Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb: A New Study Looks Into the Best Diet Formula

Which is best? The answer may not be that simple.

healthy dinner carbs
Image from Unsplash user @framemily

For years, we’ve debated the pros and cons of diet formulas. We’ve seen the rise and fall of low-fat and low-carb diets over the last few decades, but when it comes to longevity, they’ve been two of the most popular dieting strategies for people throughout the country, and the world. But now, a new study from Stanford University School of Medicine has observed the two against one another to find which one is truly the ideal prescription for weight loss. And the answer to the best diet question may surprise you.
Some of the most popular food trends of 2018 have included the keto diet, which has users eliminating carbs from their eating plans and relying heavily on healthy proteins and vegetables. Low-carb diet, for the win.
But a low-fat diet, on the other hand, has been lauded for its health benefits (a reduced risk of breast cancer, being the latest), so rest assured that the nutrition tips that have dieters cutting out, or cutting back on, fats, aren’t going away anytime soon.
So how do you really find the right one that works for you? If your daily dieting plans are all about wellness, then the latest study is here to shine some light on the benefits and drawbacks of these popular diets.

healthy breakfast
Image from Unplash user @brookelark

Over the course of 12 months, researchers tracked the eating habits of 609 overweight adults and when it came to weight loss, there was no significant difference whether the participants went low-fat or low-carb. Both groups of study participants made the change toward eating healthier foods (within their dietary restrictions, of course), and stressed that this was a lifestyle change, not just a quick diet swap.
At the conclusion of the study, people who took on the low-fat diet lost an average of 11.68 pounds, while those who chose to eat low-carb lost 13.22 pounds.
Since the difference between the two wasn’t overwhelmingly large, researchers concluded that there was not a significant difference in the effect of the diet, but more-so that making healthy eating decisions led to a natural and sustained weight loss.
“We’ve all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet — it worked great — and then another friend tried the same diet, and it didn’t work at all,” said Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine and the lead author of the study. “It’s because we’re all very different, and we’re just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what’s the best diet, but what’s the best diet for whom?”
Since BMI, body-fat percentage, as well as blood pressure and blood glucose levels improved for all participants, regardless of their diet, it’s even further proof that the real best diet isn’t the same for everyone, but is rather individual based on your own genetic makeup and lifestyle.

“We made sure to tell everybody, regardless of which diet they were on, to go to the farmer’s market, and don’t buy processed convenience food crap. Also, we advised them to diet in a way that didn’t make them feel hungry or deprived — otherwise it’s hard to maintain the diet in the long run,” Gardner continues. “We wanted them to choose a low-fat or low-carb diet plan that they could potentially follow forever, rather than a diet that they’d drop when the study ended.”
And it’s this mentality shift, Gardner says, that is really responsible for the successful weight loss.
“On both sides, we heard from people who had lost the most weight that we had helped them change their relationship to food, and that now they were more thoughtful about how they ate,” he adds.
So the next time you’re finding yourself trying to decide whether or not to join up the latest diet with your friends, consider that all are not created equal for every single participant. Find what works for you, give it time to take effect, and weight loss is bound to follow.

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