3. Low-carb diet
Defined as: Getting 15–40% of daily calories from carbs; the remaining 85-60% is split between protein and fat.
Pros: Compared to eating a traditional diet, switching to a low-carb diet can significantly reduce body fat, studies show. Cap your carb intake at 20% of daily calories and the weight-loss results are even stronger—plus, you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Some research suggests low-carb diets are even better than low-fat diets: One study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who limited their carbs lost eight more pounds than those who cut back on fat. If you cut back on carbs enough, your body learns to burn fat as fuel instead. Studies are mixed on how low-carb diets affect performance, but some evidence suggests that endurance performance can actually improve among people whose bodies adapt to fat-burning fairly easily.
Cons: Teaching your body to burn fat instead of carbs takes time, so you have to be patient while you feel sluggish during the weeks it takes to become fat-adapted. And not every body burns fat as efficiently as carbs, so your endurance may never measure up (though, as we said before, others actually see an improvement here.) Without carbs, your body’s ability to generate explosive energy will most likely decline, so if you love sprinting or HIIT, you might need to consume more carbs than other low-fat dieters. And while you’ll probably lose body fat, this kind of diet is actually keeping you focused on the wrong macro: Studies have proven that the higher protein aspect of a low-carb diet helps promote weight loss, rather than the lower carb count.
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