This article originally appeared on Clean Eating
Whether it’s the keto diet, the Atkins approach, or any other popular way of cutting carbs, low-carb is currently one of the most popular ways to eat. At its peak popularity, 18 percent of Americans were going low-carb. However, there are also plenty of people who keep the carbs and cut the fat, following a low-fat eating approach. Since the 1960s, low-fat diets have had a strong hold on plenty of individuals.
So, which is the best, or healthier, choice: low-carb or low-fat?
At First Glance, Low-Fat and Low-Carb Diets Have Similar Effects
When it comes to the great low-fat vs. low-carb debate, weight loss is one of the most-touted benefits. So, it’s no surprise that scientists set out to determine if either eating approach is better than the other when it comes to losing weight and maintaining that weight loss.
A 2010 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine tested the impact of following either a low-fat or low-carb diet over two years, combined with behavioral counseling. A total of 307 overweight participants were divided into two groups: one that followed the Atkins diet (only 20 grams of carbs per day), and one that followed a standard low-fat diet (30 percent or less of their total calories per day coming from fat).
The results were somewhat surprising. As Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, explains, “After 12 months, both groups lost approximately the same amount of weight (11 kilograms, or roughly 24 pounds). Both groups regained some weight during the second year, with no significant difference between the two groups. The average weight loss after two years was seven kilograms (about 15.5 pounds). As with most diet studies, some folks regain part of the weight they lose not because the diets don’t work but because people start drifting back to their old habits.”
These findings seem to suggest that there’s really no difference between low-fat and low-carb diets, at least when the goal is weight loss. But, Bowden notes, it’s not exactly that simple: “Though the media reported “no difference” between the two diets, several pieces of crucial information were left out.”