What should we be recommending, high or low carb diets for fat loss? 

Share this article to social media:

If we are to say that there has been one main conversation in nutrition over the last 50 years it’s probably this – which is the bad one, carbohydrate or fat? Of course, the question has never really been framed like that; rather there was a period of time where carbohydrates were considered ‘fattening’, then there was the low-fat period involving fat-free everything and super high carbohydrate diets, and then the pendulum swung back to carbohydrates again. 

Looking at either of these positions individually leads us down a rabbit hole that can and does take up entire books, but zooming out to look at the whole process over time you arrive at the question I asked above, namely “which is the bad one?”. When framed like this you can see that there is an underlying assumption built into the question: one of them must be bad. This, however, is not the case. There is no evidence that fat intake nor carbohydrate intake per se leads to weight gain, heart problems or diabetes – these things need to be combined with other factors, no least of all overeating calories, before a problem is even partially evident. 

It would be fantastic if it were so simple as to say one or the other is the cause of all issues; if you have a problem you need to find the solution and when that problem is caused by a metaphorical bad guy that you can get rid of, that means you have a very simple path to go down: just get rid of it.  

Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury. The true cause of ill health and obesity cannot be encased in a food, a food group or a macronutrient, rather it lies in a complex web of different factors including individual food choices, other lifestyle choices (such as exercise), genetics and other factors like stress levels and even how well you sleep.

Why do all of these things matter? There are a lot of reasons, but when we look at obesity and ill health from the perspective of nutrition we see that food choice, lifestyle choices, genetics and all of the other factors play in to two very distinct things: 

1 – Energy balance

2 – Nutrient sufficiency

Energy balance – calories in compared to calories burned at rest, plus calories burned while exercising, plus calories burned while fidgeting, plus calories burned during the digestion of food is THE ONLY thing that governs whether or not you gain or lose weight. Sure, if we want to be particular about it we can also include water in that equation, but you get my point. We need to eat in a manner that helps us to achieve a healthy weight, and that involves choosing foods that fill us up, foods that provide dependable energy and foods in appropriate portions. We then need to make sure we are somewhat active (that doesn’t necessarily mean formal exercise, and could be better looked at as minimising sitting/sedentary time during the day), and we also need to pay attention to our daily stress and sleep levels – both of these things can alter our hunger. To be clear, 70-80% of the difference that nutrition can make to your health is due to its impact upon your weight.

Then, nutrient sufficiency is achieved by eating a well-balanced diet containing protein, carbohydrate, fat and a wide array of colourful vegetables and fruits. Protein should be an important part of each meal (even if you’re not bothered about looking like Arnold!) but after that some people may prefer more carbohydrate, some more fat. So long as you are eating 80-90% whole, unprocessed foods in line with your calorie needs it doesn’t matter all that much for either health or body composition which way you go so long as you avoid the extremes. 

And as a final point on eating whole foods – that doesn’t mean you need to minimise or even THINK about sugar – sugar intake will go down as a side effect of consuming a whole foods diet, but it’s not the primary concern. If you worry about sugar you start worrying about fruit, sweet potatoes and plain yoghurt, and that missed the point entirely. Forget sugar, think about the diet as a whole. Opt for unprocessed foods in a calorie-appropriate manner and you can’t go too far wrong.

So…should we recommend low fat or low carb? To be honest, I don’t think that’s even the right question. 

Want to learn more from me? We’ve got a short course that teaches the art & science of nutrition over on our website, go to btn.academy to download it now (look for the orange box).  

Ben Coomber is a Performance Nutritionist, Author & Speaker with the UKs #1 rated podcast ‘Ben Coomber Radio’. Ben teaches Personal Trainers to become nutrition coaches on The BTN Academy, and owns Awesome Supplements. Connect with Ben over on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram. For everything else visit: http://www.bencoomber.com 

Share this article to social media:
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com