What Did They Find
The reviewers found that among adults with excess body weight , those following lower-carb diets for 3-8.5 months lost, on average, one kilogram more weight than those on balanced carb diets.
However, when they ensured restrictions in energy intake were the same in both groups, by providing the food or meal plans, the difference was about half a kilogram.
In longer-term weight-loss interventions lasting one to two years, the average difference in weight-loss between those on low-carb versus balanced carb diets was just under one kilogram.
The average weight lost by groups on any weight-reducing diet varied greatly across the trials from less than one kilogram in some, up to about 13kg in others.
The studies in adults with type 2 diabetes found greater initial weight loss on low-carb diets compared to balanced carb diets: 1.3kg over three to six months. However, in longer interventions that lasted between one to two years, there was no difference.
In the small group of studies that included a maintenance period at the end of the weight-loss intervention, there were no differences in weight-loss in adults either with or without type 2 diabetes.
There were no significant differences in other health measures, including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar control or risk of constipation. And they found no important clinical differences in results based on the extent of participants carb restriction.
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Keto Diet Vs Low Carb: What’s The Difference
They might seem like similar approaches, there are some key differences between the keto diet vs low carb. We asked the experts to unpack them
Keto diet vs low carb: whats the difference and which is better? Although the two diets both involve cutting carbs and can help with weight loss, the keto diet is a far more restrictive way of eating and involves limiting carb intake and eating a high amount of fat, with moderate protein.
Keto means the body has switched into ketosis and is using fat instead of glucose for fuel, says diet expert Heidi Normanton, founder of Heylo . Meanwhile low carb diets limit the amount of carbohydrates consumed, especially simple and refined ones found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. Going low carb helps regulate blood sugar but it doesnt produce ketosis, so the body will first use the glucose stored as energy, then move onto fat for fuel.
Its important to have an understanding of your body and the calories and nutrients required for it to function effectively before starting a new diet, adds elite coach Farren Morgan, who runs The Tactical Athlete . He advises speaking to a dietician or a health professional first.
In this article we look at the key differences between the keto diet vs low carb, so you can decide if either plan is right for you.
Oh No The Article Is Going To Say Neither Is Good
Well, not quite.
Ultimately no approach with weight loss is going to suit everyone, but either approach can work well with professional advice that shows you how to make them balanced and healthy and how to maintain it.
But, if after reading this, neither of these options tickle your fancy, there are other ways!
In my opinion, the biggest gap with both diets is that they dont include equal parts WHAT to eat as well as HOW TO STICK TO IT.
To fill those gaps, two other options may appeal to you.
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Habits Based Interventions For Weight Loss
Their benefits over other weight loss approaches is that they provide skills, not just information.
These skills allow you to reduce or eliminate eating patterns and behaviours that not only help you lose weight but also provide a longer term eating approach that is more flexbile. They also create behavioural flexbility meaning they teach you how to avoid the on and off again mentality of a diet. They are aimed at changing your mindset towards food as well as your eating behaviours so there is a two-fold, more lasting effect.
Approaches include a variety of behaviours including routinising mealtimes, cultivating mindful and conscious eating practices, pre-planning meals and learning to deal with trigger foods.
These techniques instill long term mindset shifts, in how people view, approach and respond to food-based stimuli, allowing you to be more calm and conscious when making the food choices you want to make and avoiding the on and off again mentality that can trip you up with other weight loss approaches.
I am a huge fan of using these kinds of approaches due to the focus on health, effective and long term weight management and overall positive relationships with food.
Know The Carb Counts And Serving Sizes Of Foods
Most low carb diets only allow for 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Because of this, it is essential that people following low-carb diets choose foods that have a lower carb count but a high nutritional value per serving.
The foods in the quantities listed below all contain approximately 15 g of carbs:
- 1 tennis ball sized apple or orange
- 1 cup of berries
- 1 slice of bread
- 1/3 cup of cooked rice
While the foods listed above all contain roughly equal amounts of carbohydrates, they are not all nutritionally equivalent. The dairy products on the list contain protein and vital nutrients, such as Vitamin D and calcium in addition to the carbohydrate content.
The fruit and vegetables also contain essential vitamins and minerals. Choosing whole-grain varieties of bread and rice will provide more nutrients than white varieties, even though the carb content is similar.
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Is Calorie Counting Effective For Short And Long Term For Weight Loss
In contrast to simply eating less carbs , calorie counting works by keeping track of your overall energy intake.
In other words, you dont need to worry about how many carbs, fats or proteins you eat, you just have to worry about how much energy you eat across your day and week. You work out how many calories you generally expend in your day, take about 500 calories off it and track your food so that you dont eat more than that.
Popular with the fitness industry, calorie counting can also be effective for weight loss – if you stick to it.
Its just as simple as carb counting in its conceptualisation, but for some it tends to be tedious when youre first starting out .
There are a number of other pitfalls too. Firstly, tracking calories isnt always super accurate, as energy balance is influenced by a number of different factors. Unlike low carb diets, calorie counting doesnt dictate WHAT you eat, as long as you dont eat less than your daily calorie expenditureand therein lies the problem.
First, calorie counting doesnt equal health.
As long as you only eat your allocated number of calories, you can eat whatever you want and technically fulfil the criteria for weight loss. A key example of this is in the consumption of fat.
Already a big no from us there.
So which should you choose? Are you beginning to get the idea that were not a huge fan of either?
You Can Even Eat More Calories And Still Lose Weight
The second study concerns weight loss in obese teenagers. A group of adolescents, average age 14, were assigned to either a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet.
The low-carb group was instructed to keep carbohydrates at less than 20 g a day for the first 2 weeks, but increasing to 40 g a day in weeks 3 through 12. They could eat as much as they wanted.
The low-fat group was instructed to keep fat at < 40 g a day. They also could eat as much as they wanted.
Here are the results.
The low-carb teenagers averaged 9.9 kg of weight loss, compared to 4.9 kg in the low-fat group. That was despite the fact that the low-carb group ate over 1800 calories a day, while the low-fat group ate 1100 calories a day. Thats the power of lowering carbohydrate intake. Also, its guaranteed that the low-carb group was less hungry.
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Calorie Counting Or Carb Counting: Which Works Best
The truth of the matter is, that there are different weight loss interventions that work for different people. Some people like the rigidity of calorie counting or they feel better when they lower their carb intake, but if they dont work for you or they really trigger you by making you feel like youre on a mental rollercoaster, there are other ways to do it.
If you know you need to lose weight , then consider whether its time to look at your relationship with food first and foremost. Its not sexy and its not going to get you the beach body by Christmas if you start doing it in October. But being able to make healthy, conscious and consistent food choices is what gets you there in the end without the fear of it coming back on.
Hey! Im Zoe Morosini, an Australian based nutritionist on a mission to show every woman that wants to be a healthy weight that she doesnt have to lose her mind trying.
Nutrients To Monitor On A Low
Carbohydrate is a macronutrient. Your body uses it to produce energy to fuel your muscles, brain, lungs and other vital processes.
Healthy foods with carbs breads, cereals and other grains, fruit, vegetables and milk are packed with other important nutrients, especially dietary fibre, thiamine, calcium and folate.
Without careful planning, a low-carb diet could also be lower in these nutrients. So how can you ensure youre consuming enough? Heres what to look out for and some lower- and higher-carb options.
Dietary fibre is needed to keep your bowel function regular and promote growth of healthy bacteria in your colon.
Lower carb sources: spinach, fresh and frozen mixed berries, almonds, cauliflower
Higher carb sources: wholegrain bread, apples, chick peas, sweet potato.
Thiamin or vitamin B1 is needed to supply energy to your bodys tissues and is used to metabolise carbohydrates.
Lower carb sources: trout, tuna, sunflower seeds, beef, yeast extracts
Higher carb sources: brown rice, black beans, wholemeal bread, yoghurt.
Calcium is needed for strong bones.
Lower cab sources: hard cheese, canned salmon with small bones, almonds, firm tofu
Higher carb sources: yoghurt, milk, soft cheese.
Folate is essential for growth and is used to manufacture DNA, your genetic code. Adequate intakes are especially important for women, as folate is needed to prevent neural tube defects in infants during pregnancy.
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What Is The Low Carb Diet
Like keto, low carb diets follow the same principle of cutting carbs and replacing them with protein, healthy fats and vegetables. Carbohydrates are easier to digest, but dont provide the same essential nutrients that proteins and fats do for the growth and development of your physique, explains Morgan.
Time Restricted Eating For Weight Loss
For those who like simplicity , there is some promising research on time restricted eating, otherwise known as intermittent fasting .
There are many versions of time restricted eating including the popular 5:2 diet, the 16:8 eating window and circadian eating.
There is a growing body of research showing both weight loss and other health benefits to fasting regimes with early time restricted feeding recently doing well for both weight loss and improving blood sugar, blood pressure and inflammation.
Theyre simple just eating to appetite and eating for health . Of course, its important to note that fasting works for weight loss primarily because youre eating less calories than you burn in a day, so it still adheres to the eat less, move more paradigm.
Fasting is definitely not for everyone , but it can take some of the guess work out of weight loss.
Its still a good idea to get advice around WHAT to eat in your eating window and its not recommended for anyone with a history of disordered eating.
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Final Thoughts: The Debate Between Low Calorie Versus Low Carb Share The Need For Portion Control
Nutritional experts encourage everyone to learn how to portion their meals and snacks correctly. In the last two decades, food portions in America have increased so subtly that you probably havent noticed. While controlling your portions is necessary for a low-calorie diet, it isnt always easy to judge a smaller portion sizes calorie content by looking at the nutritional label.
When considering the low calorie vs. low carb debate, portion control is even more critical for counting carbs because you wont always have a nutritional label. However, its not difficult to memorize portions of your favorite foods to make healthy meal options. Some whole foods, like most salad greens, have negligible amounts of carbohydrates, so you dont have to count them.
If you want to lose weight and get healthier, you have several dieting options available. When you consider low calorie vs. low carb diets, be aware of the pros and cons of each option and realize they both require some easy calculations and portion control. Before starting any diet or exercise regimen, consult your primary healthcare provider or a registered dietician.
Calorie Counting By The Numbers
In a Nutshell: When you count calories, you keep tabs on the calories in everything you eat and drink. This approach helps you lose weight as long as you take in fewer calories than you burn.
How It Works: In order to know how many calories you should be consuming, the first step is to calculate how much you need to maintain your current weight â also known as your daily maintenance calories. According to Harvard Health Publishing, you can do this by multiplying your weight times 15. So for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would likely need to consume about 2,250 calories each day to maintain that weight.
If you want to lose weight, you can then subtract 500 to 1,000 daily calories. Keep in mind that a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so shaving off 500 each day should help you lose 1 pound per week, according to the Mayo Clinic. By the same token, eating 1,000 less calories per day would help you lose about 2 pounds per week, presuming your level of physical activity remains unchanged.
So, someone who needs 2,250 maintenance calories might subtract 500 to get 1,750, which would be his or her daily calorie goal to lose weight gradually and safely.
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Advantages: One advantage of calorie counting over more structured diets is that calorie information is readily available and easy to track â especially now that many restaurants include calorie information on their menus or websites.
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Is Keto Really Better For Weight Loss A New Study Takes A Closer Look At The Diet
Theres a lot of competition for the most contentious issue in weight loss, but Id have to give the nod to ketogenic diets. Now a study about them sheds some interesting new light although Im not holding out hope for kumbaya.
First though, a brief overview of the theory of ketogenic diets. When you eat carbohydrates, your body processes them with insulin, which shuttles blood glucose into fat stores, leaving you hungry. If you dont eat many carbs, your body starts running on ketones, which your liver manufactures from fat less hunger, less fat accumulation. Or thats the theory, at any rate.
Its important to keep in mind that nothing, including keto diets, can defeat the calorie balance equation: To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you absorb. But there are two mechanisms by which a keto diet might help you do that: It could leave you satiated on fewer calories, so you take in less, and it could increase the rate at which your body burns energy, so you expend more.
Does keto actually do those things?
Lets take appetite first, which brings us back to that interesting new study. Its by the National Institutes of Healths Kevin Hall, the same scientist who found that people eating ultra-processed food ate 500 calories more per day than people eating a diet of whole-ish foods. This time, he compared a keto diet to a low-fat, high-carb plant-based diet.
Calories Count But They Are Not The Whole Story
Generally speaking, if you take in more calories than your body needs, the extra calories will be stored as fat. Similarly, if you take in fewer calories than needed, your body will release its fat stores, and you will lose weight.
Because of this, some contend that calories are all that matter.5 All you have to do to lose weight is reduce calories.
It sounds simple, but humans are more complicated than that.
Theres far more to weight regulation than just monitoring calories in vs. calories out.6 Indeed, most members of the human race appear to have regulated their weight effectively for millennia, before anyone even knew what a calorie was.7
The modern obesity epidemic seems to be an unprecedented phenomenon, and it coincides with an ever-increasing focus on counting calories.8 At best, counting calories seems to be an imperfect strategy for weight control.
So whats really going on? As it turns out, hormonal regulation is a key factor and can affect our hunger and cravings.
Hormones play a large role in influencing appetite, fullness, and fat storage. Research suggests that low-carb and keto meals may trigger satiety hormones and suppress hunger hormones, leading to a natural reduction in calorie intake, especially in those who are overweight or have insulin resistance.9
The two sources of calories equal in number consumed at breakfast had differential effects on the number of calories consumed at lunch.
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