When life gets busy, health and fitness can quickly fall by the wayside. But it’s never too late to get back on track. Maybe you’ve tried other diet plans in the past but didn’t find much success. Maybe you’re tackling eating better and getting in shape for the first time, and you’re not sure where to start. After all, there’s so much info circulating about health and fitness trends. Plus, the idea of making a complete diet overhaul can be a little overwhelming.
Certain eating plans have gained popularity over the years. You’re probably familiar with the low-carb Atkins diet, which has gotten mixed reviews since it was created in the 1970s. Some people follow a low-carb and low-fat diet, too, among other variations. If you want to lose weight, you may be thinking about trying a low-fat diet, especially if you don’t like the idea of cutting carbs cold turkey.
With Noom you’ll never be asked to cut any food group. You choose the foods you love, we help you make better choices.
It can be challenging to find accurate information about low-carb diets and low-fat diets too. After all, the advent of the Internet has made it possible to publish without getting fact-checked first. The good news is, just as there is plenty of misinformation making the rounds, sources of credible data are more widely available than ever, too. Scientific studies and journals — available online — can help you learn more about health and fitness from trusted sources.
For guys looking to lose weight and get in shape, here’s a breakdown of low-carb diets vs. low-fat diets and exercise plans to work on alongside your healthy eating plan.
What Is a Low-Carb Diet?
As its name suggests, low-carb diets limit carbohydrates. These are found in starchy vegetables and fruit. These diets usually include high levels of proteins and fats. There are several low-carb diets out there, and they have varying levels of recommended carbs. Most people follow these diets to lose weight, but limiting carbohydrate consumption can also head off metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. Carbs can be simple or complex, and fall into one of four subtypes:
- Simple refined (table sugar falls into this category)
- Simple natural (fructose and lactose, which are found in fruit and milk, respectively)
- Complex refined (white flour)
- Complex natural (beans and whole grains)
If you want to include more naturally-occurring carbs in your meals, here are some foods to incorporate into your diet:
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils)
You will find refined carbs in processed foods such as cakes, bread, cookies, candies, sugar-sweetened beverages (including sodas), and the sugar added to white flour.
Carbs are your body’s primary fuel source. During digestion, your body converts complex carbs to simple sugars, which are released into the bloodstream as glucose, also known as blood sugar. The glucose is used to power your body for all its daily activities. Any leftover glucose is either saved for later or stored as fat. Natural complex carbs can help you “bulk up,” too.
As your blood sugar rises, it activates the release of insulin. By eating a low-carb diet, you will have lower insulin levels, so the body will burn that stored fat to give you energy.
Since most low-carb diets are high in protein, they include fish, poultry, eggs, meat, and vegetables that are not starchy. These diets typically require you to limit, or cut out altogether, pasta, sweets, bread, fruits, most legumes, and starchy vegetables, and sometimes seeds and nuts. Some diets allow you to eat increasing amounts of carbs as you progress through subsequent phases of the plan. On these types of diets, 80 to 240 of your daily calories will usually come from carbs. That translates to 0.7 to 2 ounces of carb-rich foods each day.
Types of Low-Carb Diets
If you want to switch to a low-carb diet, you’re not limited to one rigid eating plan; you have options. The amount of carbs you can have depends on your goals. If you engage in high-intensity exercise or simply want to maintain your weight, a daily carb count of 100 to 150 grams is recommended. If you are looking to drop pounds steadily, stick to 50 to 100 grams daily. For guys wanting to lose weight quickly, you will need to cut your carbs to 50 grams or fewer per day. Here’s an overview of some typical diets that keep carb-consumption to a minimum.
This one is the most well-known of the low-carb diets. On the Atkins diet, you keep carbs at an all-time low but can eat as much fat and protein as you need to feel full. This diet regimen consists of four phases.
- Introduction: For two weeks, you eat less than 20 grams of carbs per day.
- Balancing: You gradually add nuts and low-carb fruits and vegetables.
- Fine-tuning: When you’ve nearly reached your target weight, increase your carb intake to lose weight more slowly.
- Maintenance: In this final phase, you eat as many healthy carbs as your body can handle without gaining back the weight you just lost.
This is essentially the Atkins Diet in vegan form. If you choose this diet, you will be eating a lot of plant-based foods and ingredients with high amounts of protein and fat, such as soy, gluten, plant oils, and nuts. More carb-dense than the traditional Atkins diet, it still has lower carb levels than most other vegan eating plans. On the eco-Atkins diet, 25% of your daily calories will come from carbs, 45% come from fat, and 30% are protein-heavy.
Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet
Health professionals highly endorse this diet, which incorporates Mediterranean foods that were regional staples in the early twentieth century. The low-carb Mediterranean diet differs from the typical Mediterranean diet because it limits grains and other carb-rich foods. Mediterranean diet-followers substitute extra virgin olive oil for animal fats and eat fatty fish in place of red meat.
While most low-carb diets fit the low-carb/high-fat description, this type places special emphasis on eating whole (unprocessed) foods. On this diet, you can expect to consume 20 to 100 grams of carbs daily, and your meals will consist primarily of healthy fats, eggs, meat, fish (including shellfish), vegetables, nuts, berries, and dairy products.
If you want to cut out carbs altogether, you can by eating animal-based foods only. With the zero-carb plan, your meals would consist of eggs, meat, fish, and animal fat (lard, butter). Being on this diet, however, makes it difficult to get adequate levels of vitamins and other nutrients.
Low in carbs and high in fat, this diet plan is so named because it triggers ketosis in the body. Ketosis is a metabolic state that sends insulin levels plunging, and at the same time, releases high levels of fatty acids from store fat. Most of these acids make their way to the liver, where they are converted to ketones, water-soluble substances that supply the brain with energy. With this diet, the body can still produce some glucose but runs primarily on ketones rather than carbs.
In addition to restricting carbs, this diet tends to limit protein too, because excess protein may diminish the ketone amounts your body can produce. The keto diet is often used for fat loss, bodybuilding, and appetite-reduction.
There are two variations of this eating plan that allow you to increase your carb count: targeted and cyclical. With the targeted approach, you can have more carbs when you are working out. With cyclical keto, you go low-carb most of the time but can eat higher amounts of carbs for one or two days per week.
Low-Carb Paleo Diet
Currently, a highly-popular diet trend worldwide, this eating pattern incorporates foods most likely common during the Paleolithic era. In these pre-agricultural times, men hunted and gathered their next meal. The idea behind it is that if it enabled our ancestors to survive, it could provide health benefits to modern humans today. When you follow the paleo diet, your food choices will center around meat, fish, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and tubers. If you’re adhering to a strict paleo plan, then legumes, grains, processed foods, added sugars, and even dairy products are out. Like other low-carb menu plans, the Paleo diet has its variations too.
Whichever plan you decide on, choose one that’s a good fit for your goals and lifestyle. You’re more likely to stick with it if it lines up with your food preferences. Keep in mind that no two guys are built the same, so what works for one won’t necessarily work for everyone else.
Tips for Effective Low-Carb Eating
Transitioning to a low-carb diet isn’t always easy, especially if you’re accustomed to consuming starchy foods and sugary drinks. Remember, on Noom you are encouraged to eat the foods you love partnered with less calorie-dense options so you get to keep your favorite foods without the sacrifice and still lose weight.
These ten tips can help you navigate your new eating plan.
Know Which Foods to Eat
The best low-carb foods to put on your menu plan include:
- Lean meats (pork, chicken, sirloin)
- Broccoli and Cauliflower
- Seeds, nuts, and nut butter
- Oils (especially the rapeseed, coconut, and olive varieties)
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Fruits (especially strawberries, blueberries, and apples)
- Dairy products that haven’t been sweetened
Consider Portion Sizes
Since you need to limit your carb intake, it’s essential to choose your foods wisely and watch for portion sizes. Select low-carb foods that offer the most nutritional value, and know what quantities constitute recommended serving sizes.
Plan Your Meals
Planning meals ahead of time can help you stick to your diet and avoid unexpected trips to the drive-through of your favorite fast-food restaurant.
Cut Down on Meal-Prep Time
If you don’t like cooking or don’t have much time to spend on meal-prep, look for options that can be made quickly or prepared ahead of time. Making meal-prep as simple as possible will help you make healthy eating choices consistently. A few meal ideas that are easy to make on the fly include:
- Breakfast: Protein pancakes and egg muffins
- Lunch or Dinner: Chicken lettuce wraps and veggie stir-fry sans rice
Keep Low-Carb Snacks at the Ready
Eating smaller portions throughout the day is more helpful for some people than eating three larger meals, so don’t deny yourself when the mid-afternoon munchies set in. Tide yourself over with healthy, low-carb snacks. These may include hard-boiled eggs, a handful of nuts, a quick helping of carrots, or a chunk of cheese.
Some low-carb enthusiasts find that their weight loss eventually reaches a plateau. To prevent, or at least delay, eat the recommended low number of carbs for several days, followed by a day when you increase your carb count. Keep in mind that this doesn’t work for all men, but it’s something to consider if you’re not dropping as many pounds as you were at the beginning of low-carb.
Get to Know Carb Classifications
First, try to stay away from refined, processed carbs. Simple carbs are easiest for the body to break down. But since complex carbs take longer to digest, they’re more likely to make you feel full.
Seek Food Substitutions
Learn about swapping lower-carb foods in place of the more starchy variety. For instance, you can use lettuce leaves instead of taco shells. You can also use a variety of veggies as a stand-in for traditional pasta and pizza crusts.
Being a couch potato will hinder your weight-loss efforts. Whether you prefer to jog or pump iron, aim for 150 minutes of moderate workout time every week. For best results, consider incorporating 300 minutes of exercise each week.
Know What You’re Getting Into
Before jumping on the low-carb diet bandwagon, do your research, so you’re informed about diet options and the implications of your new eating plan. Ideally, you should run your plan by a healthcare provider, especially if you have a history of health problems.
What Is a Low-Fat Diet?
Low-fat foods derive 30% (or less) of their calories from fat. That’s 3 grams of fat for every 100 calories. The key to losing weight with a low-fat diet is also keeping track of calories. If you eat more calories than you need, your body will store them as fat, even if you’re eating low-fat foods. After all, sweets and sodas are low-fat but high in calories, and they can easily add inches to your physique.
Remember, on Noom you’re taught how to make the best food choices that include healthier fats and sometimes that means eating the full-fat version. Check out Noom today to see what it’s like to eat the foods you love and still lose weight.
According to health experts, you should get anywhere from 30 to 35% of your daily calories from fat. What does that look like? If your goal is to get 2,000 calories each day, you should aim for 44 to 77 grams of fat. To get an idea of how many fat grams you’re taking in, read the labels on food packages. They’ll not only tell you how many calories are in a serving, but they’ll also indicate the overall nutrient content per helping.
If you follow a low-fat diet, pack your menu with moderate amounts of lean, low-fat animal foods (meat and dairy) and plenty of plant-based foods (nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and grains). This can require considerable adjustment if you’re a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, but watching your red-meat consumption will help control cholesterol, carbs, calories, and fat levels.
If you work out regularly, you will want to make sure you’re getting enough protein too. Low-fat, high-protein foods include:
- Dried beans and peas
- Egg whites
- Pasta and cereals
- Low-fat cheese
- Skim or low-fat milk
- Tuna packed in water
- Certain sauces, condiments and other miscellaneous foods, such as mustard, salsa, honey, popcorn, jam, and vegetable broth
Another essential component to this type of diet is omega-3 fatty acids, which boost heart health. Foods rich in omega-3s include walnuts, salmon, avocados, almonds, cashews, and flaxseed. Fatty fish, such as salmon, is another excellent source of omega-3s. Eating these foods twice a week can provide maximum health benefits.
Low-Fat Diet Framework
When you’re considering low-carb vs. low-fat bodybuilding, it’s essential to consider the calories and nutrients you need to get the most out of your workout plan. Even when you know what foods to include on your menu, you may not be sure how to structure your meals to minimize fat intake while optimizing protein consumption. Here’s a low-fat diet framework to give you an idea of ideal portion sizes.
Try to get 3 to 6 servings of whole grains daily. You can get these from a variety of sources — baked crackers, bread, oatmeal, barley, or brown rice.
Aim for 1-2 helpings of protein-rich foods every day. These include eggs, legumes, lean meats, fish that is baked, grilled or broiled, nuts, seeds, and skinless poultry.
Make it a goal to eat five servings of vegetables daily. Veggies can be frozen, fresh, dried, or canned.
Whether they’re frozen, dried, canned, or fresh, make a point to get four servings of fruit each day.
According to the American Heart Association, people should limit their dairy products to 3 servings per day. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products will provide optimal health benefits.
Each day, you can have up to 3 tablespoons of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils — sunflower, peanut, canola, or olive.
Low-Fat Diet Meal Planning
Planning meals ahead of time can go a long way toward helping you stick to your diet. Here are some low-fat meal suggestions to get you started. Of course, you can make adjustments according to your lifestyle and food preferences.
Start your day with whole-grain toast or a cup of oatmeal topped with honey or blueberries. Pair it with a glass of orange juice.
Make a tuna-stuffed veggie wrap or a salad with boiled eggs. Grilled, baked, or broiled meat or fish is a healthy option, too.
Enjoy a plate of pasta with tomato sauce. You can even put a few meatballs on top. Eat it with a side of grilled vegetables.
If you need to munch on something between meals, keep crunchy, raw vegetables, or baked crackers on hand.
Tips for Following a Low-Fat Diet
Knowing the do’s and don’ts of low-fat diets can help you make the best possible food choices. Whether you’re doing the cooking, someone else is doing it for you, or you’re eating out, there are steps you can take to reduce your fat intake. Consider these tips for adhering to this diet regimen.
- At restaurants, opt for grilled options, rather than battered and deep-fried meat or poultry. If you’re preparing meals at home, broil or bake meat and fish on a rack so that excess fat can drip off. If you enjoy grilling, now is the time to take your searing skills to the next level.
- If you’re eating leftover gravy, soups and stews, remove the fat that rises to the top when these items are refrigerated.
- Instead of using butter, cheese, or creamy sauces on vegetables, sprinkle them with herbs and spices.
- If you like loaded baked potatoes, skip the sour cream. You might think the low-fat variety is harmless, but it’s not fat-free. If you can’t resist topping your loaded spud with this additive, use only a small amount or use non-fat greek yogurt instead.
- When eating out, stay away from casseroles and foods slathered in heavy sauces. Ask for your meal to be prepared without extra butter, gravy, sauce, or oil.
- Skip dessert or opt for fruit or sorbet instead of ice cream and pie.
- If your restaurant meal comes with a side salad, ask for low-fat dressing, and put it on the side, so it doesn’t drench your plate.
- Cutaway all visible fat from red meat. Do the same for poultry, and don’t forget to remove the skin.
Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat Diets for Weight Loss
Now that you know more about what low-carb, high-fat foods and low-fat diets are like, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these eating plans. Keep in mind that no two bodies respond in precisely the same way to a particular eating plan, so it’s recommended that you talk to a healthcare provider before making any major lifestyle adjustments. Learning as much as you can about the consequences of various diet changes will help you make the most informed decision possible before embarking on your weight-loss journey.
Research supports using low-carb diets to combat obesity and Type 2 diabetes. For best results, the focus should be on optimizing nutrient content, rather than just counting calories. Still, other studies point to the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diets in assisting with weight loss. Evidence suggests that it’s not only the low-carb food choices that have a healthful impact. The diet also plays a role in optimizing heart health and controlling appetite.
Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology looked at the impact of low-carb diets vs. low-fat diets. Researchers analyzed several trials to determine whether one method might be more effective than the other. Their research examined 23 randomized, controlled trials conducted around the world.
Both diet types led to weight loss and a reduction in metabolic risk factors for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. In the low-carb dieters, they noticed a slight, but statistically significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The low-carb eaters experienced higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) than their low-fat consuming counterparts. They also had lower triglyceride levels. Both diets also lowered blood pressure and insulin levels.
Between the two diet groups, differences in waist circumference, weight loss, and other risk factors were minimal.
The results of the meta-analysis point to the possibility that low-carb diets are just as effective as low-fat diets when it comes to losing weight and mitigating metabolic risk factors. Clinicians may recommend low-carb diets for obese individuals with abnormal metabolic risk factors.
According to earlier studies, those who followed low-carb diets showed considerable changes in their metabolic risk factors. However, these results weren’t consistent across the board. These differences could be attributed to small sample sizes and the short duration of many of the studies, which may not have been able to detect changes in metabolic risk factors.
Other research indicates that low-carb diets are more effective than low-fat diets in achieving weight loss, but only in the short-term. The difference was most pronounced within the first six months. But after a year, the disparities were no longer statistically significant.
Other Implications of Diet Changes
The researchers also pointed to studies suggesting that low-carb diets were associated with changes in mood. However, weight loss is also known to boost mood, while obesity is linked to depression. There is also the possibility that low-carb diets may cause the body to excrete more calcium, but this does not seem to have a negative impact on bone density. It may be that this is offset by an enhanced ability of the intestines to absorb calcium.
Another caveat about low-carb diets: They tend to be high in fat, and excessive levels of fat are associated with certain types of cancer. Therefore, people should be mindful of the sources and amounts of fat they’re consuming.
Although it’s enjoyed widespread popularity, the Atkins diet has also been surrounded by controversy. A review of different diets revealed that this diet of low-carbohydrate high-fat foods allowed for the most weight loss, but differences in pounds dropped didn’t vary that much across the board. The key to patients meeting their weight-loss goals had more to do with adhering to the diet than which plan they followed.
According to a critique of the Atkins diet, this eating plan is not the most beneficial for overall health. It is not recommended for people with kidney failure, heart failure, or diabetes. Fatigue and nausea are common side effects. However, it does allow people to lose weight quickly and is usually a safer option than intestinal bypass or complete fasting. Furthermore, people who are overweight or obese often have difficulty following through on a diet plan. But achieving such quick results may motivate people to stick with it. Another advantage of the Atkins diet is that it reduces appetite, so people can eat less and not deal with increased hunger. While this eating plan may be beneficial for short periods, it is not recommended to be followed long-term.
Low-Fat Diet Plan
A meta-analysis of weight loss studies uncovered the following results. Low-carb diets were found to contribute to weight loss much more than low-fat approaches did. Neither did low-fat diets lead to a significant difference in weight loss than higher-fat eating plans. Following a low-fat diet, however, contributed to better weight loss results than following a traditional diet. Researchers concluded that low-fat diets were minimally effective in achieving long-term weight loss.
Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat for Fat Loss
In one study, researchers attempted to compare the effects of a low-carb diet vs. a low-fat diet. The study consisted of five trials involving 447 test subjects with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 25. Researchers tracked the participants for at least six months to evaluate the results. They concluded that low-carb, non-energy-restricted diets were at least as effective as low-fat, energy-restricted diets in facilitating weight loss for up to 12 months.
We believe lasting fat loss is achieved through a combination of lifestyle changes. Noom shows you how and why to choose certain foods or portion sizes giving you the power to change your life.
Pros and Cons of the Keto Diet
Clinicians are somewhat divided on whether people should follow this diet. While it is considered a practical approach to weight loss and allows people to achieve desired results quickly, it may not be necessary for people who do not need to lose weight. While the keto diet offers health benefits for type 2 diabetes, it also lowers LDL cholesterol levels. Understandably, clinicians are also concerned with the long-term effects of adhering to a ketogenic diet. However, research suggests that a diet emphasizing plant-based foods can lower people’s risk for cancer and heart disease and contribute to a longer lifespan.
A 2019 article published in Nutrients also compared low-carb diets and low-fat diets. In their narrative review, researchers pointed to some variables that can make it difficult to know whether a low-carb diet is more effective than a low-fat diet, or vice versa. Low-fat diets began to become commonplace in the 1940s, as they were recognized as a way to aid in weight loss and reduce metabolic risk factors. Then, in the 1970s, the Atkins Diet arrived on the scene, advocating reduced carb intake to lose weight and control insulin levels.
Arriving at accurate conclusions about these diets can be a challenge because studies are typically conducted on an outpatient basis. Ultimately, it is difficult to determine how well patients are adhering to a particular diet plan, and from which foods they are getting their calories. If study subjects are consuming foods with little nutritional value, their health will be adversely affected.
This study attempted to narrow down the larger body of research on carbohydrates vs. fat, excluding trials in which researchers could not prove that participants complied with their diet regimens. Likewise, the researchers excluded studies involving patients who had co-morbidities, as these could affect the results.
A review of an in-patient study involving 17 overweight or obese men showed little statistical significant difference in energy output and intake when eating a restricted diet.
Still other studies cited by the researchers show that it is difficult to assess differences in patients’ energy levels and overall fitness because of the outpatient nature of the research. For those who report weight loss and an increase in muscle mass, it could be due to physical activity that can’t be observed, as well as the diet itself.
This article also examines research on participants who consumed low, moderate, and high levels of carbohydrates. Significant differences in energy output were found between the low and high carb groups. However, the researchers couldn’t monitor the subjects’ diets and activity levels. It’s also possible that some participants over- or under-reported their energy expenditures. Furthermore, the researchers emphasized post-weight loss data rather than also taking into account the data that centered around participants’ initial weight at the beginning of the study.
This analysis also suggests that dietary protein has a positive impact on energy output. In low-fat diets, protein allowed for a small improvement in resting energy expenditure. On the other hand, energy expenditure was lower for those following a low-carb diet. However, due to the lack of in-patient studies, and therefore dietary supervision, not enough evidence has been gathered to indicate that different carbohydrate and fat levels in a person’s diet contributes to weight loss or gain while improving energy output.
In a trial in which patients who were overweight and non-diabetic consumed a low-carb diet, they reported experiencing no changes in appetite or diet satisfaction than following their regular diets. But in a year-long study in which participants self-reported their findings, a lower-carb diet (consisting of 40% carbs) was linked to higher levels of diet satisfaction than a more carb-dense diet (consisting of 50% carbs). Those who received a low-fat diet had lower levels of pancreatic peptide YY, an appetite-suppressing hormone, than their low-carb counterparts. That led to the low-carbohydrate group reporting better satiety and less hunger than the low-fat group.
After eight weeks of weight loss, though, test subjects reported that they had less desire to eat, experienced less hunger, and had increased satiety. Yet in other research cited by the reviewers, those who lost weight claimed to have an increased appetite and desire to eat, along with a decreased sense of fullness.
Those who consumed higher fat diets reported increased cravings for sweets when compared to a control group.
Meta-Analysis of Ketogenic Low-Carb Diets
The Nutrient article also considers the effects of an energy-restricted ketogenic low-carbohydrate diet on appetite. The KLCD with energy restriction was expected to increase hunger, but this does not appear to have happened. It’s unclear what these results can be attributed to.
But in a 12-week keto diet intervention, obese participants reported decreases in appetite and emotional eating. The researchers concluded that the keto diet has a small impact on appetite. Effects on appetite could also be influenced by how well test subjects adhered to the prescribed diet plan.
It’s also tricky to pin down how well certain diets help patients maintain their weight loss. For example, in one study attempting to determine this, it was found that in the initial phase, patients were more likely to stick to a low-carb or Mediterranean diet than they were to follow a low-fat diet. But this was only the case for the first five months of the six-month trial. During the weight-maintenance portion of the study, compliance dropped off.
The ability to lose weight, and keep it off, is a key indicator of a diet’s efficacy. According to a correlational analysis, increasing carbs and fat intake appear to lead to higher levels of obesity. This is thought to be due to the increase in caloric intake. However, the researchers couldn’t find any long-term studies to back up this claim. Researchers looked at a meta-analysis of 22 studies on the relationship between obesity risk and high-carb vs. low-carb diets. Interestingly, they found no difference between the two eating plans.
When it comes to the link between weight loss during calorie restriction and low-carb vs. low-fat diets, the results are mixed. According to some studies, weight loss was more significant when people followed a low-carbohydrate or low-fat regimen. Others, as mentioned earlier, showed no differences. In the meta-analysis, the findings were statistically, but not medically, significant.
Long-Term Results of Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat Diets
Another difficulty in evaluating the effectiveness of these diet plans lies in finding definitive conclusions about their long-term effects. When comparing multiple studies, the collective results are often inconclusive. A Foster et al. report assessed participants who were involved in a lifestyle-modification program. Over two years, both during and after the program, researchers found no differences in weight loss or reduced weight-loss maintenance. Based on the research, it’s impossible to know whether low-fat or low-carb diets enable people to maintain their weight long-term. Especially in outpatient settings, there is no way to ascertain the long-term consequences of following a low-fat or low-carb diet.
Another consideration at the forefront of researchers’ and clinicians’ minds is if, and how, low-fat and low-carb diets increase or mitigate risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The current research indicates that both diets offer considerable benefits, but there are no serious differences in how they impact health. Sackner-Bernstein et al. concluded that low-carb diets were linked to greater weight loss and lower risk of heart disease, as evidenced by lower triglyceride levels and systolic blood pressure — but higher LDL and total cholesterol.
More recently, the National Lipid Association Nutrition and Lifestyle Task Force reported that low and very low-carb diets were no better than other dietary approaches when it came to weight loss. But they may be more effective than low-fat diets in reducing triglyceride levels. There appeared inconclusive results related to the two diets’ effect on LDL, and there was no difference compared to other markers for cardiovascular disease.
During glucose tests, Gardner et al. could not find any significant effects of healthy low-fat vs. healthy low-carb eating on insulin release. In the in-patient study of 17 men mentioned earlier, Rosenbaum et al. found that the keto diet was linked to lower insulin sensitivity. But when fasting insulin sensitivity measures were taken into account, the keto diet improved insulin sensitivity. According to that same study, the keto diet was associated with lower triglycerides but an increase in LDL and total cholesterol.
When determining the validity of research, there are other important factors to consider. Characteristics about the populations studied need to be considered, as they may bias the results. For example, when considering how these diets affect appetite, it’s important to note that other elements not directly mentioned in the research can affect hunger. Whether and how the food is processed, its fiber content and its fatty acid quality are independent variables that can impact appetite. As you may already know, processed foods prevalent in the standard American diet are associated with weight gain. Quality and quantity of calories are important considerations, too, but can be challenging to measure. Similarly, low-carb, high-unsaturated fat diets are associated with heightened glucose stability compared to high-carb low-fat diets.
When researchers study larger populations, they may not be able to determine the effects of diet and lifestyle changes on people with specific medical conditions. For instance, Hjorth et al. discovered that pre-diabetic individuals with high fasting insulin lost more weight when following a low-fat diet. Patients with lower fasting insulin, on the other hand, responded well to a low-carb diet. Other studies, too, suggest that limiting carbs can be helpful in controlling diabetes. More than standard low-calorie diets, low-carb keto diets controlled blood sugar. People who follow low-carb diets have been shown to have a decreased need for medications to manage their diabetes.
Authors of the article concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support the idea that either a low-carb or low-fat diet is superior in preventing obesity and achieving and maintaining weight loss. Lack of dietary supervision in many of these trials, as well as the dearth of long-term studies, does not lend support to the overall effectiveness of either diet plan.
Another complication is the absence of a standardized definition of what constitutes a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a low-carb diet is one in which less than 20% of calories come from carbs. During the initial phase, the Atkins diet only allows 15-20 grams of carbs daily. With ketogenic diets, 90% of calories can come from fat. With traditional keto diets, the ratio of fats to proteins is 4:1. Modifications in these diets, however, have led to considerable variations, so there is no consensus on how to define a particular diet type. As with low-carb diets, there is no standard definition of the low-fat variety.
Noting the limitations of the current studies, future researchers may make a greater effort to avoid these weaknesses in later trials.
In a February 2018 JAMA article, researchers looked at the effects of low-fat vs. low-carb diets on weight loss over 12 months. Study authors also weighed in on whether these diets impacted insulin secretion and genotype patterns. The randomized clinical trial involved 609 overweight adults. After 12 months, the researchers found no significant difference between the low-carb and low-fat groups when it came to the amount of weight lost. Likewise, there were no differences in altered genotype patterns or insulin secretions between the two cohorts.
The non-diabetic participants ranged in age from 18-50 and had BMIs ranging from 28 to 40. They participated in regular sessions in which they learned how to reduce their intake of carbs and fat, respectively, and avoid gaining back the weight they lost. At the end of the 12 months, both groups reported similar amounts of weight loss.
The study authors concluded that some people respond better than others to certain types of dietary interventions. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to weight loss. Factors specific to the individual could make a person more or less likely to achieve the desired results with a particular diet plan. For example, those with a low-fat responsive genotype will lose more weight on a low-fat diet than on a low-carb diet.
Likewise, people with higher insulin resistance may do better on a low-carb diet. This is because there are fewer demands on the body’s insulin, as it has to process lower levels of carbohydrates.
The study’s authors concluded that some people had greater success with one type of diet over another because of predisposing factors, such as genotype patterns, rather than the diets themselves.
Effective Weight-Loss Strategies for Men
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Couch et all reflected on the weight-loss stories of 47 Australian men, as reported to Men’s Health magazine. The study authors’ goal was to determine whether the tactics used by the men aligned with best practices as dictated by medical guidelines.
All of the men reported engaging in regular cardio exercises, such as walking, running, cycling, and rowing. More than half also participated in resistance training. They all reported making progress, as they were able to increase the duration, intensity, and frequency of their workouts. They found that exercise could speed up their metabolisms, making it easier to lose weight and add muscle mass.
Forty-one of the forty-seven men also admitted to making changes in their diets to lose weight. They cited portion control and healthy eating as some of the most critical contributors to their weight loss success. Reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking were also helpful.
Less than half of the men reported that they followed what they referred to as special diets. For some, this meant switching to low-carb low-fat high protein eating plans.
Several, but not all, of the men noted how much time they dedicated to weight-loss efforts. This ranged from three months to six years.
Many of the men who modified their diets claimed that they did so according to scientifically-based best practices. But the study authors conclude that the men got most of their information on dietary information from the media. Unfortunately, the media has been known to disseminate misinformation about diet recommendations and other lifestyle habits. The researchers noted that the special diets some of the men followed, such as eating more often or switching to a low-carb diet, do not come with evidence supporting their effectiveness.
The men’s weight-loss success can likely be attributed to their self-management strategies. By combining dietary modifications, exercise, and behavioral strategies, such as setting goals or enlisting others’ support in keeping them accountable, they could lose significant amounts of weight.
This review suggests that to achieve the best results in losing weight and building muscle, it’s essential to pick a diet plan that fits your lifestyle, food preferences, and overall health status.
Effectiveness of “Extreme” Diets
A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research considered the overall effectiveness of “extreme” diets, including low-carb and low-fat varieties. These carbohydrates versus fat diet trends tend to wax and wane in terms of their popularity.
Low-carb diets can help regulate blood sugar. They also allow for rapid weight loss, at least in the initial phases. The researchers point out, however, that much of this drop in weight is due to water-weight loss. A diet that emphasizes eating meat but doesn’t include adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables can harm bone health. Long-term, such diets can lead to an increased risk for cancer or may cause inflammation in the body.
The study also sheds light on how cultural factors play a role in following a particular eating plan. High-carb diets are common in India, for instance, so adhering to a low-carb diet can be especially difficult. Indians who are vegetarians can’t consistently eat high-fat, high-protein low-carb meals when vegetables lack these properties. Low-fat, high-carb diets tend to have lower cholesterol. But any benefits afforded by this diet are only short-term. There is no evidence of them in the long run. Additionally, since fat adds flavor to foods, low-fat diets tend to lack flavor. Limited palatability causes most people to be unable to stick with these diets for extended time frames.
While calorie considerations are important, people should use caution when starting very-low-calorie diets. They should supplement with multivitamins, make sure they’re getting enough potassium, and stay well-hydrated.
Researchers in this study recommend a balanced approach to diet and weight loss. A healthy diet contains equal amounts of carbs and fat; the rest comes from protein. These eating regimens allow you to expend more energy than you take in, accelerating weight loss. Balanced diets also reduce LDL and triglycerides.
The study authors went on to assert that “extreme” diets allow for rapid, but not long-lasting results. Since the goal of improving health is not only to lose weight but to keep it off, and because no two bodies are exactly alike, the same diet prescription won’t work for everyone. Though not discussed at length in this article, exercise programs are just as important as diet plans when it comes to maintaining your weight-loss goals.
In a 2018 edition of Healthcare, researchers weighed in on the optimal dietary approach for adults who were overweight or obese. This mini-review gives practical recommendations and insights into safe, sustainable weight-loss solutions.
Patients should strive not only to lose weight but to avoid gaining it back later. Therefore, they should choose a diet regimen that they can easily comply with and follow long-term. Besides choosing the right foods, small changes can go a long way toward losing weight. Eating more slowly, for example, can help dieters feel full before they have a chance to overeat.
With low-fat diets, the researchers noted, people consume fewer calories. Typically, they see their most significant weight loss in the first few months of dieting. Then, loss slows. The studies considered here, however, do not provide any evidence that reducing fat consumption proves more effective than other diet methods when it comes to long-term, meaningful weight loss. Several other studies corroborate this claim.
People who choose low-carb diets often have difficulty adhering to them in the long run. And since they usually involve an increased fat intake, these diets may prove hazardous enough to shorten a person’s lifespan. However, at least in the short-term, very low-carb diets may be most effective in contributing to weight loss.
In terms of achieving long-term weight-maintenance, keto diets and low-carb diets fared better than low-fat diets. Mediterranean diets have also been shown to help reduce cardiovascular and stroke risks, fasting glucose, and lipids in people who are genetically-susceptible to cardiovascular problems. More clinical trials are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of the Mediterranean diet conclusively.
Health and nutrition experts generally agree that to provide maximum benefits, a diet should allow for less energy intake than output. But whether this requires strict calorie counting and portion size control is still up for debate. A Standford University study (cited above) that involved 609 healthy adults attempting to settle the quality vs. quantity question. Researchers concluded that diet quality is crucial for weight loss, irrespective of energy intake. However, this study doesn’t provide enough insight into the long-term consequences of adopting a particular diet.
To be effective in achieving sustainable weight loss, a diet should meet the following criteria:
- Nutritionally-adequate and healthy
- Conducive to compliance
While diet recommendations are supported by research, the jury is still out on what the ideal diet looks like. That’s because no two people will respond the same way to a particular eating plan. What is consistent is the oft-repeated guideline about healthy eating: Make sure your diet consists of plenty of whole (naturally-occurring, non-processed) foods. At the same time, limit your sugar intake. Following these basic principles may reduce or eliminate the necessity of counting calories and closely watching portion sizes.
For best results, the study authors suggest a balanced goal-centered approach to weight loss. Additionally, it should be tailored to the individual’s needs.
Building Muscle Mass 101
lf you are overweight or obese, losing weight is a significant first step to improving your health. If you want to take your fitness to the next level, gaining muscle will help you build stamina and lower your body mass index (BMI). Too many men know all too well how difficult it is to build muscle and maintain it. Bulking up is about more than just hitting the gym and picking up weights a couple of times a week. It requires specific strategies that incorporate diet and exercise. Here’s a quick overview of bodybuilding 101.
Power Up on Protein
Protein synthesis refers to the process your body goes through to store protein, which is used for various metabolic activities, such as producing testosterone and other hormones. Protein is also the key ingredient to increasing muscle mass. To accomplish your goal, you need to aim for one gram of protein for every pound of body weight. Consuming the max amount of protein your body can handle every day allows you to take it in faster than your body can break it down, leaving enough left over at the end of the day to beef up your muscles. Getting that protein is easier than you might think. Once you’ve got your protein allotment squared away, divide the rest of the remaining calories you plan to consume to equal numbers of carbs and healthy fats.
Increase Your Calorie Count
Especially if you are working on low-fat bodybuilding, this might sound counterintuitive if you are trying to get in shape, but you will need to increase your caloric intake if you want to boost muscle mass. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat, so even if you’ve been losing weight, you can expect the number on the bathroom scale to start going up soon after you start your bodybuilding boot camp. If you’re serious about gaining muscle, here is a formula to calculate the calories you are likely to need.
- Start with your body weight in pounds and multiply it by twelve to get a baseline for how many calories you would need to maintain your current weight.
- Multiply your baseline calorie total by 1.6. This gives you your resting metabolic rate, which is the rate at which you burn calories without taking exercise into account.
- Strength training metric: Multiply the number of minutes you spend (or plan to spend) weekly by 5.
- Aerobic training metric: Take the number of minutes you spend weekly on aerobic training and multiply it by 8. Aerobic activities include cycling, running, and playing sports.
- Add your strength training and aerobic training totals and divide that number by 7.
- Add your resting metabolic rate and to the total from the previous step. This gives you your required calorie count.
- Add 500 to the total you arrived at in the previous step. This gives you the maximum number of calories you will likely need to gain a pound of muscle mass every week.
Eat More Frequently
Eating every few hours allows your body to build new proteins more quickly. Instead of eating three larger meals a day, try six smaller ones. Aim for 20 grams of protein every three hours. To get an idea of how many calories to shoot for at each meal, take the calorie total you need for the day and divide by the number of meals you’re eating — in this case, six.
Challenge Your Body
While working individual muscles and small muscle groups have their advantages, you need to incorporate multi-joint movements into your workout plan to achieve major results. As this term suggests, it involves training multiple joints and muscles all at once. Activating more than one muscle group gives you the ability to lift more weight and use different muscles together. The latter activity more closely simulates the activities you do outside the gym anyway, so you will find that you’re in better shape to carry out your daily routine. Exercises that help you build multiple muscle groups include:
- Bench presses
Train Like a Heavyweight
As long as you do it safely, you will see better results if you increase the weight you lift. Doing so allows for the tearing and rebuilding of the soft tissues, making them more resilient. However, adding more weight doesn’t mean you should do longer reps. With less weight, you may be used to doing 10-15 reps per set. When you’re shifting more weight, five reps per set will probably be enough. As you build strength, you will be able to do more reps.
Hydrate with Carbohydrates Before You Hit the Gym
It’s not uncommon for bodybuilders to chug a protein shake after a workout. It’s more beneficial to down that shake before working out rather than afterward. Drinking a blend of protein and carbs before hitting the weights appears to increase protein synthesis. For best results, you’ll need to mix a healthy scoop of whey protein powder — which contains 10 to 20 grams of protein — into your shake. If you’re not a protein shake kind of guy, you can replace the drink with a whole-wheat bread sandwich containing a slice of American cheese and four ounces of deli turkey. The drink will probably be more effective, though, because the body absorbs liquids more readily. Take the shake 20 to 30 minutes before you workout.
Don’t Expect the Same Level of Intensity Every Day
Not every workout has to test your endurance limits. Limit your most brutal weight-training sessions to three times a week. And make sure they don’t happen on back-to-back days. Your body needs time to recover between intense workouts. If your muscles are always pushed to the breaking point, they won’t be able to build the mass you want.
Increase Your Carb Count on Resting Days
To facilitate muscle growth, it’s essential to get plenty of carbs between workouts. This is true whether you are low-fat bodybuilding or low-carb bodybuilding. Doing so boosts your insulin levels, so your body synthesizes protein more slowly, Just make sure you’re getting healthy, naturally-occurring carbs, such as those found in fruit and whole-grain bread.
Indulge in Some Post-Workout Ice Cream
This tip probably sounds too good to be true, but indulging in a bowl of your favorite flavor — even if it’s Rocky Road — two hours after a workout will limit protein breakdown. This cold snack increases insulin production better than any other.
Have a Glass of Milk Before Bed
For bodybuilders, a helping of carbs and protein a half-hour before bed will inhibit protein synthesis while you sleep. For maximum benefits, eat first thing in the morning again. Your pre-bedtime routine can include whole-grain cereal with a cup of skim milk or one cup each of fruit and cottage cheese.
Benefits of Building Muscle Mass
Probably the most obvious reason for building muscle mass is to tone up and get bigger. But strength-training offers a host of other benefits too. Here are some compelling reasons you might not have thought of to start a weight-training program. Weight training not only allows you to burn calories faster but also enables you to build lean muscle mass.
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Reduce Abdominal Fat
Admittedly, six-pack abs are hard to come by, so even if that goal proves elusive, you can still use resistance training to get rid of belly fat. When Harvard researchers tracked 10,500 men over 12 years, they discovered that weight training was a better remedy than cardiovascular exercise when it came to burning belly fat.
Reduced Risk of Injury
When muscles are weak, they place undue pressure on tendons, making injuries more likely. Having strong muscles improves balance, coordination, and overall mobility. Not only does resistance training improve muscle stamina, but it also widens collagen fibrils in tendons, making them more durable, so they’re less vulnerable to injuries.
Lower Cancer Risk
Too much abdominal fat leaves you more susceptible to diabetes and heart disease and puts you at higher risk for developing cancer, too.
Control Blood Sugar
Strength training is especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes. Building muscle mass improves the body’s ability to synthesize glucose, also known as blood sugar. Visceral fat cells are associated with high levels of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), a protein that can lead to cancer. Even if you develop cancer, having muscle mass can improve your recovery trajectory. Muscle wasting, common among patients undergoing cancer treatment, is linked to lower survival rates, accelerated tumor growth, and greater susceptibility to chemotherapy toxicity.
Better Body Image
Since working out triggers heightened mental clarity and feelings of accomplishment, it’s not surprising that building muscle mass can lead to improved body image, even before you’ve achieved the desired results.
Enhanced Brain Health
Strength training can help you boost brainpower. The benefits are especially striking for older adults with mild cognitive decline. Participating in a strength training program enabled them to improve their scores on tests of cognitive functioning. Those who participated only in a stretching routine, however, actually lost ground. Researchers explained that weight training was likely so effective because it increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, allowing it to operate more efficiently.
We tend to lose bone density as we age. Any weight-bearing activity done in a standing position strengthens the bones, increasing their mineral density. This happens because lifting allows the muscles to contract, pulling on the bones they are attached to. This directs minerals into the bones and triggers the production of structural proteins.
Lean muscle mass is a better indicator of a person’s overall health. Measuring a man’s strength can be used to predict his lifespan. Therefore, building muscles can enable you to live longer.
Improved Heart Health
Abdominal fat, or visceral fat, as it’s also called, is situated around many of the body’s vital organs, including the heart. Toning up your abdomen reduces that fat, boosting the health of your heart and other organs. Young men who participate in resistance training have been shown to have higher levels of HDL (good cholesterol) than their non-strength training counterparts. Resistance training also enhances triglyceride levels and blood pressure. Cardiovascular activity has a similar effect, but weight lifting provides the additional benefit of promoting healthy cholesterol.
Heightened Mental Health
People who participate in cardio frequently experience “runner’s high.” Exercise does play a role in alleviating depression and anxiety. Strength training takes it a step further, creating a predictable environment where you can test limits and challenge yourself to accomplish more than you thought. This type of activity enhances mental resilience. To combat anxiety symptoms, health experts suggest reps with light to moderate weights or about 70% of what you can typically lift.
Proper stretching is a critical part of any exercise regimen, including strength training. Stretching takes your muscles through their full range of motion. Over time, you can even increase their range of motion, allowing for improved flexibility.
American Journal of Men’s Health
A 2017 article published in the American Journal of Men’s Health exams weight-loss interventions in a group of exclusively male study participants. The researchers recognized that men are often overlooked in the provision of services provided to manage obesity. At the same time, men are more likely not to realize that they are overweight or obese, or to recognize that their weight could put them at risk for chronic illnesses such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. They may also be less likely than women to take steps to control their weight.
Weight loss and physical activity research show an underrepresentation of men, too. Most weight-loss services target women. The above-cited study aims to determine which weight-loss interventions are especially effective for men so that research and programs on the subject can be tailored accordingly.
The studies analyzed consisted of randomized trials, or quasi-randomized trials, lasting at least one year. Participants were males ages 16 and up. Interventions provided included diet changes, exercise plans, and behavior adjustments, or a combination of all of the above.
Two trials included in the analysis compared the effect of a lower-calorie diet vs. a lower-calorie diet and exercise. After one year, men in the diet and exercise group lost less weight than those in the diet group alone. At 18 and 36 months, though, there were no between-group differences. In other similar research, there was no significant difference in weight loss, no matter which diet the participants followed. However, the men who participated in strength training reported better cholesterol and waist-to-hip ratios than those engaged in light or moderate cardio (walking).
Although the study was limited due to the relatively small number of trials available for analysis, the researchers concluded that, for men, the most effective techniques for weight loss includes a lower-calorie diet paired with advice on physical activity, or any activity program and training in how to make lifestyle adjustments.
Furthermore, the trials were characterized by high retention rates suggesting that, while it may be difficult to recruit men for these studies, when clinicians do get them on board, they are likely to stick with the program. Interventions will be more effective if these studies are designed to be appealing to men. Goal-centered approaches that are individually-tailored are thought to yield the best results. Therefore, the key to success lies not only in the diet plan followed, but the overall content of the program itself.
Tying It All Together Low-Carb Diets vs. Low-Fat Diets — and Everything in Between
If you want to lose weight while building muscle mass, it’s essential to choose the diet and fitness regimen that’s right for you. Researchers, in large part, are conflicted about the long-term benefits of low-carb and low-fat diets. To meet your goal, keep the following considerations in mind; these are the most important components to maintaining a healthy weight.
Consider a Multi-Angled Approach
Research indicates that weight-loss plans work better if they incorporate multiple interventions, rather than just applying one solution in isolation. The most satisfactory results were achieved when diet modifications were recommended alongside an exercise program or other type of intervention. This isn’t surprising since the best diet and weight-loss plans meet people where they are.
Improve Diet Quality
You will quickly be stymied in your weight-maintenance efforts if you rely on junk food, processed food, and sugary drinks. Make the most of each meal (and snack) by choosing foods with the highest nutrient content and lowest calorie density.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Lifestyle factors play a role in how well you will stick to your diet plan. As you take weight loss head-on, set realistic goals. Otherwise, you will quickly become discouraged. A diet that reflects your food preferences and lifestyle is one you will be more likely to follow through on.
Tell Others About Your Plan
Letting others know about your weight-loss goals allows them to hold your feet to the fire when your efforts fall short. They can also encourage you. In fact, there’s nothing like partnering with a buddy to tackle dieting or hit the gym for some weight training.
Keep an Open Mind
Remember that most diets don’t work the same way for everyone. If you’re not having much success with your eating plan, try another one. And keep in mind that sustainable weight loss and weight maintenance take time. A “quick fix” solution probably won’t hold up in the long run.
You also may see more satisfying results if you don’t try to make too many changes at once. People who enjoy weight-loss success often report that they slowly incorporate one or two small changes. You might, for example, start with something as simple as substituting skim milk for whole milk.
Most importantly, choose foods and exercise activities that you enjoy. Some guys suggest not even looking at your food intake adjustments as a diet. For many, that’s a recipe for failure. Instead, consider the changes you’re making as a lifestyle. When you can make these new practices a habit, it will become second nature to make healthful choices — now and in the years to come.
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Questions and Answers
Q: Can you eat low carb and low fat?
A: You absolutely can eat low carb and low fat – it’s called a high-protein diet and many men use it for muscle growth and recovery.
Q: Is it better to count calories or carbs to lose weight?
A: Losing weight is about taking in the right carbs and the right calories, not counting each and every one. With Noom, we suggest using a food category system that shows you how to choose the least calorie-dense foods so you eat more for fewer calories.
Q: What can you eat on a low fat low carb diet?
A: Some of the healthiest whole foods on earth are low fat and low carb. For instance, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, beans, and even some grains offer fantastic nutrition without all the fat and carbs.
Q: Is it better to watch calories or carbs?
A: Whether you watch calories or carbs depends on the type of diet you want to follow and your current health condition. Noom works with calorie-watching, but science has shown promise for carb watching, as well.
Q: Can I eat high carbs and still lose weight?
A: Low-fat diets tend to be high carb, so yes, you can each high carbs and lose weight.
Q: What are good carbs for weight loss?
A: Natural, whole foods provide the best carbs for weight loss. Aim for unprocessed foods in their natural form.
Q: What happens if I eat no fat or carbs?
A: Eating just protein can cause health issues in the long run. The body can’t absorb some vitamins without fats, so you’ll eventually suffer from nutritional deficiencies.
Q: Can you lose weight on 50 carbs a day?
A: Yes, many low-carb diets start out with around 50 carbs a day.
Q: Is 800 calories a day safe?
A: Very low calorie diets, like those supplying just 800 calories a day, are safe when followed in conjunction with support from a healthcare provider.
Q: How many carbs should you eat a day to lose weight?
A: There is no single answer to this question. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests up to 65% of total daily calories from carbs.