Low-carb diets better than low-fat ones?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

low-carb food
High-fat diets may not be as bad as they seem.

Nowadays, fat is Public Enemy No. 1, and it’s understandable why. Top nutritionists often advise people to avoid high-fat foods, like meat and cheese, that can lead to heart disease. However, a new study found that high-fat, low-carb diets were actually linked with lower body weight and decreased risk for heart-related diseases!

First of all, what’s a normal diet supposed to consist of? Well, it basically needs to contain all of the nutrients our bodies require for proper functioning, of which there are six essential ones: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The first three nutrients don’t provide energy and are needed solely to carry out biological processes, whereas carbs, proteins, and fats are “macronutrients” that contain energy-giving calories.

Traditional weight loss programs often focus on lowering how many calories people eat, and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for America recommends that 45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein, and 25-35% from fats. These calculations are based on research conducted several decades ago, but the latest study suggests they could be wrong!

See, researchers took 150 men and women, and split them up into two groups: one was placed on a low-carb diet, where they had to consume less than 40 grams of carbs per day, while the other was placed on a low-fat diet, where they couldn’t get more than 30% of their calories from fat. By the end of the study, those in the low-carb group experienced a significant decrease in risk for heart disease, less fat mass, and more healthy changes to their cholesterol levels than the people on low-fat diets.

What does all of this mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that pigging out on snacks like cookies, chips, pizza, and ice cream is acceptable; in fact, the low-fat diet’s main sources of fat were from snacks like nuts, olive oil, and fish. With that said, the results from the study seem to give us all a refreshing perspective on fat that shows calories aren’t the real enemy.

Featured image courtesy of denkschema on Flickr. Image of pork and sausage dish courtesy of avlxyz on Flickr.