closeup of roast chicken and oven potatoes

Low Carbs Or High Fat Diet?

When looking for a diet to help aid weight loss, we are met with thousands of diets. Some are tailor made to suit weight loss, or to help you build muscle and some do not really work at all. Whether you are looking to help shift the pounds or build muscle there has been quite a lot of debate on what works and what will keep you healthy throughout.

The LCHF (Low Carbs High Fat) diet is extremely well known within the health industry and has been proven to help aid in weight loss. It is a very simple diet that limits the amount of carbs that you consume and increases the amount of healthy fats within your diet. Where is the protein? Well, the amount of protein you eat should roughly stay the same. If you feel that you do not get enough protein on a daily basis, this can damage a lot of systems within the body including cell regrowth and renewal, muscle loss and most importantly you will constantly have a low energy level, so make sure you eat normal amounts of protein, which equates to roughly 48g per sedentary female and 58g per sedentary male.

Low Carb Diet

The key to having a low carb diet is to try and reduce your blood sugar levels and to keep them stable, at a low level. Throughout the day, some may start to get sugar cravings and this is down to an unstable blood sugar level that peaks and troughs on a regular basis. The lower your blood sugar level, the less insulin is produced and therefore the less fat will be stored within the body. Once you are on a low carb diet, your body then begins to start using fat to fuel itself and if you are overweight, you will begin to lose your excess weight.

A very common myth is that eating carbs will keep you full, where in some cases this is correct, in others, leading a low carb life can in fact make you feel fuller, quicker and can limit your calorie intake by itself. When eating a low carb diet, there is no need to control portion size as your body adjusts accordingly.

What are the benefits of a low carb diet?

If you are overweight, and you follow a strict low carb diet, then the chances are that you will lose weight. Along with weight loss, there are a number of other health benefits that some experience when going onto this kind of diet for example; individuals who suffer with type 2 diabetes have been able to stabilise their blood sugar levels, meaning that some do not require medication. People who suffer with severe allergies have seen a remarkable difference when changing their diet to a low carb diet. In addition, if you are suffering with digestive issues, a low carb diet has been known to help and reduce these issues. Reduction of mood swings and skin conditions have also been found when adjusting their diet to a low carb diet.

Should I go low carbs or no carbs at all?

Well, we are all different and what works for some, may not work for others. The key is to start slow; this way your body does not get shocked into having a low blood sugar and you can avoid experiencing those all-too-familiar sugar cravings. Your goal is to limit your carb intake to less than 50g a day. Your body will then get into a state of Ketosis and begin to supply energy to the brain in the form of ketone bodies. This will eventually kill your appetite and you will begin to lose weight quickly. Once you have lowered your daily intake to 50g a day and your body adjusts accordingly, then you can lower it even more to roughly 20g per day.  Your final goal is to get to roughly 20g of carbs per day with 70% healthy fats, 25% protein and only 5% carbs. This is for weight loss. If you are not looking to lose weight, you just want to see the health benefits of this diet, then do not eat more than 50g of carbs a day.

What are the downsides of having a low carb diet?

Well, to begin with for a normal, healthy and not overweight individual, the daily allowed guidelines for carbohydrate intake is around 110g per day, this for optimum brain function, so as you lower this amount, you may find it hard to concentrate, whilst your body adjusts. Another downside is that as your body goes into a state of Ketosis, you may see several side effects, which can include bad breath, light-headedness, achy muscles and you may even feel nauseated. However, as your body adjusts these symptoms should get better. One big reason why following a low carb diet may not be for you is that as soon as you have lost the weight and you are in good health, once you return to a normal carb diet, the weight and those health issues usually return.

High Fat Diet

One of the most common misconceptions is that fat makes you fat. For the past few decades the war against fat has been extremely prevalent within the health and fitness industry. In the 1950’s a scientist called Ancel Keys shook up the nutritional world by showing some extremely convincing research, which showed that saturated fat caused heart disease, and so the ‘low-fat’ dieting fad was created. However, what Keys neglected to tell the world, was that he threw away certain pieces of data, which did not support his theory and that in fact, the science and research did not support his idea at all. From this point onwards ‘low-fat’ foods were created where instead of using fats, food companies would replace these with sugar and other syrups. Not only do these food provide no substantial nutrients for the body, they also taste and feel like cardboard, which tricks your mind into thinking it is about to starve.

What are the benefits of a high fat diet?

Fat is by far the most important macronutrient and it the largest source of energy for your body. However, saying this does not mean that you can eat every kind of fat there is. There are, what one would call ‘bad fats’ which if overeaten, can lead to an increase of adipose tissue, which makes you fat. However, if you consume the right kind of fats, you will not increase your fat levels. In fact, the more healthy fats that you consume, the more equipped your body becomes at turning those fats into the essential energy that your body requires to function. Once your body becomes accustomed to burning fat as energy, it begins to function at an optimum level. Fat is also the foundation of the linings of our nerves, which allows the electrical impulses to work efficiently. When you add to that fat, you are literally able to think and act faster.

What are ‘good’ fats?

Good fats are unrefined animal fats, fats from fish and some fats from plants and tropical oils. They are usually high in saturated or monounsaturated fats and have high levels of omega-3.

What are ‘bad’ fats?

Bad fats are refined fats that include; soy, vegetable fats, safflower, sunflower and even canola oil. They are usually high in omega-6 and are extremely reactive and can be susceptible to oxidation, which means that they can be harmful to the body.

Remember that everyone is different and if one diet works for some, it may not work for others, so keep this in mind when choosing the diet that works for you.