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Low-carb vs low-fat for weight loss: Which diet is more effective in burning calories?
Food & Health  

New Delhi: One thing anybody trying to lose weight would want to know is – what is the best diet to shed those extra pounds? Paleo diets, Keto diets, Mediterranean diets, fasting diets - with so many options out there, it can be really tricky to know or choose which diet is best for you to lose the weight. Moreover, no one diet is best for everyone, and what works for someone else may not work for you. And one common problem that may face dieters is deciding whether to opt for a low-fat diet or a low-carb diet when trying to shed the pounds. But, what exactly are low-fat and low-carb diets, how do they help you lose weight, or which one is better in order to burn more calories?


Low-carb diets vs low-fat diets
A low-carb diet is a diet that limits the intake of carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta, and bread. Basically, low-carb diets are high in protein, fat, and healthy vegetables. Studies suggest that low-carb diets can cause significant weight loss and offer many health benefits. This diet is based on eating real, unprocessed, low-carb foods – meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils, etc. However, you should avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, highly processed food, trans fats, diet and low-fat products, etc.
As the name suggests, a low-fat diet is one that restricts fat intake. Low-fat diets are designed to help reduce diseases such as heart disease, obesity and improve cholesterol levels. Basically, a low-fat diet will include foods such as – whole grains, lean meats, white fish, reduced fat dairy - skimmed milk and low-fat yogurt – vegetables, lentils, and fruits. This diet plan involves avoiding fatty foods, such as butter, cheese, and other fried or sautéed foods containing high amounts of unhealthy fats.
So, which one is better for you?
Since both diets claim to promote weight loss, how do you know which one will be better for shedding the pounds? According to a study done by the researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, both low-fat and low-carb diets are equally effective in losing weight, as long as you’re consuming the right type of foods. This means neither is better than the other, but what matters is a good, balanced diet.
To come to this conclusion, researchers conducted a randomised clinical trial with 609 overweight adults (only 481 completed the experiment) aged 18-50, with an almost 50:50 male-to-female ratio. They were split into two groups and randomly assigned one of two diets: low-carb or low-fat. All of the study participants followed their assigned diet for a full year.
The study revealed that participants who followed a low-fat diet for one year lost almost 12 pounds, on average, whereas, those people who followed a low-carb diet dropped roughly 13 pounds.  
“In this 12-month weight loss diet study, there was no significant difference in weight change between a healthy low-fat diet versus a healthy low-carbohydrate diet, and neither genotype pattern nor baseline insulin secretion was associated with the dietary effects on weight loss,” the study said.  
The findings of the research suggested that food quality was even important than dietary plan. Also, successful dieters who shed the most pounds were the ones who consumed less sugar and refined flour but ate more vegetables.
“I think one place we go wrong is telling people to figure out how many calories they eat and then telling them to cut back on 500 calories, which makes them miserable. We really need to focus on that foundational diet, which is more vegetables, more whole foods, less added sugar and less refined grains,” Christopher D Gardner, lead author of the study, said.
“This study closes the door on some questions - but it opens the door to others. We have gobs of data that we can use in secondary, exploratory studies,” Prof  Gardner adds.
“On both sides [referring to low-carb and low-fat dieters], we heard from people who had lost the most weight that we had helped them change their relationship to food, and that now they were more thoughtful about how they ate,” Prof Gardner concludes.
Furthermore, the researchers encourage people on a weight loss journey to just be more mindful about what they eat, since that will be the first step to a more healthful lifestyle.



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Thought of the day

“It’s time to start making better choices.”