low carb vs. low cal : the latest on weight loss


If you're trying to lose weight, the smorgasbord of information can be intimidating. With countless diets, fads, and trendy new "it" foods spring up seemingly overnight, how do you know what actually works?

Low-carb and low-cal diets have both been around for decades, and they're two of the most popular weight loss methods out there.

But which one is best for your body while still offering the results that you crave? An excellent new study from the Annals of Internal Medicine sorts out the facts.

The Study

So, what is this study we're mentioning?

The results of this study, and many like it, might surprise you and reveal all you need to know for fulfilling your weight-loss journey.

Tulane University wanted to get the bottom of the "low carb vs. low cal" mystery once and for all, so they cut straight to the chase, assigning 148 obese men and women to new diets for an entire year.

Both test groups were healthy, no signs of heart disease or diabetes were present in any of the participants. One group followed a low-carb diet, while the other group went low-cal (1).

Study Results

The results are astounding.

While those who cut calories did lose weight, the low carb dieters beat their results by a landslide, losing an average of 7.7 pounds more.

In addition, their levels of fat mass and cardiovascular risk-factors plummeted, leaving them less in danger of developing serious, potentially life-threatening diseases. That wasn't found in the low-cal participants, however; risk levels remained the same as before they started their diets.

What does this tell us about the low carb vs. low cal. debate? A lot.

How Many Carbs are Considered Low Carb?

What's even better news for dieters looking to drop the pounds? A low-carb diet is easier to follow than you think.

During the study, participants limited their carb intake to 40 grams per day (about four slices of bread), which isn't just perfectly doable, but also aligns wonderfully with every low-carb diet out there, including the ketogenic diet.

The amount of carbs needed to enter ketosis varies by individual, but it ranges between 20 and 100 grams daily. For most people, 20-50 grams is typical, leaving the 40 grams consumed during this study well within reach!

The mystery has finally been solved; if you want to lose weight, low-carb is the way to go.

We have the scientific evidence to back it up.

The Benefits of Fat

Because the keto diet focuses on high fat intake, this study has proven other benefits for dieters, too, demonstrating that fat does indeed aid in weight loss (2).

When dieters replaced those not-so-good-for-you carbs with healthy fats, such as fish, nuts, avocados, eggs, cooking oils, and butter -just to name a few- they lost more weight.

These healthy fats are not only helpful for weight loss.

They help reduce factors that lead to heart disease, including high blood pressure. And if cardiovascular issues are a worry for you, increasing your fat intake can significantly lower your risk.

Low-carb diets, including keto, recommend consuming 83-125 grams of fats per day. When you assemble a savory meal plan, you can create an endless variety of filling, flavorful, and delicious choices.

The conclusion of the study states:

"The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors." (2)


(1) Bazzano, L. A., Hu, T., Reynolds, K., Yao, L., Bunol, C., Liu, Y., … He, J. (2014). Effects of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 161(5), 309. https://doi.org/10.7326/M14-0180.

(2) Shai, I., Schwarzfuchs, D., Henkin, Y., Shahar, D. R., Witkow, S., Greenberg, I., … Stampfer, M. J. (2008). Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, mediterranean, or low-fat diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(3), 229–241. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa0708681.

(3) Sondike, S. B., Copperman, N., & Jacobson, M. S. (2003). Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight adolescents. The Journal of Pediatrics, 142(3), 253–258. https://doi.org/10.1067/mpd.

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