Low carb or low fat? Which should you follow?

By Su

low carb

As far as I know, in the food world there are certain discussions that seem to go on endlessly. Vegan vs Paleo for instance, or even more frequently low carb vs low fat.

This article is not to throw any one off of their present game. If something is working for you, then who I am to judge? What I would like to do here is present some information regarding this discussion and lend my opinion based on my experience.

But let’s just address this one simple fact first. If you are eating healthy, which usually means you shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, you are doing way better than most. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, you are doing a great job keeping healthy by staying away from the processed crap.

My general thoughts are: if it has a label its a product, if not it’s food.

That is pretty simple right? Yet most people shop primarily down the processed food aisles, which is where most people’s health goes seriously wrong.

So….

Low Carb vs Low Fat

low fat vs low carbAs I am writing this I have a mountain of tabs open siting so many studies. It baffles me how anyone can riffle through all these and still make sense of it all.

I hope no one minds if I condense some of these studies to the most laymen possible terms so we can digest this information and move on to a conclusion with this article.

Let’s get rolling!

For simplicity purposes, let’s call Low Carb (LC) and Low fat (LF).

When considering the vast amount of studies, which I have listed links below to some of these should you want to further research them, they really boil down to how they improve the following:

  • Triglycerides
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • LDL Cholesterol
  • HDL Cholesterol
  • Blood Sugar
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Weight Loss

Triglycerides:

What are they? – Triglycerides are a fat lipid found in the blood. As you eat, anything your body does not successfully convert to calories are turned into triglycerides and stored right in the fat cells. Bummer huh?

The result of high triglycerides contributes to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack or maybe even heart disease. This is a direct result of the thickening of the artery walls which harden in the presence of triglycerides and cholesterol.

THE WINNER: Low carb groups generally reduce triglycerides by several percentages below LF.

Insulin Sensitivity:

In the simplest terms insulin sensitivity is how sensitive your body is to insulin. Bet you didn’t see that coming. No really, it’s likes watching the movie Old Yeller. Some people cry a lot sooner than the end and that is to say that everyone has a level of sensitivity different to the other.

An individual who is referred to as insulin sensitive will need less insulin to lower blood glucose levels than say someone who has a low sensitivity.

Those with low sensitivity can be referred to as insulin resistant and often require larger amounts of insulin either from their pancreas or injection. Neither one sounds like a good thing to me. I think I was at one point in time dependent on the pancreas and I never ended up doing injections but I certainly had metabolic syndrome which is a precursor to diabetes.

The result of having a low sensitivity for a prolonged period of time can end up in a wide range of health problems like high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, heart failure. The list really goes on.

THE WINNER: Low carb showed improvement, those in the LF groups actually got worse

LDL Cholesterol:

Remember that western THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Well in the world of Cholesterol there is good and bad, and if you are consuming the bad it will get pretty ugly. LDL can lead to heart disease, stroke, artery blockage, heart disease and so on. Its not a nice list and it will cut your life short. So LDL is the cholesterol you do not want in your life.

THE WINNER IS: LF only

HDL Cholesterol:

If it were Christmas the LDL would go on the naughty list and the HDL would be sitting on a mountain of benefits with the nice list

Think of HDL cholesterol as a blog making its way through the arteries tracking down the bad guys and rounding them up. HDL literally hunts down LDL. So having higher levels of HDL is very good.

THE WINNER: LC  increase HDL levels while LF decreased the HDL levels.

Blood Sugar:

Blood sugar is directly related to insulin levels. If it takes two to tango, blood sugar and insulin sensitivity are caught up in a dance together.

When someone is diabetic they constantly have high blood sugar levels. This can lead to a general erosion of the pancreas ability to produce insulin. If this goes on for too long you can generally see permanent damage in the pancreas as a not too distant future.

Then comes nerve damage, slow wound healing, vision loss, heart attacks, kidney failure, and sorry fellas…. erectile dysfunction.

THE WINNER: LC levels went down several times more than LF groups

Type 2 Diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes generally does not develop out of a vacuum. There is IMPAIRED GLUCOSE TOLERANCE, METABOLIC SYNDROME, then TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2 DIABETES. Type 1 diabetes presently has no known cure or treatment that can really turn back that clock. Type 2 however usually progresses through the former two levels I mentioned just now.

Type 2 Diabetes can lead to all sorts of health problems and is becoming more and more common these days. But it is not a life sentence and there are natural ways to reverse this process which i plan to go into greater detail in later articles.

THE WINNER: Almost all of the patients with diabetes in the study groups reduced or eliminated their medications. In the low carb group that was just under 100% where as with LF it was more like 3/4 of the group.

So who was the winner, low carb or low fat?

Clearly Low Carb had the most wins across all categories relevant to these studies. But Low Fat is far from being a loser here. Low Fat, though maybe not as successful as Low carb, did bring some very positive results to the table that cannot be discredited.

So when deciding between low carb and low fat, weigh out the options, look into what foods are involved and ultimately ask yourself this: Will i stick with this diet?

Because in the end, this is what really matters.

In fact, lets not call it a diet, lets call it a life choice. Make it healthy!

Sources:

A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women

The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet vs a Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat

A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women

Perceived Hunger Is Lower and Weight Loss Is Greater in Overweight Premenopausal Women Consuming a Low-Carbohydrate/High-Protein vs High-Carbohydrate/Low-Fat Diet

Comparison of a Low-Fat Diet to a Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Weight Loss, Body Composition, and Risk Factors for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease in Free-Living, Overweight Men and Women

Short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in Type 2 diabetes—a randomized controlled trial

A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity

A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity

Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight adolescents

The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms.

Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal WomenThe A TO Z Weight Loss Study: A Randomized Trial

Low- and high-carbohydrate weight-loss diets have similar effects on mood but not cognitive performance

A low-carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects

The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus

Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet

Effects of weight loss from a very-low-carbohydrate diet on endothelial function and markers of cardiovascular disease risk in subjects with abdominal obesity

Metabolic Effects of Weight Loss on a Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diet Compared With an Isocaloric High-Carbohydrate Diet in Abdominally Obese Subjects

Carbohydrate Restriction has a More Favorable Impact on the Metabolic Syndrome than a Low Fat Diet

Long-term effects of a very-low-carbohydrate weight loss diet compared with an isocaloric low-fat diet after 12 mo

Lack of suppression of circulating free fatty acids and hypercholesterolemia during weight loss on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet

Efficacy and Safety of a High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diet for Weight Loss in Severely Obese Adolescents

In type 2 diabetes, randomisation to advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet transiently improves glycaemic control compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet producing a similar weight loss

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About the Author

BochakornBOCHAKORN BOONSERM (MAAM) began her education in conventional medicine as a nurse, then shifted to embrace natural healing and integrative medicines. Her training and certifications abroad include: Nutrition and Western Herbal Medicines, Acupuncture and Moxibustion.

During her therapeutic sessions, she may also incorporate other aspects of integrative medicines when required, including: acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, nutritional, supplements and herbal recommendation.

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