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The Best Diet For Weight Loss – Low fat vs. Low carb diets

The Best Diet For Weight Loss – Low fat vs. Low carb diets

One of the biggest questions in the diet and nutrition industry, what is the best diet for weight loss?

We all know the people who swear by a low-fat diet and the ones that swear by a low carb diet. But is there really that big of a difference?

In this article I am going to compare a low-fat diet with a high-fat diet, most often referred to as a keto diet.

There are million different types of diets out there but is there one that works better than the other, or do we just need a calorie deficit to lose weight?

Note that this blog post focusses on the difference regarding fat loss, not overall health or health effects of these diets.

We’ll be looking at all the research done about this question!

History of diets for weight loss

Diets have been around for a long time now, as early as 1863 when the first popular diet emerged. This was called “Banting”, named after the funeral director William Banting.

This diet consisted of four meals a day, containing meat, vegetables, fruits and dry wine. The focus was on avoiding sweets, sugar, starch, beer, milk, and butter. (X)

The “Banting” diet can be seen as the father of low-carb dieting.

The first diet that was focused on calorie counting was in 1918 and became popular by the book Diet and Health: With Key to the Calories. Written by Luly Hunt Peters.

What is dieting?

Before we answer our burning question, I want to explain what I mean by dieting. To make sure we are all on the same page.

This is the practice of eating food in a regulated and supervised fashion to decrease maintain or increase body weight.

Dieting is not only focussed on body weight it can also be used to treat or prevent certain diseases. Like diabetes.

So dieting doesn’t have to always be focused on fat loss. But for this blog post, we are purely looking at fat loss.

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The best diet for weight loss

A recent study (1) looked at the effects of a healthy low-fat diet and a healthy low carb diet on weight change over a period of 12 months.

They did not only look at the weight but also at the possible related effects to genotype pattern of insulin secretion.

This is the first study that had a large number of participant, was held over a longer period of time and was carefully monitored. There were over 600 people who were followed for 12 months.

The study testes if there was a possible link between genotype patterns and diet type for weight loss success. So let’s say you have genotype x than diet x would work best for you.

They also tested if there was a potential link between insulin secretion and diet type for weight loss success.

Insulin secretion and diet type

Within each group, genotypes or insulin secretion there was no significant difference in weight change. This suggests that not insulin secretion or genotype can predict the success of a low-fat or low carb diet.

It is important to know that there was no significant difference in kcal consumed or in protein between the two groups. The low carb group did take 12 grams of protein more a day.

When you look at the fiber intake there was no significant difference either. The low-fat group did consume a bit more, probably because of the high carb intake.

The group that consumed lower carbohydrates did see that their cholesterol positively changed by roughly 5%.

Results of the study for weight loss

So what we all want to know right now, what were the results when it comes to weight loss. At the end of the study, the low carb group lost on average 13.2 pounds or 6 kilograms. The low-fat group lost 11.7 pounds or 5.3 kilograms.

Keep in mind that this weight loss was over a period of 12 months so the difference is not statistically significant or clinically relevant.

There is no practical advantage to either diet when you are just looking at weight loss.

Other diets compared for weight loss

A study looking at the Atkins, Zone, Ornish and LEARN diets found that among overweight premenopausal women there was a difference.

This study done in 2007 found that there is a greater weight loss for the women that followed the Atkins diet compared with the other groups.

The average weight loss for the Atkins diet after 12 months was -4.7 KG, while the Zone was -1.6 KG, Learn -2.6 KG and the Ornish diet -2.2 KG.

The group that followed the diet with the lowest carbohydrate intake lost more weight than the other diets.

There are still questions about the long-term effects and more research necessary to follow make this an alternative recommendation for weight loss. (x)

Note that this study was done for a specific group, overweight women that were premenopausal. So it might not be the best recommendation for everyone.

Especially since there are more studies out there (done with males and females) that concluded no significant difference.


So what does this tell us? This just adds to the already large pile of evidence. There is no superior diet when it comes to weight loss.

This is one of the larger studies surrounding this subject which helps to reduce the random errors.

To be honest this study shows that dieting comes down to a calorie deficit and personal preference. Maybe you do really well on a diet that is high in carbs or maybe you really love high fat.

This is both okay and will not stand in the way of your weight loss. As long as you are working on creating healthy habits, sustainable lifestyle and progressing a bit each day you are going the right way!

Sustainability for weight loss

Sustainability is something that I find most important, also when working with clients. Because I can put them on the best, scientifically proven, program.

But if they can’t sustain it is not worth it. So that is why you sometimes need to have a suboptimal plan. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it is true.

Dieting for weight loss, health and fitness are things where you need to look at the bigger picture. Short-term solutions will not work.

This not only goes for diet types, also for extreme cardio, fat burners, metabolism increases, or any type of supplement that promises you more fat loss.

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