Low fat diets for weight loss have been getting bad press lately and the latest buzz word in diet circles is the ketogenic diet or keto diet for short. Although the ketogenic diet has been around for some years for the treatment of epilepsy it’s becoming popular for other reasons due to fact that celebrities such as Megan Fox, Mick Jagger, and Adriana Lima are said to be following it.
So, what’s the difference between a keto diet and a low fat diet plan? While many may swear about reducing fat intake, studies show low carb plans like the keto diet are actually more effective for both weight loss and reducing high cholesterol.
Related reading: How a Low Carb High Fat Diet Affects your Cholesterol
There are several types of low carbohydrate diets around, but the ketogenic diet generally limits your carb intake to 20 to 50 grams a day. The ketogenic diet requires you to get into the state of ketosis, and that generally does not occur unless you are consuming about 20 grams of carbohydrates per day.
A sample menu plan when you’re on a ketogenic diet looks like this:
Breakfast: bacon or sausage, eggs, and coffee with cream and stevia
Snack: 1 ounce of cheese with cucumbers or celery
Lunch: Tuna salad or egg salad wrapped in lettuce or lettuce wrapped good quality meat burger
Snack: ½ avocado or 10 olives or flaxseed crackers with salsa
Dinner: Cajun chicken with green veggies cooked in butter or steak with vegetables in butter or salad with olive oil and vinegar or grilled salmon with a side of spiral cut zucchini “pasta” with sauce
Snacks between meals can also include cheese, a cup of chicken broth, 6 almonds or walnuts, turkey lettuce wraps, hard-boiled eggs, smaller portions of leftover meals, 1 tablespoon of cream and even a keto friendly brownie!
Low Fat Versus Low Carb
Feeling Satisfied and Avoiding Hunger
The ketogenic diet may seem restrictive initially but you are actually able to a wide variety of real, whole, and delicious food with lots of satisfying meats like chicken, seafood, cheese, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. You will feel much more satisfied eating a low carb diet than eating a low fat diet. This is because fat keeps your stomach feeling fuller for longer.
It is easier to follow than a low fat diet because low carb eating regulates the appetite, and naturally satisfies you so you automatically eat less. You don’t feel deprived or starved. Eliminating carbs also eliminates erratic blood sugar spikes that cause out of control cravings and hunger.
Long Term Sustainability
The overall success of any weight loss plan is the individual’s ability to keep the weight off after the diet has come to an end. The problem with most diets is that people do them for short term weight loss but so often feel deprived or hungry that they are unable to carry the diet on for the long term. It really has to become a way of life it is to be successful.
In this way a low carb diet like the keto diet wins over a low fat diet because when individuals are feeling satisfied and not suffering hunger pangs the probability of long-term success increases considerably. This is one of the reasons that low carb is a lifestyle and not just a temporary diet.
What The Studies Show
A study by the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina set out to compare the effects of a low fat diet versus a ketogenic diet program.
What they discovered over 24 weeks that not only did the low carbohydrate diet retain more of the participants than the low fat group did, but they also lost more weight, and had a bigger decrease in triglyceride (blood fat) levels.
A low fat diet is generally a temporary diet, one that you cannot sustain because there are too many temptations to give in to; the ketogenic diet does not restrict you to the same level so it is easier to maintain on a long-term basis.
That means the weight you lose stays lost, and is the reason that low carb is a lifestyle and not just another fad diet.
More Studies Support Low Carb Diets Over Low Fat
Since 2002, more than 20 randomized controlled trials have been published in respected, peer-reviewed journals that demonstrate the fact that low carb diets are more effective for weight loss and completely safe without a single adverse effect, this cannot be said about many of the fad diets.
Several studies, including one published as long ago as 2004 in Nutrition & Metabolism by Volek et al have shown low carb eating to lead to more weight loss, and especially visceral fat (belly fat), and to improve HDL cholesterol, insulin levels, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure as compared to low fat plans.
The above studies and others support the fact that low carb wins over low fat in weight loss and reducing risks for heart disease. Of course, you should always ask the advice of your doctor before starting any diet plan.