Low-Fat vs Low-Carb? Here’s What Research Is Actually Saying

low-fat vs low-carb, dieting, whole foods

Low-Fat vs Low-Carb? Here’s What Research Is Actually Saying

Written by: Emilyn Gil 

I’m an excellent dieter. Yes sir, I am absolutely dedicated, diligent and successful for a whole week before I quit.

Maybe your story is similar to mine, or maybe you’ve been dieting for longer than you can remember. Either way, wouldn’t it be nice to find that ultimate, research proven, fool-proof diet?

Low-Fat vs Low-Carb

There are countless dieting plans out there. Vegan, vegetarian, keto, raw and the list goes on. But there are two diets in particular that seem to bump heads quite a bit. Low-fat and low-carb.

Let’s end the fight right now. Which one is better? Read on, because we have the research to prove it.

Gardner’s Study

Dr. Christopher Gardner conducted a study along with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) and other experts that gave us the answer to our dieting question. 

Dr. Gardner observed 600 participants for the year-long study. Half of the participants were put on a low-carb diet with the instructions to consume only 20 grams of carbs a day for two months. The other half of the participants were put on a low-fat diet with the instructions to consume only 20 grams of fat a day for two months.

At month 3, each group was instructed to increase their carb or fat intake (respectively) until it was at a level that they believed they would be able to maintain long term. This part of the study was very important.

The point of the study was to test whether genetics or insulin production could predict weight loss for either group of dieters after 1 year of the program. They also measured weight change, cholesterol, fasting glucose, blood pressure and body fat (DXA) throughout the study. 

At the end of the study, the researchers were surprised to find that the combined weight loss was 6,600 pounds! They also saw that although there were overall improvements in all the measured categories, there were no notable differences between the two groups and that genotypes and insulin made no significant difference in weight loss.

So, What’s The Point Then?

The short answer, there’s no difference between a low-fat or low-carb diet, which ultimately means you can choose what’s best for you!

The long answer, there are 5 important dieting details I left out of the study that ultimately made all the difference.

The 5 Dieting Tips That Count

As part of the study, the participants were encouraged to follow these dieting tips throughout the year and it is these tips that researchers believe made the biggest impact on their lifestyle.

#1. More Veggies!

Vegetables are SO much more important than we make them out to be! And our body needs a whole lot more of these fresh and crunchy guys than we think it does. Put yourself to the test! When putting together your meals for the day, try to fill half of your plate with vegetables before anything else. You may be surprised at the difference it makes!

#2. Minimize Added Sugars, Refined Flours And Trans Fats

In the journey toward industrialization and innovation, refined and processed foods have become increasingly available and accepted in grocery stores and pantries all around the world. But these foods aren’t what your body is asking for! Spend just a little extra time checking labels and save yourself extra time by skipping the junk food isles to avoid sugars, refined flours and trans fats.

#3. Focus On Whole Foods

Fill your fridge and plate with minimally processed and nutrient dense foods and prepare meals at home whenever possible. You’ll find that by simply setting your mind on whole foods will help in your journey towards healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. And really, is there anything better than home-prepared meals? Remember, even with a busy lifestyle, there are plenty of quick and easy recipes to whip up at home and take with you on the go!

#4. Dietary Support

During Dr. Gardner’s study, his participants were able to receive dietary counseling throughout the entire year. Although you may not have access to the exact dieting experts used in the study, there are tons of resources out there for you to get the counseling and support you need for your dieting journey. There may be classes and courses offered in your community or other helpful tutorials and blogs on the internet. If you’re having trouble finding something near you, try getting together with a few of your friends and starting a Facebook group where you can share recipes and encouraging messages daily!

#5. Maintenance Is Key

The most important take-away from this study was the fact that at month 3 each participant was given the freedom to choose the carb or fat intake that they felt they could maintain long term. By the end of the study it was found that none of them were able to keep their intake down to the 20 grams. If they had tried to continue at this low intake, the majority of them probably would have dropped out, or gone directly back to their unhealthy eating habits after the study.

The most important diet for you is the one that you know you can maintain. It doesn’t matter if it seems insignificant or if you don’t see results right away. As long as its a healthy lifestyle that you can keep up long term, that’s what counts! Take it at your pace and celebrate every day of your diet, because that’s one more day of healthy living!

It’s Not A Diet, It’s A Lifestyle

So, low-fat, low-carb, whole foods, veggies what will YOU choose? Try out these 5 dieting tips and let us know in the comments how it goes for you! If if helps, don’t think of it as a diet. Think of it as YOUR personal healthy lifestyle!

Remember, we’re in this together.

Emilyn Gil

Emilyn Gil

Emilyn Gil is a 22 year old English Major at UVU. She started writing at age 6, and since then has won several awards including the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key and was featured in the Kolob Canyon Review in Cedar City. Aside from the written word, her other passions include performing in the occasional musical theater production, and playing piano, guitar, and ukulele. Some of her favorite pastimes are baking, napping, and spending time with family. She likes monkeys, homemade rolls, and the color yellow. She has traveled to Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, and Canada, and currently resides in Orem, Utah with her husband Jorge. You can find more of her work online at emilyaddn.blogspot.com or on Instagram at @emilyncan.
Emilyn Gil

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