Earlier this month (February), there was an interesting nutrition and diet study that popped up in my email and newsfeed. I even got a couple text messages about it.
The study examined the effects of a low-carb diet versus a low-fat-diet over a 12-month period. The participants were encouraged to eat whole foods and instead of being given a calorie goal. Group 1 was given the additional goal of limitting their daily carb intake, and group 2 was given the goal of limitting their daily fat intake. Initially, each group was given a target for carbs or fat intake, but then they were allowed to increase the daily amount to a place that was sustainable. The researchers also looked at genetic and insulin markers to see if that played a role in weight loss.
Ultimately, there was no significant difference between either diet. Both groups experienced the same amount of weight loss. The researchers also noted that the genetic and insulin markers had no effect on weight loss.
Check out this great breakdown by the folks over at Examine.com: https://examine.com/nutrition/low-fat-vs-low-carb-for-weight-loss/
You can read the whole study here.
What does this mean for us?
Well, it means that weight loss has more to do with the total caloric intake then where it comes from.
Fromteh Examine.com interview, it seems that the relationship with food was also a key factor for the participants.
This is interesting because how you perceive food can play a big role in overeating.
The participants were put into a caloric deficit by being encouraged to eat minimally, so long as it was sustainable. That in itself changes how someone views food.
Instead of feeling restricted by a specific target, they are encouraged find what works for them.
It’s a small twist with big implications.
We know that a deficit in calorie intake is needed to lose weight. How we go about it (low carb or low fat) is totally dependent on the person.
That’s why ALL diets work. Sometimes they work for very long times because a person really feels that the diet is THEIR diet and that helps them be consistent. Other times, the diet works for short periods and is not sustainable because there is a lot of resistance to following the diet. Eventually, that resistance wins.
Key takeaways for weight loss diets…
Find ways to create a deficit either via low carb or low-fat strategies, in general, make sure to eat less.
Get comfortable with going with the flow. One day you may cut back on calories from starches and another day from fat, both are okay. Do what helps you stay in a deficit for longer times.
Listen to your body. Harder is not better and less does not mean more. The participants scaled up their fat or carb intake depending on how they felt. I suspect that some days, that meant higher intakes of carbs/fats and calories.