The discovery that CARBS were actually what led to fat and weight gain instead of dietary fats totally rocked the world of nutrition and dieting. The low-fat diets that were so popular for decades have gone out of style, and more people are going on a low carb diet in order to drop those extra pounds. But is a low carb diet better than low fat, or vice versa? Below, we’ll take a look at both to see which is actually going to get the results you want.
Why Low Fat
Once, it was believed that dietary fat led to weight gain. Given how many calories there are in a single gram of fat (9 calories, compared to 4 calories per gram of carbs), it makes sense. Saturated fat was blamed for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and many more. Cutting back on fat was a way to reduce stored fat. Unfortunately, the human body processes fat much more slowly than carbs. Instead of a flood of energy, fat releases a slow, steady burn that takes many more hours to absorb and use. The fact that our bodies are accustomed to utilizing carbs so easily means that thy are more prone to causing energy spikes, crashes, and a subsequent increase in fat storage.
Why Low Carb
Carbs are the body’s primary source of energy, as they are quick-acting and easily absorbed into the body. Simple carbs (like sugar and white flour) provide a surge of energy that lasts for 20 to 30 minutes before the body responds by producing insulin to control blood sugar levels. Insulin causes your body to store those carbs as fat, meaning the excess blood sugar resulting from eating carbs will be turned into stored fat. On the other hand, the fats you eat are broken down and absorbed more slowly, so they release a steady stream of energy over the course of a few hours. Though it’s higher in calories, it’s far less likely to be turned into stored fat.
The Danger of Too Much Fat
If you eat a lot of fat, there is a chance that you will strain your liver. Fatty liver disease occurs when the liver absorbs too much fat. It’s usually the result of excessive alcohol consumption, but non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can also be a problem for those who eat A LOT of dietary fat. However, the real danger isn’t the fats naturally found in plant and animal products. The danger comes from the trans fats and hydrogenated oils in fried, fatty, and processed foods. These fats are most likely to cause internal damage (such as heart disease).
The Danger of Too Much Carbs
If you eat a lot of carbs, you run the risk of serious weight gain. Excessively high blood sugar can be the primary contributor to excess fat storage, not to mention insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders. Cutting back on carbs is the smart way to encourage your body to burn more fats—both the fats in your diet and the fats you have stored.
Which is Better?
The truth is that a low carb diet is the smarter choice. Not only does it force your body to burn more fats for energy, but it prevents the spike of blood glucose that results from high carb foods. You’ll find that cutting back on carbs is the fastest way to lose weight. You can eat more fats—especially the healthy fats found in plant-based foods and animal products—to encourage better fat-burning and weight loss.