Low Carb vs. Low Calorie Diet for Weight Loss

low carb vs low calorie diet

When it comes to the most effective diets to lose weight, people often compare a low carb vs. low calorie diet. These diet plans differ in so many ways, but their goal is the same, and that is to help people shed some pounds.

A lot of people have greatly benefited from low carb diets like keto when it comes to losing weight, but some people find a low calorie diet more effective for them.

Related reading: 5 Amazing Health Benefits of a Keto Diet

If you’re looking to lose weight, but can’t decide whether you should restrict carbs or calories, then check out this comparison of low carb vs. low calorie diets.

Related reading: The Paleo Diet: Beyond Calorie Counting

What Is a Low Carb Diet?

Low-carb diets have been around for a long time, but it’s only recently that people are adopting this type of eating plan for weight loss. There are different types of low carb diets out there such as very low carb, low carb and medium carb but the approach is pretty much the same. They all aim to lower your consumption of carbohydrates.

Related reading: How Many Carbs Do You Need To Eat To Lose Weight?

This means avoiding or limiting your consumption of foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, pulses, peas, corn, bananas, apples, mangoes, dried fruit and more.

Related reading: How Carbohydrates Contribute To Weight Gain

Depending on the type of low carb diet that you follow, you will be limited to less than 100 grams of carbs a day. The rest of the calories will come from healthy fats and good quality protein.

Related reading: Does a Low Carb Diet Work for Weight Loss?

With a keto diet, dieters are only allowed to consume about 15 to 30 grams of carbs per day. Since you will deprive your body of carbs which provides blood glucose it will switch from using glucose for energy to burning fats instead. As a result, you will start losing weight.

Related reading: What are the Basic Rules of Keto Diet?

Although the biggest benefit of the low carb diets is to help people to lose weight, it also comes with several health benefits. According to Dr. Monali Y. Desai, a cardiologist based in New York City,

“Low carb diets could help reduce your risk for diseases like diabetes because you’re cutting unhealthy high-carb foods from your diet, which helps lower your blood sugar levels.”

Pros and Cons of a Low Carb Diet

To compare low carb vs. low calorie diet, it would help if we take a look at the pros and cons of each of these diet plans. Here are the pros and cons of a low carb diet.


  • Many people experience rapid weight loss.
  • It eliminates unhealthy processed foods and sugar from the diet.
  • Dieters do not usually need to keep track of their calories.
  • It helps people to feel full longer and minimizes unhealthy cravings.
  • Low carb recipes and meals can be delicious and easy to prepare.
  • There are several different types of low carb diets to choose from.
  • It comes with many other health benefits including reducing blood sugar levels, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.


  • Some people end up consuming a high level of unhealthy fats.
  • The diet eliminates healthy whole grains and legumes, which have nutritional benefits.
  • It’s highly restrictive and difficult to maintain for some people.
  • May come with side effects especially in the initial stage.

What Is A Low Calorie Diet?

A low-calorie diet is the type of diet that requires followers to limit their daily intake of calories. The calories usually vary depending on gender.

For men, they must limit their calories to 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day while women are limited to 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day. To achieve rapid weight loss, some people would limit their daily calories to only 800 or even less.

Low calorie diet experiment

This level of calories was used by UK Doctor Michael Mosley for a TV program where 5 volunteers wanted to lose weight and get their health back on track after the coronvirus lockdown.

The change in diet and the inclusion of various exercises enabled them to lose 14 pounds in 21 days. This 800 calorie, low carb diet quickly lowered their BMI, blood glucose, improved insulin resistance and pre-diabetes markers. It does of course result in reduced waist measurements and weight loss.

They volunteers were so happy with the results that they were encouraged to remain on a  healthy diet with more calories.

Keeping the weight off 

This is key to keeping weight off after dieting. So often people drift back to their old unhealthy eating and drinking patterns and the weight just piles on again and more in many cases.

The Harvard Health Publishing has recommended a process to compute the ideal amount of calories one should consume in a day to maintain his or her current weight, which is done by multiplying your current weight by 15.

For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, then you need to consume 2,250 daily in order to maintain such weight. So if you wanted to lose weight, then you need to lower that amount to 500 – 1,000 calories in a day.

Since a pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, shaving off 500 calories each day could help you lose one pound of weight in a week.

Special diet products

Some people resort to eating special foods such as low-calorie shakes, bars, and soups instead of eating a regular meal to restrict their daily calorie consumption. This approach does not help people to make healthy food choices.

The gut microbiome, those organisms that reside in our guts, need to be supported with real food to function efficiently and control weight.

Related reading: Is A Low Carb Diet Bad For Your Gut Bacteria?

Taking all that into account if you burn more calories than you take in the low calorie approach can help you to lose weight. In fact, followers of the low-calorie diet have reported losing up to 5 lbs. of weight per week.

Pros and Cons of a Low Calorie Diet


  • Calorie information is easily available these days so it’s much easier to track.
  • The diet does not eliminate any food group.
  • You can eat regular food that’s easily available in your supermarket.
  • It’s safer than low carb diets since it does not come with any side effects.
  • The diet is much easier to maintain since it is not very restrictive.


  • Consuming fewer calories than you are used to can easily lead to hunger.
  • You need to carefully keep track of each of the calories you consume, which can be tedious and time-consuming.
  • Restricting calories can make some people feel anxious and neurotic when they end up consuming too much.
  • Many low calorie diet regimes don’t teach healthy eating. They allow unhealthy ingredients like sugar and white flour with the result that cravings are not controlled.

Low Carb vs. Low Calorie Diet 

Which Diet Plan Is Better for Weight Loss?

Although both the low carb diet and low calorie diet can help people lose weight, several studies show that low carb diets can cause more rapid weight loss compared to low calorie diets.

However, the biggest challenge is in keeping the weight off and maintaining weight loss. Therefore, when deciding between low carb vs. low calorie diets, you should go for the diet plan that you feel you could stick to for the long run.

Related reading: Is it Hard to Stick to a Low Carb Diet?

If you find counting calories easy to do, then you can go for the low calorie diet but make sure they are healthy calories.

But if you don’t want to go through the hassle of keeping track of every single calorie you consume, a low-carb diet will be more effective for you.

With a low carb diet, you can usually eat as many low carb foods as you want without worrying about the calories. As long as these foods are low in carbs and you eat the proper ratio of healthy fat, protein and carbs you should be fine.

So have you come to any conclusion about a low carb diet vs low calorie diet?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.