Low carb vs. low fat: Which is better for weight loss?

September 15, 2014

They say changing what you eat is the most important part of a weight loss plan, but with so many fad diets and food claims it’s a challenge just to figure out what to eat anymore! When it comes to the great debate of which is better for weight loss – a low-carbohydrate diet versus a low-fat diet – findings from a new study show one is better for your waistline and also possibly your heart. According to a report from Reuters, researchers have found that when combined with proper nutritional counseling people on low-carb diets can lose nearly three times more weight and possibly decrease their risk factors for heart disease. Dr. Lydia Bazzano, a professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the study’s lead author, said, “This study shows if you are overweight and have cardiovascular disease risk factors and haven’t had success on other diets, certainly a low-carbohydrate diet is worth a try.” However, she cautions, “This isn’t a license to hit the butter and meat fats, but even very high-fat diets can be healthy.” Carbohydrates include whole grains like brown rice and whole oats, refined grains like white bread, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes. Carbs can also be found in the sugar in processed food and in milk. The year-long study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week randomly assigned 148 obese men and women between the ages of 22 and 75 to either a low-fat or low-carb diet. The low-carb group was instructed to have less than 40 grams of digestible carbs each day and the low-fat group had a limit of no more than 30 percent of their daily calories from fat. Both groups kept their pre-trial physical activity levels. Each group also received nutrition counseling about how to read food labels, how to order at restaurants, portion control and general healthy eating habits. At the end of the study, the low-carb dieters had lost an average of 12 pounds compared to the average 4 pounds lost by the low-fat group. The researchers did not find any increase in LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, in either group. The low-carb group, however, did have lower levels of fat in their blood. Although the low-carb group performed well in this study, Dr. Bazzano cautions, “This isn’t a license to hit the butter and meat fats, but even very high-fat diets can be healthy.”