Low-carb Diet Vs. Low-fat Diet: Which Is Better for Fat Loss?


There’s a lot of conflicting research out there. One day fats are enemy #1, and the next they’re the basis of the trendiest new diet. Then, it’s carbs that are bad—wait, good! Well, here’s another study to add to the pool. Calorie for calorie, low-fat diets cut more body fat than diets that restrict carbs, according to research published the journal Cell Metabolism. 

For the study, 19 obese individuals were placed on 2,700-calorie per day diets for five days. They then consumed a low-fat diet with 30 percent fewer total calories or a low-carb diet with 30 percent fewer calories for six days. Then, after two to four weeks break, they did the opposite. Over the course of the study, the researchers hyper-analyzed the individuals, inspecting everything they ate, every minute they exercised (they all hopped on a treadmill for one hour each day), and every breath they took to calculate the chemical processes taking place inside their bodies (seriously.) 

The results: The low carb diet resulted in an average loss of 53 grams per day of fat. The low-fat diet, on the other hand, resulted in an average loss of 89 grams per day. So, the low fat diet was the clear winner. 

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The theory goes that the fewer carbs you ingest, the lower your levels of insulin are, which in turn leads to a release of fat from the body’s supply, the researchers say. But, both diets resulted in weight loss so this isn’t to say that a low carb diet is bad necessarily.

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“All of those things do happen with carb reduction and you do lose body fat, but not as much as when you cut out the fat,” lead researcher Kevin Hall, Ph.D., told BBC News. 

Now, let’s look at the subjects of the study: 19 obese men and women. Plus, they were highly monitored so they didn’t have to utilize too much will power to stick to the diets. In real life, Hall said, “If it’s easier to stick to one diet than another, and to ideally do it permanently, then you should choose that diet.”

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The bottom line: Remember that fats and carbs can have a place in every diet. Just focus on good carbs and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids (there’s a reason the FDA banned trans fat)—in moderation.

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