What is the Most Effective Diet For Weight Loss?
Weight Loss seems to be the goal that almost everyone tries to achieve at some point in their lives, whether this is following a bulking period, a over indulgent holiday or just generally to benefit health and well being. When it comes to exercise some people can take the term “its all about the diet” far to literally. Trying to lose weight through diet alone is actually one of the most least effective methods for losing weight with 95% of people piling on the pounds they initially lose within 5 years.There are so many different methods to losing weight – but which is the most effective? Is it hammering the gym 7 days a week and working your ass off, or is it measuring every ounce of food, cutting out carbs and making sure you don’t go over you’re macros. This article should help to explain some different methods of weight loss and what method is most effective.
1. Low Carb
Beware of the carbs!! The popularity of low carb diets has rocketed through the roof this year with a large number of people saying no to common carbohydrates like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice- especially within the bodybuilding community. But is this the best diet for weight loss?
Low carbohydrate diets are diets that restrict carbohydrate consumption to a minimum in an attempt to provoke a biochemical process called “ketosis”. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of glycogen fuel, however, during low carbohydrate diets the body’s glycogen stores quickly become used up. As a result Ketosis often occurs, whereby the body is forced to breakdown protein and fat as its main source of energy. But How can low carb diets make you lose weight?
In simple terms the low carb diet is based on blood sugar levels. When we consume carbohydrates our blood sugars see an increase as carbohydrates are metabolised to generate energy. In general the body likes to keep its blood sugar levels steady- so when we consume carbohydrates the body reacts through a series of natural metabolic reactions to lower blood sugar back down to normal. To do this the body releases a hormone called insulin. When insulin is produced, any excess glucose that has not been used for energy is stored in the liver and if left unused eventually this sugar can be converted to fat. Insulin and blood sugar sensitivity varies between individuals but generally- the more sugar we consume (and don’t use through increased physical activity) the more fat we will gain.
Low carb diets tend minimize carbohydrates to around 20g a day… which is tiny when compared to the population average recommendation of 230g. For those with poor nutritional knowledge cutting out carbs might mean refusing to eat bread and pasta… but following a low carb diet also means cutting out food groups such as fruits and dairy products.
Low Carb Diet Advantages
– Can result in weight loss.
– Weight loss is more likely to be due to a loss of fat, rather than muscle
– Can help lower the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance.
– Can improve insulin sensitivity
If you’re looking to lose weight following a low carb diet could be an option, whereby a study in the New England Journal of medicine concluded in 132 obese participants that a low carb diet could provoke a greater weight loss after 6 months than that of a low Calorie, low fat diet.
Low Carb Diet Disadvantages
– Can lead to a lack of energy, fatigue and injury.
– Can increase fat intake and increase the risk of chronic diseases and cholesterol.
– Can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
– Can affect hormone regulation.
However in many people, cutting out carbs can become dangerous- for example, those not consuming fruits and vegetables can become vitamin and mineral deficient and if you’re not a great meat lover there is a risk of not consuming enough food in general. What’s more- carbohydrates in the diet are often replaced with meat- whereby a large intake of red meat has been shown to increase cholesterol, saturated fat intake, blood pressure and even the risk of certain cancers. Consuming a lower amount of carbohydrates means one thing- consuming more protein and fat for energy. If you’re thinking about losing weight on a low carb diet- make sure you set up a good nutritional plan where you are consuming enough calories to maintain daily activity! It is also worthwhile purchasing a good multi vitamin to ensure you are still receiving essential vitamins for health.
2. Low Fat Diets
Fat is the most nutrient dense macronutrient providing 9kcals per g of fat. It is for this reason that low fat diets are also known as low calorie diets- but is this the best route to go down? Low calorie and low fat diets can result in weight loss due to a calorie deficiency in the body, however this weight loss is not maintainable and can often be dangerous.In order to function on general and for normal bodily process to occur we must consume enough calories to meet our basal metabolic rate.
The basal metabolic rate is the energy required with no physical activity just to be alive! Often enough, following low calorie diets results in many individuals lowering their calroie intake below the basal metabolic rate- a big health no go!
Low Fat Diet Advantages
– Fast Weight Loss
– In some cases means an increase in the consumption of healthy low calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables.
– Carbohydrates are good sources of energy.
Low Fat Diet Disadvantages
– Fast weight loss is dangerous.
– Negatively affects hormone levels and regulation.
– Not maintainable.
– Can lead to tiredness and fatigue.
– Can increase blood sugar and insulin resistance- increasing the risk of CVD.
– Slows down the metabolism and results in the loss of muscle as well as fat.
Low fat diets are often very high in carbohydrates and sugars which can affect the body negatively when followed over long periods of time, increasing the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. What’s more, when weight loss does occur- this weight is a mixture of both fat and muscle! Losing muscle and restricting calorie intake causes the body to react by slowing down our metabolism to conserve energy, this means when converting back to a normal diet or increasing calories, the body will store as much energy as possible- resulting in fast weight gain.Not only this, but in a study by Garg et al in the journal of American Diabetes association, it was also concluded that high carbohydrate diets not only increase blood sugar and insulin levels but also acted to increase harmful cholesterol levels.
Consuming healthy fats such as mono and poly unsaturated fats is incredibly important for health, whereby these fats can help contribute to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease whilst also actually aiding weight loss. Although this is not by any means the right decision, if your plan is to follow a low fat diet- make sure you are still getting a good intake of fatty acids and fish oils.
A Take Home Message: A Balanced Diet
So which diet is best? Low carb or low fat? The answer is…
The key top losing weight is achieving a LONG term BALANCED diet.
Low fat and low calorie diets have one thing in common- they are both not maintainable! Following diets with such high restrictions over prolonged periods of time can have major health consequences and is not recommended. Fat, carbohydrates and protein are macronutrients, whereby being a nutrient means they are essential for living and normal functioning! If you’re goal is to lose weight- yes you need to have a calorie deficit however you also need to consume enough calories to function and an adequate amount of each macronutrient.
Whatever diet you choose to follow, make sure you get micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals and enough calories to fuel your daily activity and meet your Basal metabolic rate. This means consuming lean sources of protein, good sources of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats (e.g. nuts and salmon) and plenty of fruits and vegetables!