Comparing and Contrasting Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets
The low-carbohydrate diet and the low-fat diet take two different approaches to achieve the same goal of weight loss. The fundamental difference between the two diets is found in the comparison of their nutritional recommendations. Nutritional recommendations are the foundation of both diets, although their views on the role carbohydrates, proteins, and fats should play differs greatly. Dieters are told that following these nutritional recommendations will promote weight loss. The amount of weight loss achieved with either diet fluctuates over time and in the end, the results for the two diets are similar.
Low-carbohydrate diets recommend eating foods high in fat and protein while limiting carbohydrates in order to promote weight loss. Foods high in fat and protein are the main source of calories during the first phase of weight loss on the Atkins diet. It is recommended that fat make up about 60% of calories ingested and protein make up 35% of calories ingested. The Atkins diet does not restrict calorie intake and they recommend that you eat until you are full. Researchers believe that overeating is avoided due to the lasting satiety dieters receive from eating large amounts of protein. The Atkins diet allows 5% of calories to be from carbohydrates, ideally only from non-starchy vegetables. The logic behind the restriction of carbohydrates is that without them present in the blood, the body is more likely to utilize stored fat for energy. Unlike many other diets, restrictions are not placed on the kind of fat and protein to be consumed; dieters are able to choose for themselves whether to stick with lean meats and unsaturated fats or to choose fatty meats and saturated fats. While encouraging dieters to eat lots of fat and protein, low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet severely restrict the intake of carbohydrates for the purpose of losing weight.
Low-fat diets achieve weight loss by requiring dieters to eat lots of carbohydrate-rich foods while restricting fat and protein intake. Low-fat diets make a distinction between simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates; foods made up mostly of simple carbohydrates such as sweets and white bread are discouraged. Complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, make up 60% of the food required for weight loss on a low-fat diet. In contrast to the Atkins diet, the low-fat diet restricts fat intake to no more that 25% of total calories. The theory is that diets low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates help to promote weight loss by not contributing to existing fat stores and by encouraging the body to utilize those fat stores through calorie restrictions, based on the amount of calories you burn each day. To figure out ideal calorie consumption dieters can use a formula provided by the American Heart Association (AHA); this formula uses the dieter’s current weight to determine...