things and still be fully compliant with the diet or eating plan that you’re following.

You also see a rapid initial weight loss.

And I’m saying very specifically weight loss. That doesn’t necessarily mean fat loss.

What happens when you switch from moderate to high carb, to low carb, is that your body’s glycogen stores reduce. Glycogen plays a part in your body storing water. So as that goes your body loses a lot more water weight.

Next up and I need to choose my words very carefully – and this is something you 100% need to speak to your doctor or qualified medical professional about – but some studies have shown that the keto diet or a low carb diet can help with blood sugar management.

But like I said, do not take this as medical advice.

It is something that you need to speak to someone in-person about.

And lastly, what I find is that high-fat foods are just more satisfying.

You feel fuller, you feel more satisfied and you’re less likely to want to pick or snack or leave your meals feeling like you haven’t had enough.

Disadvantages Of Low Carb Diets For Weight Loss

For the fact that the rules are fairly simple to follow, they can still be very difficult to stick to.

A lot of us are brought up on a diet with moderate to high carbs, and a lot of the foods that we enjoy are carb-based, and there’s a lot more variety of carb-based foods as well.

Next up as your body adapts to using fat as its primary fuel source, you may go through a little bit of… I think they call it “keto flu”.

So expect feelings of nausea, dizziness, headaches, and maybe a few other symptoms as well.

There is also such a thing as keto breath. So your breath stinks or smells metallic, when you are in ketosis.

Something that you will also want to speak to a qualified dietician or doctor about, but eliminating whole food groups can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

If you think about the fact that you’re eliminating a lot of vegetables, most fibre sources and all fruit, there’s a very good chance you’re going to be lacking fibre, lacking vitamins, lacking minerals, and that can have a knock on impact on your health.

With the right guidance and support from a qualified professional, low carb can probably be done healthily, but very definitely get medical or professional advice before starting it.

Low Fat Diet For Weight Loss

Let’s look at the low-fat diet, which is not necessarily as clearly defined by set guidelines as the keto diet is, or as a low carb diet is, but it’s largely the opposite of keto.

So with keto, you are dropping your carbs and increasing your fats. With low fat, you are dropping your fats and increasing your carbs and probably your proteins as well.

Benefits Of A Low Fat Diet For Weight Loss

Number one, it’s quite easy to stick to. You just basically stick to foods that have a lower fat content than what you were having before.

Depending on what you’re having, it can be very nutritious. If you are focused on nutrition, then you’ll be getting plenty of fruit and vegetables in.

It’s much less restrictive in food choices than a low carb diet is.

All fruit and vegetables are pretty much fine.

And if you are concerned about the fat content of foods, almost any and every food item available has a low or lower fat version as well.

Another one that’s important to remember is that having some fats in your diet won’t have the same knock on effect as someone who’s doing low carb and starts introducing some carbs.

With the keto diet or low carb diet going into that mode of using fat as your fuel source is called ketosis.

And if you have some carbs, you may come out of ketosis.

You’re not likely to have that same kind of knock on impact when you are following a low-fat diet.

And lastly, lower fat foods tend to be much lower in calories as well which means that you can get a much higher volume of food.

So if you enjoy big portions, that might be a better one to go for.

Disadvantages Of Low Fat Diets

You may not enjoy your meals as much.

Lower fat variations of pretty much every food taste nowhere near as good as the “normal” or full-fat version.

I used to say lower fat variations suck all the joy out of the food.

Also, if you are trying to have more vegetables, that will absolutely suck unless you learn how to cook them or prepare them in a way that you enjoy.

To be fair, most stereotypes that you see of people hating doing diets and that whole thing comes from generally how people tend to react to low fat or extremely low-fat diets.

Your meals or your food might not be as satisfying. You’re missing the sort of satiety and the feeling ofsatisfaction that some fats will give you.

And it’s also really, really important to remember that your body does need some fats.

So “low fat” should never mean “no fat”.

Fats are not a food group to demonise.

So Is Low Fat Or Low Carb Better?

Neither is really better than the other for most people.

It largely depends on your goals, your medical history, your food preferences, your lifestyle, and which you feel more comfortable sticking to.

For weight loss, aside from the initial sudden drop that you’re likely to get from low carb, neither has really been shown to outperform the other, in terms of long-term fat loss.

Some people prefer the higher volume of food you get from low-fat foods.

Some people prefer the feeling of satisfaction you get from the higher fat foods.

But there is some room for middle ground.

And this is usually what my nutrition follows, where you’re having moderate carbs, moderate fat, moderate protein.

And with that approach, you don’t need to ban or restrict entire food groups.

You have a lot more flexibility in the food choices you make. And in my own view, that’s really the best way.

Lastly, I’ve already mentioned it before but nothing I’ve said here should be taken as medical advice.

If you have any specific questions, please speak to a registered dietician or consult a medical professional on which diet you should choose.

low carb or low fat for weight loss

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