One approach to weight loss that has gained recognition with supporting scientific evidence is to go low on carbohydrates. This strategy recommends extreme restriction of carb intake to less than 20 grams per day. This level of carb restriction can induce serum and urinary ketones and trigger weight loss.
A low-fat diet, on the other hand, demonstrates that body weight can be lost merely by reducing the fat content of the diet without the need to restrict food intake voluntarily. When you cut fat from your diet, the body starts using the fat stores to compensate for the energy intake through fats. Let us now look into the various benefits of following a low-carb diet and a low-fat diet.1 2
1. Functions Of Complex Carbs In Your Body
Starch and sugars provide the bulk of dietary energy, glucose, and fatty acids. They provide an economical and quick source of calories. An adequate supply of carbs determines the amount of fat to be metabolized for energy. Excess carbohydrates readily transform into fat.
Fat synthesis can be induced by sustained, deliberate ingestion of large excesses of carbohydrates. Sugars derived from plant sources such as fungi, algae, and higher plants are excellent biological response modifiers. They provide our body the ability to regulate immune functions better, even fighting tumors.3 4
Excess carbohydrates promote excess insulin release, increase the incidence of dental caries, irritate the gastrointestinal mucosa, depress appetite, cause obesity and increase the blood triglyceride level which in turn leads to heart diseases.5
2. Role Of Healthy Fats In Your Body
Dietary fats found in our food is vital for growth and development of the body. Essential fatty acids benefit several aspects of human health. Not only are they used for energy but are also incorporated into cell membranes, making them vital for the functioning of most cells. They are also used to make hormones, are essential for nervous tissue and for regulating inflammation.
Signs of a deficiency in healthy fatty acids include dry skin, dry eyes, dry hair, depression and mood disorders, hyperactivity and learning disorders in children; most inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel, eczema and asthma; and hormone imbalances such as PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
Essential fatty acids can have other benefits like preventing cardiovascular disease, ensuring fertility, improving immune function, protecting against some cancers and guarding against the negative effects of diabetes. However, bad fats such as hydrogenated and trans-fats interfere with the correct functioning of healthy fatty acids and cause much harm to the body.
They have altered chemical structures which are not recognized by the body and contribute to some diseases including heart disease, raised cholesterol levels, allergies, nervous disorders, and cancer.6
3. A Low-Carb Diet
A low-carb meal plan may sound like a complex diet to those who are fond of their pizzas and pasta and desserts. The low-carb diet aims at depleting glycogen stores by severely restricting carbohydrates. The leads to ketosis, which is essentially a metabolic process wherein the body burns stored fat in the absence of sugars. The higher protein consumption is also highly satiating and reduces cravings, binges and spontaneous food intake.7
The low-carb diet is also effective in attaining instant weight loss as the body starts to use the fat stores for energy since only 20 grams of dietary carbs intake is allowed daily. Low-carb diets are in particular effective in reducing inflammatory diseases like insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. It can also alleviate gastrointestinal problems that are related to intake of sugars and certain allergies, chronic pain and immune system weaknesses.8
The low carbohydrate diet is appealing to many as it leads to greater weight loss, reduction in serum triglyceride levels and increases in good cholesterol. The most significant concern with a low carb diet is that the increase in fat intake can have detrimental effects on serum lipid levels. It is helpful to monitor the serum lipid profiles while on this diet to keep a watch on the triglyceride levels.
Also, the symptoms that can occur at the initiation phase of the diet that include weakness, headaches, constipation and muscle cramps are short lived and may be reduced by copious fluid intake, consumption of allowed amounts of vegetables and daily multivitamin and mineral supplements. 9
4. A Low-Fat Diet
The low-fat diet restricts the energy intake of women to 1500 kcal per day and 1800 kcal per day for men with 30 percent of calories from fat, 10 percent from saturated fat and an intake of 300 mg of cholesterol per day. Low-fat high-fiber diets can promote weight loss in patients with type 2 diabetes without causing unfavorable alterations in plasma lipids or glycemic control.10
5. Low-Carb Diet Vs Low-Fat Diet
Although popular and effective for weight loss a low-carb, high-protein, and high-fat diets have been associated with adverse changes in blood and renal biomarkers if the fat intake goes overboard. However, consuming the high protein diet can keep you satiated for a longer time and less hungry. Both diets can show significantly lower levels of total cholesterol, insulin, and uric acid concentrations in blood at fasting levels.
Urinary calcium excretion is high in consuming the high protein diet indicating the increase in dietary calcium with consumption of this diet. Hence, apparent calcium balance is not adversely affected.
Thus, the low-fat energy-restricted diets of varying protein content promote healthy weight loss, but diet satisfaction will be greater in consuming the low-carb high-protein diet hence making it easy to adhere to for a much longer duration extending the weight loss.11
With the mentioned pros and cons of the low-carb and low-fat diet, you can pick the right choice for you based on the target health and weight loss you want to achieve according to your body condition. Choosing the proper diet with adequate exercise and lifestyle modifications can quickly take you on the road to a healthier you.
|↑1||Kendall, Anne, David A. Levitsky, Barbara J. Strupp, and Lauren Lissner. “Weight loss on a low-fat diet: consequence of the imprecision of the control of food intake in humans.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 53, no. 5 (1991): 1124-1129.|
|↑2||Foster, Gary D., Holly R. Wyatt, James O. Hill, Brian G. McGuckin, Carrie Brill, B. Selma Mohammed, Philippe O. Szapary, Daniel J. Rader, Joel S. Edman, and Samuel Klein. “A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity.” New England Journal of Medicine 348, no. 21 (2003): 2082-2090.|
|↑3||Ramesh, Honnavally P., and Rudrapatnam N. Tharanathan. “Carbohydrates—the renewable raw materials of high biotechnological value.” Critical reviews in Biotechnology 23, no. 2 (2003): 149-173.|
|↑4||Flatt, J. P. “Importance of nutrient balance in body weight regulation.” Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews 4, no. 6 (1988): 571-581.|
|↑5||Joshi. “Nutrition & Dietetics 3E.” Tata McGraw-Hill Education, 2010.|
|↑6||Olivier, Suzannah. “The Essential Guide to Foods that Heal.” Hachette UK, 2012.|
|↑7||Astrup, Arne, Thomas Meinert Larsen, and Angela Harper. “Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets: hoax or an effective tool for weight loss?.” The Lancet 364, no. 9437 (2004): 897-899.|
|↑8||Atkins, Robert DC. Dr. Atkins’ new diet revolution. Government Institutes, 2002.|
|↑9||Yancy, William S., Maren K. Olsen, John R. Guyton, Ronna P. Bakst, and Eric C. Westman. “A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia A randomized, controlled trial.” Annals of internal medicine 140, no. 10 (2004): 769-777.|
|↑10||Gerhard, Glenn T., Andrew Ahmann, Kaatje Meeuws, Martha P. McMurry, P. Barton Duell, and William E. Connor. “Effects of a low-fat diet compared with those of a high-monounsaturated fat diet on body weight, plasma lipids and lipoproteins, and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80, no. 3 (2004): 668-673.|
|↑11||Johnston, Carol S., Sherrie L. Tjonn, and Pamela D. Swan. “High-protein, low-fat diets are effective for weight loss and favorably alter biomarkers in healthy adults.” The Journal of nutrition 134, no. 3 (2004): 586-591.|