Diets and Nutrition

To lose weight: better a diet low in carbohydrates or a diet low in fat?

Good morning and welcome to September, the return vacation, those weeks that follow the summer and that are felt on the scale. It is the time in which we make purpose of take off the kilos we have taken during the holidays and, if possible any more.

And since we get to it, the best thing not to make an effort in vain is to rely on what science has proven to work. Of course, this is not always easy because there is still much to study and demonstrate in the field of nutrition

There is no unanimous answer. about whether low-fat or low-carbohydrate diets are better. But there are compelling reasons on which the defenders of each other are based. You don't know which one to decide on? Keep reading to understand what the arguments of each are. And choose being aware of the pros and cons of both.

What are fats?

We start with the most basic: fat They are one of the essential nutrient groups for our body to function normally. They give us Lots of energy, but also involved in basic processes for health, such as the absorption of some vitamins, called fat-soluble. They are essential to maintain healthy hair and skin, and also intervene in the regulation of the temperature of our body.

Of course, not all fats are the same: fats can be saturated or unsaturated, and the latter at the same time are divided into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

The arguments against him

Those who defend to lose a low fat diet basically use two arguments. The main one is that fats they give us a lot of calories, approximately 9 calories per gram, which is approximately double that of proteins or carbohydrates.

On the other hand, in the past, some fats, mainly hydrogenated fats (unsaturated fats industrially manipulated to make them saturated) and saturated fats, have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, stroke or heart attacks. Although new results today question that relationship (not for hydrogenated ones, but for all others), there are still those who prefer to recommend a moderate fat intake for this reason.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the basic fuel of our body. Upon entering our body they are processed to become glucose, which is then distributed to different tissues and the brain to act as a source of energy.

When we consume more hydrates than the body needs, these They are stored for future needs energy in the form of fat, and that makes us fat.

Arguments against carbohydrates

As with fats, there are also different types of hydrates, mainly divided into two categories: the complex and the simple. The complexes are found mainly in fruit, vegetables and whole grains, while the simple ones are in the added sugars and refined flours.

The latter are considered the main cause of overweight and obesity today, in addition to metabolic diseases such as diabetes, since they cause pronounced spikes in blood glucose levels, which our body has trouble managing when they occur very often and affect all our metabolism, unbalancing it.

So which is better: less fat or less hydrate?

For decades, fats have been considered the main nutrient to avoid by people who want to lose weight, but there are more and more studies that point to actually it is the hydrates that we should reduce to lose weight.

In a 2014 study, 148 obese adults were divided into two groups and asked to some that reduce saturated fat (meat, butter and whole milk) and other carbohydrates (white bread, sugary cereals and other processed foods). Neither group was forced to reduce a specific amount of calories, but both reduced between 500 and 700 calories a day.

After a year, lThose who had reduced carbohydrates had lost about 5.4 kilos on average, while those who had restricted fat had dropped only 1.8. In addition, the former had less cholesterol, less body fat and more muscle mass.

It's not the only one. Another 2017 study concluded that reducing carbohydrates could benefit more people than reducing fat. They analyzed 135,000 people from 18 countries, and observed that people who eat a lot of carbohydrates had a 30% higher risk of dying during the study that people who ate few carbohydrates; Meanwhile, people with a high-fat diet were 23% less likely to die within 7 years of the study than people with low-fat diets.

It seems therefore that a reduction in carbohydrates is a more effective way to try to lose weight, and that fats also have a protective health effect.

What is the best diet to slim down?

It is difficult to give a clear answer to the question, but everything suggests that there are more benefits in reducing simple hydrates than fats. Here are some general recommendations.

1. All nutrients are necessary

The first is that you should not completely dispense with any group of nutrients, carbohydrates or fats, because all are necessary for health. You can reduce or increase some amounts and focus on one type of nutrient or another, but none should disappear completely from your diet.

2. Fats are essential, focus on healthy ones

Fats are essential for our body to function normally and do not seem to be bad in the fight against overweight, so do not insist on eliminating them. Of course, it enhances the consumption of healthy fats, of plant origin (olive, sunflower, soy, nuts ...) and blue fish among others. Here are some ideas of foods rich in healthy fats.

3. Also choose the right type of hydrates

When it comes to eating cereals, it is much better to choose whole grains: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice ...l be included the grain Whole, in addition to slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, you will benefit from the other nutrients it contains, such as vitamins, healthy fatty acids and fiber. On the other hand, it limits as much as possible the consumption of foods with added sugars.

4. Do not go on a diet: change habits

The idea of ​​a diet is not very beneficial because They are usually rigid, restrictive and equal for everyone. But eating like this is not feasible in the long term and if we have not learned anything, we will return to the paths, recovering the lost weight and probably something else.

Instead, it is much more effective in the long term to re-educate our eating habits and incorporate more or less subtle but sustainable long-term changes.

Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: Low-carb diet findings and cautions (January 2020).