Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb – Which Diet is More Effective?

When I first began dieting I really wasn’t sure how to do it properly, so I tried a number of structured diets such as the Atkins Diet and the Cabbage Soup Diet. Although I would start out losing a small amount of weight on these diets, for one reason or another the weight loss results in the end were dismal. It was only when I started following my own diet that focused on nutrition and calorie-control that I really started to see consistent results. My own diet is not necessarily low-fat or low-carb – instead it focuses on eating healthy foods all in moderation.

Low-carb and moderate-fat diets appear to be the best for losing weight.

Low-carb and moderate-fat diets appear to be the best for losing weight.

Many people who are new to dieting wonder which type of diet is more effective for losing weight – low-fat or low-carb. With so many types of diet out there promoting themselves as the best ones for weight loss, answering this question has been tricky. However, a research study was published recently within the New England Journal of Medicine which compared different kinds of popular diets to try to determine which one is, after all, the safest, healthiest, and most effective diet program. Many elements were considered including speed and ease of weight loss, nutrition, and additional factors such as changes in cholesterol values and long term maintenance of weight loss goals. This study was unique in that it considered the impact of these diets over a span of two years, something never before accomplished.

There were three hundred and twenty two participants in the study. The majority (eighty six percent) of them were male. They allowed for the recording of three different points regarding their health and weight loss when on different diets considered by the study.

The study compared a low-fat diet, a moderate-fat diet, and a low-carb diet. The results of the study showed that the low-carb and moderate-fat diets were the most effective for weight loss overall. Though the low-carb diet did generate the most weight loss overall, the results were extremely close to the moderate-fat diet, so the benefits of that program should also not be ignored.

In terms of overall health and cholesterol values, the low-carb diet caused the most favorable changes. Triglycerides were down while HDL levels were up. This, combined with the most lowered weight lead to the highest health benefits among the studied diets.

It is important to note, though, that low-carb diets aren’t all the same. This study did not follow the standard Atkins-style diet because that leans extremely heavily toward eating meats. Instead, the study chose a reduced carbohydrate diet that allowed for lower carb consumption with a higher number of proteins, but those proteins could also come from non-meat sources such as beans. For the sake of the overall health element of the diet, participants in the low-carb diet were encouraged to consume lean meats and to eat them only occasionally, receiving their proteins from vegetarian, plant-based sources instead.

When comparing the results between men and women, there was an interesting difference in that the most weight loss occurred among the women on the moderate-fat diet instead of the low-carb diet. That being said, the low-carb group still lost a large amount of weight. Cholesterol level changes remained the same among men and women depending on the diet they used. What was most surprising about this study was that the low-fat diet – that which had traditionally been the most popular – consistently performed the most poorly.

When choosing the right diet for you, there is something even more important to consider than whether the diet is low-carb or low-fat. The right diet for you will be one that you can incorporate into your life and stick with. Even though a low-carb diet may in theory be the best choice for losing weight, if the diet you choose is too restrictive or difficult then you are going to have a hard time staying with it. This is one thing I learned when first starting out dieting myself. So before you dedicate yourself, emotionally and financially, to following a certain diet make sure it is one you will be able to incorporate into your lifestyle and will suit your personal tastes.

Other Related Posts and Articles you May Find Interesting: “Low Carb Diets”, “Eco-Atkins Diet”, and “Carb Fat Protein Ratio in a Healthy Weight Loss Diet”.


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