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Low Carbohydrate Versus Low Fat Diets

1205 words - 5 pages

The purpose of this essay is to compare Low carb and Low Fat diets and examine their similarities and differences. Two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine provide evidence that in the short term, a low-carbohydrate diet helped people lose weight without any adverse effects. In the last decade, several leading nutritional scientists have taken the side effects into consideration. They have begun to think that the low carb diet may be partly right about losing weight, and scientists are now finally studying whether low-fat diets really work. However, many people still question the low-carbohydrate diet's long-term effectiveness and choose to stick to the traditional low fat diet.

In the short term, a low carbohydrate diet may be more effective, and in some ways healthier, than traditional low-fat diets. A low-carb diet allows unlimited protein and fats, including meats, cheeses, eggs and butter to be eaten along with very limited quantities of carbohydrates (i.e fruits and vegetables). It has been determined that people following a low carb diet lose more weight than people on a low-fat diet, even if they consume up to three hundred extra calories per day. Plus, low carb diets have been found to be easier to stick to, with less an appetite and less cheating. With these diets, people eat satisfying amounts of food and are even encouraged to snack. On a more scientific approach, the low carb diet is found to be healthier in the sense that the consumption of refined carbohydrates increases blood sugar. The body responds to this by producing insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that keeps blood sugar (glucose) under control. Insulin slows down the process of lipolysis, in which fat is prevented from being mobilized for energy. If your insulin level is high, you don't use stored fat. And therefore, the fat does not get burnt off and there is no weight lost.

On the other hand, in the long term, most nutritional experts are wary of the low carbohydrate diet’s recommendations because of the dramatic, and possibly hazardous, changes the diet can have on the body. Among the many concerns are possible vitamin deficiencies, dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, and kidney, heart and gallbladder disease.

Some short term benefits from a low-fat diet have been documented, but similarly to the low carb diet, none have held up long term. In the short term people lower their cholesterol by eating less fatty foods. It was subsequently shown that saturated fats, as well as dietary cholesterol, elevate plasma total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by down-regulating the LDL receptors in the liver. There is little doubt that Americans have improved their health by lowering their dietary intake of fat. Low-fat diets are often advocated for weight reduction and to lower the risk of coronary heart disease and certain forms of cancer. However in the short term,...

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