Weight loss nutrition: low fat vs. low carb

  • rdberg1957

    Posts: 662

    May 28, 2016 12:32 PM GMT
    I've been noticing a difference between what is written in the topics section regarding nutrition and what members are saying in the forums about weight loss nutrition. Many members are talking about the benefits of a low carb approach while many of the dietitians who write for the topic section, especially H.K. Jones, dis a low carb approach in favor of a low fat, higher carb approach (with low sugar and whole grains). I've tried Weight Watchers and read Dean Ornish--I lost weight 50lbs when I was about 30, remained hungry and regained all the weight . I kept gaining weight and trying low-fat approaches. I ended up at 348lbs. I never tried low carb approaches to weight loss and ultimately had bariatric surgery eight years ago and lost 128lbs. The surgeon recommended a low carb diet of protein, vegetables, small amount of fruit, very little grain. Of course, I love carbs and started reintroducing them after several years and started regaining weight, going from 220-252 over a number of years.

    In April, I started working with a trainer who works with tennis players, and initially tried to track calories and was frustrated with zero progress as far as weight loss goes. I heard someone talk about a ketogenic diet, did some reading which told me that a ketogenic diet (high fat, moderate protein, very low carb) would not be good for me; as part of my bariatric surgery, my gall bladder was removed making it difficult to digest fat. But I decided to go back to the diet my surgeon recommended with some modifications, more fat than recommended by the dietitian associated with the surgeon, but not high fat, moderate protein, lots of vegetables, small amount of fruit, small amount of starchy carbohydrates, no sugar. Results after 1 week: weight loss started, no cravings, food is enjoyable, I can eat out at good restaurants without fear. I am at about 40% fat, 30% protein and 30% carbohydrates. I have plenty of energy for working out and playing tennis. My moods are more level. I am currently at 236lbs and don't anticipate major problems at continuing the weight loss. My trainer has recommended a weight between 200-210 which is actually what my surgeon predicted (207).

    Articles in the topics session also address sleep and stress as relevant to cravings, I concur. Meditation is also helpful for reducing cravings. Something else which appears to help is eating slowly in a somewhat meditative fashion. When I eat alone, I slow my eating down to give myself 20-30 minutes to eat (also recommended by the surgeon). Instead of eating being a source of tension, it is now a source of relaxation.

    What seems to be working for me is the following:

    1) low carb, moderate fat, moderate protein diet: no cravings, naturally stop when full, no need for snacks because I'm not hungry

    2) getting more sleep + meditation

    3) a good workout plan with supervision (for now) by a trainer.

    I don't believe that anyone is completely right or wrong when it comes to low-carb or low-fat. Some people may do better on low-fat, others on low-carb. My hypothesis is that people who are highly stressed and have difficulty regulating their moods do better on a low-carb diet. That highly stressed people have exaggerated responses to carbs (in some way) and have distressed moods which may be associated with food cravings which makes it difficult to adhere to a low-fat diet. Lowering the carbs, lowers the cravings, especially in combination with good sleep and meditation (yoga, other methods will do). Mood swings decrease. A calorie may be a calorie to you body, but not your brain. It is your brain which regulates responses to stress.

    My questions to forum members who have struggled with weight loss is this: What has worked for you to effect weight loss? What has your diet history been with respect to carbs and fat? What are you doing now to maintain the loss?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 31, 2016 10:50 PM GMT
    After a bad breakup I gained over 50 pounds of fat (over the course of a couple years). I kept fooling myself into thinking I was eating "healthy" and kept getting frustrated that I really wasn't seeing much of an improvement. I tried limiting my carbs to basically ketogenic, I tried the opposite approach by keeping my carbs reasonable but dropping my fats really low. Neither really worked. It was only when I downloaded an app to keep track of every single calorie (MyFitnessPal) I put into my body and made sure that I kept my calories at a deficit that I noticed significant progress.

    It really is just about caloric deficit. You don't need to over complicate it. Just track every single calorie that goes into your body and make sure that you don't have a surplus and you'll lean out.
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    Jun 01, 2016 7:15 AM GMT
    I read a book that explained the glycemic index diet, which is simply about eating foods that have a low glycemic index. If you follow the paleo diet it's essentially a glycemic index diet since it requires you to shun starches and fruits and sugars, all of which have a higher glycemic index compared to vegetables (meats and fats have no/0 glycemic index). The advantage of eating foods with a low glycemic index is that your blood sugar doesn't jump around but stays more even.

    I suspect that if you followed jackedgamer's plan of simply counting calories and also made a point of reducing your consumption of all foods that don't have a low glycemic index, then dieting would be easier.
  • fixedpole

    Posts: 4

    Jun 01, 2016 8:48 AM GMT
    More and more evidence tells us that it's actually genetically defined what you'll do best on. You can get all kinds of genetic testing that should be able to uncover this for you. I've not done the testing myself but I was on low-carb for years, it worked fine regarding keeping at the right weight but my sex drive suffered (major problem for many people on low carb) and it didn't feel completely right for me. Now I've completely changed my approach. Eats a lot of carbohydrates (mainly rice, potatoes), moderate protein (lean chicken, seafood) and relatively low fat (udos choice, olive oil, avocados and other healthy stuff). Seems to work much better for me. I've been losing fat even faster even while stuffing my head with white rice, I feel a lot better and more satisfied. Sex drive is through the roof. Would be interesting to do some of the genetic testing one day but I think it's still fairly expensive.
  • badbug

    Posts: 800

    Jun 01, 2016 10:44 PM GMT
    It really is just about caloric deficit

    No it's not.

    We know all medications don't work the same for all people just as we know not all foods (calories) cause the same reactions in all people. Saying it's just about calories is silly. 2000 calories of broccoli and carrots is going to have a totally different effect than 2000 calories of dextrose.

    If it was just about calories, bodybuilders would just drink kool-aid all day.

    What you eat matters. Finding out how your specific body reacts to what you eat can be important.


    You can get all kinds of genetic testing


    You can, but only charlatans will claim to give you ideal diets based on the results of these tests. It's witchcraft under the guise of science.
  • mcbrion

    Posts: 305

    Jun 02, 2016 7:06 PM GMT
    rdberg1957 saidI've been noticing a difference between what is written in the topics section regarding nutrition and what members are saying in the forums about weight loss nutrition. Many members are talking about the benefits of a low carb approach while many of the dietitians who write for the topic section, especially H.K. Jones, dis a low carb approach in favor of a low fat, higher carb approach (with low sugar and whole grains). I've tried Weight Watchers and read Dean Ornish--I lost weight 50lbs when I was about 30, remained hungry and regained all the weight . I kept gaining weight and trying low-fat approaches. I ended up at 348lbs. I never tried low carb approaches to weight loss and ultimately had bariatric surgery eight years ago and lost 128lbs. The surgeon recommended a low carb diet of protein, vegetables, small amount of fruit, very little grain. Of course, I love carbs and started reintroducing them after several years and started regaining weight, going from 220-252 over a number of years.

    In April, I started working with a trainer who works with tennis players, and initially tried to track calories and was frustrated with zero progress as far as weight loss goes. I heard someone talk about a ketogenic diet, did some reading which told me that a ketogenic diet (high fat, moderate protein, very low carb) would not be good for me; as part of my bariatric surgery, my gall bladder was removed making it difficult to digest fat. But I decided to go back to the diet my surgeon recommended with some modifications, more fat than recommended by the dietitian associated with the surgeon, but not high fat, moderate protein, lots of vegetables, small amount of fruit, small amount of starchy carbohydrates, no sugar. Results after 1 week: weight loss started, no cravings, food is enjoyable, I can eat out at good restaurants without fear. I am at about 40% fat, 30% protein and 30% carbohydrates. I have plenty of energy for working out and playing tennis. My moods are more level. I am currently at 236lbs and don't anticipate major problems at continuing the weight loss. My trainer has recommended a weight between 200-210 which is actually what my surgeon predicted (207).

    Articles in the topics session also address sleep and stress as relevant to cravings, I concur. Meditation is also helpful for reducing cravings. Something else which appears to help is eating slowly in a somewhat meditative fashion. When I eat alone, I slow my eating down to give myself 20-30 minutes to eat (also recommended by the surgeon). Instead of eating being a source of tension, it is now a source of relaxation.

    What seems to be working for me is the following:

    1) low carb, moderate fat, moderate protein diet: no cravings, naturally stop when full, no need for snacks because I'm not hungry

    2) getting more sleep + meditation

    3) a good workout plan with supervision (for now) by a trainer.

    I don't believe that anyone is completely right or wrong when it comes to low-carb or low-fat. Some people may do better on low-fat, others on low-carb. My hypothesis is that people who are highly stressed and have difficulty regulating their moods do better on a low-carb diet. That highly stressed people have exaggerated responses to carbs (in some way) and have distressed moods which may be associated with food cravings which makes it difficult to adhere to a low-fat diet. Lowering the carbs, lowers the cravings, especially in combination with good sleep and meditation (yoga, other methods will do). Mood swings decrease. A calorie may be a calorie to you body, but not your brain. It is your brain which regulates responses to stress.

    My questions to forum members who have struggled with weight loss is this: What has worked for you to effect weight loss? What has your diet history been with respect to carbs and fat? What are you doing now to maintain the loss?


    The regimen you quote is exactly that of Barry Sears, who wrote 'The Zone Diet' back in 1994 or thereabouts. He allowed that athletes need carbs for energy, but to keep the ratio of bad (read: high glycemic = fat storage) carbs to good carbs (low glycemic = no storage as fatty tissue) as 75% good carbs, 25% "bad" (you could have ice cream or dessert). His regimen was 40/30/30 also. I experimented with his diet, and it worked rather well, so it seems you've stumbled onto it on your own. Congratulations! Sounds like it's working great for you. (It works for others, too, but it's not as popular as it was in 1995).
  • mcbrion

    Posts: 305

    Jun 02, 2016 7:13 PM GMT
    Lumpyoatmeal saidI read a book that explained the glycemic index diet, which is simply about eating foods that have a low glycemic index. If you follow the paleo diet it's essentially a glycemic index diet since it requires you to shun starches and fruits and sugars, all of which have a higher glycemic index compared to vegetables (meats and fats have no/0 glycemic index). The advantage of eating foods with a low glycemic index is that your blood sugar doesn't jump around but stays more even.

    I suspect that if you followed jackedgamer's plan of simply counting calories and also made a point of reducing your consumption of all foods that don't have a low glycemic index, then dieting would be easier.


    The glycemic index shouldn't advocate NO fruits, given an apple's glycemic index is 38 (VERY low), oranges the same as apples. Watermelon is high glycemic index, but has a low glycemic load (the other half of the equation that nutritionists seem completely unaware of). And carrots! Raw carrots' glycemic index is 38 (again, very low, but cook those suckers and it rockets up to 78 (VERY HIGH), because they caramelize during cooking and sugar is released.

    You might trying looking at www.mendosa.com, which was the first site I ever saw that explained the glycemic index - in 1995. And it has lists of what is high, medium and low glycemic - AND, he did this for different countries. Coca Cola's glycemic index in Australia is much lower than that of the US, so it must mean there's less sugar (sure tasted like it when I visited Australia!)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 03, 2016 12:31 AM GMT
    badbug said

    Saying it's just about calories is silly. 2000 calories of broccoli and carrots is going to have a totally different effect than 2000 calories of dextrose.


    Well, it depends on the effect you're looking to see. Body fat loss, in this instance, depends ONLY on caloric defecit. It doesn't matter whether it's 2000 calories of vegetables or 2000 calories of pizza, it's not going to cause a caloric deficit for most people.

    badbug saidIf it was just about calories, bodybuilders would just drink kool-aid all day.


    Again, to achieve which effect? If the goal is building muscle, then of course a sizable portion of those calories need to be protein. You're talking apples and oranges here. Hell, you're talking apples and pencils.

    badbug saidYou can, but only charlatans will claim to give you ideal diets based on the results of these tests. It's witchcraft under the guise of science.


    This is correct.
  • maxferguson

    Posts: 321

    Jul 08, 2016 2:07 AM GMT
    In my experience (at least when I was swimming competitively and training full time), low fat hasn't entirely worked. If you must do low fat, avoid "low fat" products and just choose whole foods with a naturally lower fat content. You'll notice the sugar content on most of those products is higher; this is how they make up for the reduced flavor.

    That said, I found low carb also left me feeling more tired. The trick was to eat lower on the glycemic index, not fewer carbs (although you can obviously eat less carbs, but by eating lower on the GI you don't have to cut out as much as you thought).
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    Jul 08, 2016 2:26 AM GMT
    Deep fried Twinkies for the win. Even better is deep fried Oreos. (In either case, deep fried in lard, of course.)