Low carb versus low fat? And the winner is …

Diet

Photo credit: Gloria Garcia, Creative Commons

By pH health care professionals

You may be confused about whether a low-fat or low-carb diet is better for your health. You may have even decided that the two diets are interchangeable. So is there an answer? Is one diet better than the other?

What does low carb mean?

The term “low carb” refers to foods that are low in carbohydrates. A carbohydrate is a nutrient that your body uses for energy. Your body breaks down carbohydrates to make glucose -- a sugar that gives you energy. Excess glucose can be stored as fat in the body. The goal of a low-carb diet is to force the body to burn stored fat for energy instead of store excess glucose as fat. Low-carb foods include fish, such as flounder and salmon, poultry and non-starchy vegetables. So a low-carb diet would limit the intake of certain foods such as breads, pasta, cakes, cookies and even certain vegetables (like corn, peas and sweet potatoes) and fruits (like apples, peaches and bananas).

What does low fat mean?

The term “low fat” refers to foods that are low in fat. Fat is another nutrient that the body needs. Your body uses fat as a source of energy and generally burns fat after you have used up all your carbs. Reducing fat in the diet makes it easier to reduce calories because there are nine calories per gram of fat, as opposed to four calories per gram of protein or carbohydrates. A low-fat diet may consist of fruits, veggies and proteins, such as lean meat and fish.

So, which approach is better?

Studies show that a low-carb diet may be better than a low-fat diet for losing weight and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. A low-carb diet is beneficial for lowering triglycerides, the main fat-carrying particle in the bloodstream. It also can boost protective HDL cholesterol. The studies are unclear whether a low-carb diet has any effect on LDL cholesterol.

The studies further show that when two different groups of people were placed on either a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet, the low-carb group lost significantly more body weight after the first year than the low-fat group. And most of that weight was body fat.

What does this mean for you?

If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to consider a low-carb diet as an option, especially if you are trying to address certain cardiovascular issues. However, the key to any successful diet is balance. A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Important questions to ask yourself are the following: Are you consuming plenty of fruits and veggies? Are you getting enough protein? Are you getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function optimally? Whether you choose a low-fat or a low-carb diet for your health goals, always monitor your nutrients to ensure that your body is getting what it really needs.

A qualified health care professional can assist you in choosing the best foods for achieving your health goals as well as recommend advanced testing that can help you uncover any deficiencies or imbalances.

Be proactive so you can enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

Newsletter