- Both low-carb and low-fat diets can be effective in weight loss, with recent studies showing similar results between the two.
- A study involving around 600 adults on low-carb or low-fat diets resulted in nearly identical weight loss, regardless of diet type.
- Diet followings were encouraged to decrease fat or carbohydrate intake without necessarily counting calories, opt for whole foods, and avoid nutritionally poor “shortcut” foods.
- Expert dietitians advise against quick-fix diets. Successful weight loss plans should meet nutritional requirements, effectively manage calorie intake and be enjoyable.
- A balanced, healthy, predominantly plant-based diet, combined with portion control and new lifestyle habits, is recommended for sustained weight loss.
It is often a topic of great debate among health enthusiasts and nutrition experts: which diet is more effective in weight loss – low-carb or low-fat? However, recent studies suggest that both diets may offer similar results.
Comparing Weight Loss in Low-Carb and Low-Fat Diets
Approximately 600 adults, who were overweight by 15 to 100 pounds, participated in an experiment where they followed either a low-carb or low-fat diet under proper supervision for an entire year.
Christopher Gardner, an esteemed study author, stated that the goal was to identify factors from previous studies which might help determine which diet was more beneficial for specific individuals. However, both diet types resulted in almost identical weight loss.
Interestingly, Gardner and his team did not uncover any distinct variables to explain why some people appear to lose more weight than others, irrespective of the diet methodology.
Study Details and Interesting Findings
Adults between the age of 18 and 50 participated in the study, of which close to 60% were women. The participants were advised to decrease either their fat or carbohydrate consumption, as opposed to counting calories.
Participants were encouraged to avoid nutritionally poor “shortcut” foods that are often marketed as “low-carb” or “low-fat” and to cook for themselves, reduce snacking, dine with loved ones, limit TV-time meals, eschew sugar and refined grains, eat an abundance of vegetables, and opt for whole foods whenever possible.
At the conclusion of the study, the results varied drastically. A few dieters lost a whopping 60 pounds, while others gained 20 pounds. Similarly, neither genetic screening nor insulin tracking could give any indication of a predisposition for weight loss or weight gain.
Similar Results from Both Diet Types
When Gardner’s team compared the two groups, they found the outcomes to be very similar. On average, the low-carb diet followers lost 13 pounds, and followers of the low-fat diet lost 12 pounds by the end of the year.
The results were published in a periodical, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Expert Opinions on the Matter
Registered dietitian, Connie Diekman, who is the Director of Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, wasn’t surprised by the results of the study. She said, “While it would be nice to find a way to determine the best diet for an individual, from this research it is clear that we aren’t there yet.”
According to Diekman, this study strengthens the recommendation that a successful weight loss plan must meet nutritional requirements, manage calorie intake efficiently and should be enjoyable.
Meanwhile, Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian with New York University’s Medical Center, warned against dieting as a “fix-it-quick” method for weight loss. She advises patients to follow a balanced, healthy, predominantly plant-based diet and monitor portions. She says that for the majority of people, this would require willingness to learn and adapt to new lifestyle habits.
For further reading on healthy eating, you may refer to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s website.