Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb: Who Wins?

Agitated young woman looking up in frustration


As the end of 2015 approaches and the nutrition world anxiously awaits publication of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s worth taking a moment to consider where the world of research falls with regard to fad diets.

In the post-low-fat world that followed the 1990’s fat free and low-fat diet craze, you don’t hear much about a low fat diet anymore. The American Heart Association has moved off of recommending a “low fat” diet for heart disease prevention, and praise is now routinely heaped on the Mediterranean Diet – a relatively “high fat” (but the right type of fat!) eating pattern.

A study published last week in PLOS ONE did take a look at low-fat vs. low-carb diets and found that low-carb diets appear to be slightly better at lowing cardiovascular disease risk.

The meta-analysis looked at 1,797 obese or overweight people who were enrolled in 17 different studies. The overall weight loss was 17.6 pounds in the low-carb group and 13.2 pounds in the low-fat group.

To be fair, both of the groups showed a significant reduction in their 10-year cardiovascular disease risk score, but the study was funded by Atkins Nutritionals – the retail arm of the low-carb Atkins Diet.

The take away message is: when it comes to losing weight and cutting heart disease risk – calories do count. Eliminating added sugars, reducing white carb foods and cutting out excess amounts of bad fat have been shown to be effective ways to trim your waistline and your heart disease risk profile.

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