Low-fat versus low-carb diets

This is an interesting (and LONG) article on low fat vs low carb diets.

My reaction is here…

I have never really been a fan of “fat free” or “light” foods. The popular media message marketing low-fat foods has been drilled into us, saying “Fat is bad” and if you’re on a low-fat diet, you have really no choice but to eat high-carb foods. This has for a long time been the culturally accepted way to diet in order to lose weight. “Low fat” has been the mantra for a long time, so it makes sense that people have started to rely on grains instead of meats and turned toward sugars instead of fats.

It seems to me that the low-carb high-protein diets swing completely the other way, compared to more traditional weight-loss diets. Instead of cutting out fat, they say “Eat all the fat you want, especially if it will keep you from eating carbs”. This is probably a great way to lose weight, but it doesn’t seem balanced, and my gut reaction (heh) is that unbalancing the scales completely the other way is not great either.

However, when I approach the question of “How do I eat right”, most sources say “Eat a balanced diet”. This includes the government’s own Food Pyramid, etc. If I don’t really want to lose weight as much as just eat healthy, a balanced approach is probably not a bad idea. It also seems to me that vegetables have been sort of forgotten in the fight between fats/meats and sugars/grains…

So, I might sum up my reaction to the low-fat vs. low-carb controversy by saying that we have demonized fats for 20+ years, we can probably live with watching our carbs and not being so paranoid about fats. However, turning around and demonizing carbs and totally overdoing it on the fat is probably not the true answer either.

I had a friend who I used to work with who was on the very-low-carb diet for a long time. He lost a lot of weight. So, I know it works, but it’s probably not great for a long-term lifestyle change. (Sadly, he also lost his job due to a layoff and was very close to losing his house, and ended up taking his own life. He had been keeping track of his weight loss and it turns out that he lost weight much quicker in the 2-3 weeks right before his suicide, so I can’t help but wonder if the diet was a contributing factor to his depression.)

On a more positive note, I have been doing well on my own diet, nothing dramatic, but I have lost about 8 pounds last month and about 8 pounds the month before that. I haven’t really fundamentally changed my diet, I am trying to eat mostly the same foods, just not to eat as much. And, I have been exercising about every other day for half an hour. So, it’s not dramatic weight loss, but I’m not really looking for dramatic, I’m looking for some incremental changes I can make that I can live with for the rest of my life.

0 thoughts on “Low-fat versus low-carb diets

  1. merlinofchaos

    It’s worth commenting on that, in the article you posted, the author does mention vegetables as basically being the safest carbohydrates out there — they are almost universally complex carbs, which means they take longer to absorb into the system and have much less effect on the insulin levels.

    Reading this article has actually helped fire me up to return to a low-carbish diet. Though perhaps not with the religious ferver of the last time I tried it, but then I’ve always tried to be relatively moderate anyway. I’ve always felt that regardless of the carbos, it is important to try to moderate the bad fats — but then I try to use a lot of olive oil and peanut oil when I use oils, and I eat a lot of meat by nature. The only ‘bad fat’ I tend to eat is a lot of dairy, and I’ve always had trouble believing the popular shift: When I was little, Milk Was Good.

    Now the only people who tell you Milk Is Good is the Dairy Council.

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