Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat for Losing Weight

Most diets fail in the long run.

Whatever diet you choose, you’ll probably lose some pounds, but they typically come right back once you stop the diet and resume your normal eating habits. For this reason, health care providers here at One Medical emphasize a sustainable change in eating patterns coupled with exercise.

It’s important to take a mindful approach to eating — have an awareness of when, where, and what you eat that can help you avoid stress eating, binge eating, and the kind of unconscious snacking we all succumb to at work or at home.

But what kind of sustainable eating habits should we aspire to?

One answer comes in a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that looked at the comparative benefits of reducing fat in your diet versus reducing carbohydrates. Unlike many other studies, this study was notable for including a diverse ethnic and racial representation of men and women (average age 45-48) among the participants, so the results are more applicable to the melting pot of society.

The study followed 150 participants for one year, dividing them into two groups: one restricted their carbohydrates to fewer than 40 grams per day, the other restricted their fat to fewer than 30 percent of daily energy intake. Most importantly, overall calories were not restricted.

Here are the key findings:

Those who ate the low-carbohydrate diet, compared to those who ate low-fat, experienced:

  • A greater loss of weight (more than 11 pounds compared to 4)
  • A greater decrease in waist circumference (a difference of one-half inch to one inch)
  • A greater decrease in fat mass
  • Improvement in their cholesterol profile
  • A decrease (compared to a gain in the low-fat group) in laboratory measures of inflammation, an important contributing factor to the atherosclerotic process
  • A decrease (again compared to a gain) in their calculated 10-year risk of having heart disease