Low Fat Versus Low Carb for Weight Loss: 5 Changes to Make

No one becomes morbidly obese by overdosing on avocados or olive oil, yet fat has been demonized in the weight loss circles since the 90’s.

I won’t go into the whole USDA food guide pyramid mistake in this article, but if you’d like to read why it was such a bad idea you can do this in a previous article which can be read by clicking here.

That being said, this does not mean that you can ignore the higher calorie content found in fats.  Nuts are very good for you (raw, NO added oils) but if you eat two pounds a day there will be a price to pay in weight gain.  Same thing with olive oil.  But this doesn’t mean that you should avoid these foods altogether.  That is throwing out the baby with the bath water (and really….did anyone ACTUALLY ever throw a baby out when dumping the bath??).

This low-fat craze, however, was a huge push over the past 3 decades.  And look where it’s gotten us as a society; more obesity, more diabetes, more heart disease and more cancer.  Part of the problem with the low-fat diets is that we replaced the fats with bad carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup and enriched wheat flour, two items that are the worst thing you can do for your weight and your health.

You can still see the remnants of the low-fat craze just by looking at the front of food package.  Some products proudly proclaim themselves to be “low fat” and use healthy in the same sentence.  This is despite the fact that a seasoned biochemist couldn’t pronounce half the ingredients on the label.

Leaving “low fat” out of the battle for weight loss, the carb story has been just as confusing.  Carbs became demonized as a group of macronutrients without thought to whether the carbohydrates came from broccoli or Wonder bread.

With all of that being said, keeping your carb intake lower is probably a good idea.  This particular study reinforces that point by comparing a low-fat diet to a low-carb diet.  In it, researchers compared 148 men and women put on either a low-carbohydrate diet (<40 grams per day) or a low-fat diet (<30% of daily energy intake from total fat with less than 7% coming from saturated fat]).  Here’s what they found after a year’s time:

  • The low-carb diet group lost more weight (7.7 pounds more).
  • The low-carb group lost more fat (1.5% more fat loss).
  • The low-carb group had a better improvement in HDL levels, the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL as well as triglyceride levels.

None of these results are Earth-shattering, but it does become clear that paying attention to your carb count has better payouts on health then does focusing on fat content of your diet.  Just to help you along, here are some tips for lowering your carb intake:

  1. Try mashed cauliflower with spices and olive oil instead of potatoes.
  2. Try jicama tortillas instead of corn or four tortillas, or try romaine lettuce to wrap your fish tacos.
  3. Ditch the sodas and juices – try organic teas or get a SodaStream Crystal and make your own sparkling water with essences.
  4. Ditch sauces and use spices instead (spices with no sugars added, of course).
  5. If you’re going for pasta, try to make it a smaller part of the dish rather than the dominant food group.

So what creative ways have you come up with to lower your carb intake?


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.