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Low Carb vs. Low Fat for Weight Loss

Low fat vs. low carb, picture of dairy products and bread

A lot of people are on the Low Carb bandwagon these days, but “Team Low Fat” has plenty of successful dieters on its roster.

Is there a reason going low carb has become popular? Is it better, or just a fad?

I’ll give you the short answer and the long one.

The Short Answer

A few years ago a meta-analysis (a study of multiple studies) was done comparing weight loss with low carb/high fat diets vs. high carb/low fat diets.

What they found… you can lose weight just fine with either approach. (Here’s the study.)

The main factor was simply adherence — if you can stick to either type of diet, you’ll get results. (This has been shown to be true of pretty much any diet.)

Now that you know this, the real question is what should you do with this information?

I’ll get to that, but first we need to go a little more in depth.

The Long Answer

If you’ve tried and failed with dieting as many times as I have, I’m sure it’s frustrating to hear me say “any diet works.”

Which is why I’m about to throw a wrench in this whole thing.

Another study found that some people lost more weight on a low carb/high fat diet, while others were more successful with the opposite approach (based on something called insulin sensitivity — here’s that study).

Before you throw your hands in the air and start eating cupcakes like you don’t care, let me explain something.

While it’s true that adhering to a diet (any diet) is the ultimate answer, there are plenty of reasons a respectable diet might not give you the results you want (here are 5 specific reasons). It all boils down to this:

There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

In the first study I referenced, they were after a general perspective of the best weight loss diet. They concluded adherence was most important.

The second study was looking at specific individual differences. And even though certain diets worked better for certain people, everyone still lost weight, regardless of the diet.

In other words, don’t sweat the details.

When picking a diet, don't worry about the exact number of grams of carbs you'll consume each day. Instead, base your decision on whether a diet will be easy for you to stick with for more than a few days.

Sure, there are certain things that may lead to slightly faster results for certain people. But if you're doing this on your own, getting bogged down in those details makes it just as likely that you'll end up with slower results.

Leave it to a nutrition coach (such as myself) to sort through those details and help you find the individual approach that works best for you. I know the signs of what to look for, and the changes to make based on those signs.

What This All Means For You

The results of these studies are exactly why you won’t find me preaching a specific diet.

You won’t find me preaching low-carb or low-fat at all.

Weight loss isn’t about restrictions. You shouldn’t have to white knuckle your way through a diet.

Even with individual differences, going to extremes is unnecessary.

You might lose weight by making just one big change, but you won’t keep it off. To do that, you need to make multiple small changes...

Replace some of the highly processed carbs you eat (everything from frozen dinners to breakfast cereal to cookies and candy) with more whole food carbs (everything from rice and potatoes to homemade bread to fruit and yogurt).

Replace some of the common saturated fats you eat (everything from butter and margarine to cheese to salad dressings) with healthier fats (everything from avocado to nuts and seeds to pressed oils).

Making little changes like this make a bigger difference than worrying about whether your diet should be low-carb or low-fat.

Unfortunately, most diet information aimed at the general public (you) is based on the advanced strategies the pros use. Because it’s their job and they have time for that crap.

If you’re on a diet like that, with a little patience, guaranteed it’ll work. But if/when you realize you can’t stick with it, it’s time for something different.

What you need is a diet that doesn’t feel like a diet at all.

That’s what I help my clients build, and it’s the foundation of the approach in my ebook, “Forever Fat Loss: 12 Habits For Lasting Change.”

To adopt this unique way of thinking, sign up for our email newsletter and we’ll send the book so you can get started.


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