It’s difficult to know what’s better when trying to lose a few pounds, a low-carb approach or a low-fat one, and believe me, I wish I could give you a straight forward answer. Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple – either can be valuable and it completely depends on what your own goals are.
Carbs and fats are both essential parts of anyone’s nutrition so if you make the decision to drastically reduce the amount you eat of either, you need to make sure it’s the right decision. Don’t forget though, as difficult as weight loss can be, it really is just a case of establishing a caloric deficit – as long as the calories you burn exceed the calories you take in then weight loss has to occur.
Whether it’s low-fat or low-carb just remember it doesn’t mean you have to cut either of them out completely. So the idea isn’t you eliminate all the fats that you would regularly eat for example, you just reduce the total amount. In fact with a low-fat diet you can often just substitute a lot of foods that contain saturated fats for healthier alternatives.
Fats are obviously hugely important though, they absorb vitamins, provide insulation and even help maintain cell membranes. One thing that people struggle with when they decide what to cut back on is knowing what specific foods they should eliminate. With fats things you can cut out include:
- Red meats
- Whole milk
Adopting a low-carb approach is far more common and has been the basis for a number of successful weight loss plans, including the Atkins. As you can probably work out though, cutting back on something like potatoes, pasta or bread will probably leave a slightly larger hole in your diet than just eliminating butter. As a result of this people who look to low-fat options tend to eat more during the day and feel less hungry than people who take on a low-carb diet.
Here are a few of the benefits of each:
- More short-term results
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Often replaces processed foods with meats, fish, nuts, etc.
- Allows consumption of more fruits and vegetables
- Less likely to have feelings of hunger
Really you shouldn’t be using either as the basis for a long-term nutritional plan because both carbs and fats are massively important – if you drastically reduce either you risk missing out on vital nutrients. Weight loss isn’t about just cutting out one aspect of your nutrition, realistically that’s not something you can maintain long-term. You might notice good results to start off with but it really isn’t going to be sustainable.
As I’ve said before it’s about getting into good habits, especially if you can use these habits to replace some other bad ones. Cycling any sort of nutritional regime can be difficult to get right, not to mention if you get it really wrong it can be detrimental to your health. Professional advice is therefore essential to make sure you get it right first time!