Last week, I wrote about a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association where a low carb diet and low fat diet were shown to be equally effective at weight loss. While the diet in the study was too high in carbs to be considered a true weight loss level of a low carb diet, I have had some great questions, including “If both low carb and low fat diets are ‘equally’ effective, why should I pick a low carb diet over a low fat diet?”
The answer is simple. When you follow a low carb diet like Atkins, fat is your friend, and here’s why:
Fat fills you up. Fat is satiating, which means it keeps you fuller for longer and means you’re less likely to overeat. It actually takes twice as many calories from refined carbs than from fats to provide the same level of fullness. In other words, that sugar-filled, fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt might not satisfy your appetite, leaving you hungry for more, while full-fat Greek yogurt topped with berries fills you up until your next meal or snack.
- Fat curbs your carb cravings. Dietary fat slows down the release of glucose into the blood, which keeps your blood sugar in check. This means no blood sugar highs and lows, and that reduces your carb cravings. That 3pm energy slump (and consequent cookie cravings) becomes a thing of the past!
- Fat helps you burn fat. When your body uses fat, instead of glucose for fuel, as you do while you’re on a well-constructed low carb diet, it’s a metabolic process called lipolysis, and this is what jumpstarts fat burning in your body—both dietary fat and stored fat. Good-bye muffin top and beer belly.
- Fat tastes good. Fat carries flavor, which makes food more satisfying. You may feel like you’re indulging when dinner is a delicious grass-fed steak and vegetables sautéed in olive oil and topped with a drizzle of melted butter, but after that flavor festival, you certainly won’t feel like over-indulging.
A low carb diet is better than a low fat diet because the whole-food healthy fats, including saturated fats, that you eat a low carb diet help you lose weight and maintain your weight loss. But, I don’t want to talk just about fat. What makes a low carb diet like Atkins so effective is the combination of macronutrients that you eat that work so well together… dietary fat; healthy sources of protein, which is also filling, great for boosting your metabolism and preserving lean muscle tissue; and antioxidant-rich colorful vegetables, which naturally regulate your cholesterol and are full of fiber. Eating this way means you’re less hungry and definitely more satisfied, and it’s good for your health.