Fat, Carbs, or Total Calories: What’s the Key to Losing Weight?

Much research has been conducted to look at the type of diet an individual follows and their associated weight loss. Many people declare that following a low-carb Atkins type diet is the way to lose weight, while others swear it’s by following a low-fat diet. You can get lost sifting your way through these diets to determine which is better and which will result in more weight loss. However, the research suggests that it’s more about the total amount of calories you take in rather than following a low-fat or a low-carb diet that shows weight reductions. Research shows that groups that follow a low-fat diet versus dieters on a low-carb diet ultimately end up losing the same amount of weight. One study showed a group following a low-carb diet had greater weight loss initially, but as the researchers followed-up, the total pounds lost was not maintained (weight regain had occurred). The same results were seen in studies examining a low-fat diet and weight loss. However, dieters who take a more healthy lifestyle approach (overhauling their diet and making healthier food choices) tend to lose weight at a healthy pace and have a much higher success rate of keeping off the weight.

I want to provide you with a simple solution, try incorporating the positives of the low-fat and low-carb diet. I personally believe in nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle rather then following a diet to lose weight. Once you view your diet as a key component to being healthy your thinking shifts from total weight lost towards your health (reducing cholesterol, reducing your risk of cancer and disease, etc.) and consequently eating healthy results in shedding some unwanted pounds.

whole grainsInstead of following a low-carb diet, focus on consuming more complex, whole-grain, whole-wheat carbohydrates. These complex, whole-wheat sources provide you with fiber and bran, both of which help promote satiety (being and feeling comfortably full) versus simple carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, etc.). Whole-grains, whole-wheat products have been shown to do great things for your health from lower your risk of colon cancer to helping better control your blood sugar.

Following a low-fat diet not only provides tremendous benefits for your heart and overall health, but also helps slim down your waist line. No matter the source of fat, fat provides you with 9 calories per gram versus only 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates. Simply put, if you eat less fat you’ll consume fewer calories without having to eat less food. Fewer Calories = Weight Loss.

Another important thing to remember is calories in and calories out: reduce the total amount of calories you take in and increase the amount of calories you burn during your exercise routine.

Although my approach may not be as fancy as following an exact diet or a rigidly structured meal plan, following a low-fat, whole-wheat diet, while incorporating exercise is essential to having a healthy lifestyle and help you drop a few pounds along the way.

2 Responses to Fat, Carbs, or Total Calories: What’s the Key to Losing Weight?

  1. Kinsey, I couldn’t agree with you more, that the energy balance equation is important: Calories in versus calories out, etc.

    I’ve read several studies on successful low-carb/Atkins dieting. The people that lose weight end up reducing their caloric intake compared to their pre-diet baseline levels, even thought they do not have to consciously count/restrict calories. I guess there’s just so much bacon, butter, and brie you can stomach. [I know, I know, that’s a gross over-simplification, but I like the alliteration. Thanks to Dr. Ornish.]

    Your blog entry headline today must be a reference to the diet comparison study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine It compared Atkins with Mediterranean and “low-fat” weight-loss diets. My analysis is at my healthy lifestyle blog:


  2. Danielle says:

    Ok, Basic 4 is HORRIBLE for you!! Why are you allowed to write a diet column?

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