Cut Carbs or Calories: Science Based Evidence

By | March 23, 2018

Cut Carbs or Calories: Effective Ways to Lose Weight

The quest for weight-loss isn’t new; human beings are still trying to discover the best methods to melt extra pounds. Since the inception of meal plans such as the Paleo or the Ketogenic diet, a prominent new topic of debate is “Carbs or calories? Which is the real devil?” The opinions regarding the subject are quite contradicting. Both sides think that their supporting arguments are correct, but how do we select the best option? Do we cut on calories or carbs to lose weight? Well, let’s look at the benefits and cons of both diets and try to discover which one may suit you better.

Cut Carbs or Calories

The Science behind Low-Calorie Diets

According to the fundamental law of science, you need to burn more calories than you are consuming to lose weight. It means that if you want to lose some pounds, you will have to keep a strict check on your caloric intake. According to experts counting calories may lead to eating disorders. If you were to count each calorie you consumed, it might become an unhealthy obsession.

Pros and Cons of Lowering Caloric Intake for Weight Loss

Most low-calorie diet plans either require you to eliminate many common foods from your diet or continue eating a high amount of the same low-calorie foods. Such diet plans are suitable for people with a BMI higher than 30, that too under medical supervision. These diets may prove to be useful for some medical conditions that are related to obesity such as diabetes, cholesterol or high blood pressure. But the problem lies in the long-term effects. Retaining weight-loss after going off such diets is difficult and requires you to make strict lifestyle changes.

Why Are Carbs Unhealthy?

After the clean eating campaign came to light, carbs have become the food group most people fear and consider unhealthy. It is because they can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar, but are all carbohydrates bad? Well no. When we talk about carbs, we get to know that there are two kinds: the healthy carbohydrates and the bad ones.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

The good carbs are the complex ones; they take longer to break down and thus are a consistent source of energy. Some simple carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables are also beneficial for our health. On the other hand, bad carbs are the ones found in processed foods such as candies, cakes, biscuits, etc.

Similarly, if you talk about grains, then the brown counterparts are much healthier than the white ones. It is because the nutritious fiber from the white varieties is removed.

The Mechanism behind Low-Carb Diets

Carbs are the primary resource that acts as a fuel and provide energy to perform daily tasks. When our body doesn’t get the required amount of carbs, it enters into a state called ketosis. In ketosis, the excess fat in the liver is broken down and utilized as a form of energy, which is why low-carb diets lead to rapid weight loss. Specific regimes such as the Ketogenic plan require you to eat a high amount of saturated fat and protein which may seem unhealthy. But there is another twist; some diets such as the Atkins 40 allow you to eat the “good” carbs in moderate amounts. Since various high-carbohydrate foods are high in calories, you will also be lowering your caloric intake while restricting carbs.

A common reason behind the popularity of low-carb diets is their ability to show fast results. But if you talk about the effects in the more extended run, then people on either of the two plans showed the same amount of weight loss, as revealed by research. However, those who were on a low-carb diet showed an increase in HDL cholesterol. Hence low-carb diets do get a slight edge over the low-calorie ones, but what primarily matters in both cases is your lifestyle. Adopting healthy habits and making wise decisions is essential to lose and keep off the extra pounds in the long run.

About The Author

Kelly Newman is a Fitness Trainer and blogger. She loves to write about everything related to fitness and diet and wants to help people adopt a healthier lifestyle. She works with the team behind Health Listed and does extensive research to provide people actionable health and nutrition information.

9 thoughts on “Cut Carbs or Calories: Science Based Evidence

  1. Rich Johnson

    I love reading ideas about loosing weight. I recently came across revitalU coffee.
    Have you heard of it?
    All natural ingredientsa dn tasts goog too!

  2. Matts Mom

    Yes, I know I need to cut carbs for sure. But they are sooo good! I don’t eat very many sweets. But I do love pasta and potatoes and bread. Hard to stay away. Which carbs are the best to eat? I love beans, and was thinking this might be a more healthy alternative?

    1. Steven Varley Post author

      Hi Matts Mom,

      Carbs aren’t “unhealthy” in moderation. I do have to agree carbs are so nice! try swapping white for brown. I.e brown bread for white, brown rice and pasta instead of the counterparts.

      Also, try using sweet potatoes. Not only is it yummy its lower on the Glycemic index!

  3. Jasmere

    I like this article because it really hits home for me. I’ve been going to the gym for about 10 years and I’ve tried it all in terms of diets. Like you said, the one thing I’d notice is that yeah you’d lose weight from cutting carbs, but the benefits would would plateu really fast. Through lots carb reduction, manipulation, etc I personally found it didn’t make too much of a difference at the end of the day. So it’s interesting to see research that supports that. I still think calories at the end of the day will always be king in that regard.

    1. Steven Varley Post author

      Hi Jasmere,

      It really is a game of two halves. Too many calories will certainly see a rise in weight. However, Not all calories are equal. For instance, let’s say a large pizza is 600 calories.

      From that pizza, the nutritional benefits are not great. In fact, you could split that into 3 small meals that would provide more benefits and keep you fuller longer.

      Also, carbs hold more calories than protein and fat.Using this information you could be really clever with meal planning. What do you think to this?

  4. Melissa

    Thank you for the wonderful information. I am one of those trying to loose weight. I have heard of cutting the bad carbs and this being helpful. But I was confused on what was bad carbs and good carbs so thank you for helping to clearing this up. I will take a closer look from now on.

  5. Brittaney

    I think you’ve got the right idea here in your article and I appreciate that you stayed unbiased when comparing both types of eating. I have known people who have taken each approach and found very similar success.

    From all the reading I have done, ultimately they are very similar in regards to results, and your overall lifestyle and lifestyle changes are really what are going to determine your overall success with weight loss.

    Great post!


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