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Low-fat vs. low-carb: Which diet is best for weight loss?

With so many diet types to choose from, how do we know which one will suit us best? One problem that may face us is deciding whether to go low-fat or low-carb.

Keto diets, Mediterranean diets, fasting diets — there are so many options out there for people who want to lose weight.

However, choosing a diet is tricky; how do we know which one will work best for us, or if the diet will work at all?

Low-Carb Diets

Many health professionals believe that a low-carb diet (higher in fat and protein) is a much better option to treat obesity and other chronic diseases.

By cutting carbs, the claim is that weight loss will be easier because your body will instead burn fat for fuel while feeling less hungry.

A lot of people lose a lot of weight in the first week on a low-carb diet, but it is mostly water weight. Weight loss will slow down significantly after this initial phase.

Of course, losing weight is not the same as losing fat. Focusing on fat loss is a much more beneficial approach than weight loss, which will move towards a goal of being leaner and healthier overall.

It is possible, especially if you’re new to weight lifting, that you are gaining muscle at the same time as you’re losing fat.

It is also important to eat enough fat. If you try to cut back on carbs and fat at the same time, you will end up ravenously hungry and feel bad.

The basics of a Low-Carb Diet

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables growing above ground and natural fats (like butter).

Avoid: Sugar and starchy foods (like bread, pasta, rice, beans and potatoes).

Low-Fat Diets

A low-fat diet is where less than a third (30%) of our energy (calories) comes from fat. Some people need to eat even less fat, so as little as one fifth (20%) or even one tenth (10%) of the energy they need comes from fat.

Fat is a concentrated form of energy – you only need a small amount of fat take on a lots of calories. Carbohydrates and proteins provide fewer calories, so a low-fat diet is often more bulky and higher in fibre.

The basics of a Low-Fat Diet

Eat: Lean meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, oats and rice

Avoid: Butter, oils, margarine, chocolate, cream

So, what works? Low-Carb, or Low-Fat?

Both higher carb, low-fat diets and low carb, high fat diets can work for weight loss, and this has been shown time and time again in research. So long as calories and protein intake are controlled for, it really doesn’t matter which diet an individual follows – he or she will lose weight.

And research has shown that it didn’t matter at all whether people were focusing on their fat intake or their carb intake. On average, both groups consumed about the same number of calories each day and, even though some individuals gained or lost more weight than others, both groups lost about the same amount of weight.

In the short term you can probably lose weight by eating only raw foods, or going vegan, or cutting out gluten or following another diet plan that catches your eye. But what will work for you over the long term is a different question.

There is no single set of guidelines that help everyone lose weight and keep it off. It’s why diets often fail – they don’t factor into account the many factors that drive us to eat what we do.

To help people lose weight, the ideal situation is to examine your eating and physical activity routines to identify improvements you as an individual will be able to live with.

What sticks is what matters

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