Low carb vs low calories

Just trolling through the web and it appears that people are still arguing over different approaches to diet, so let me set things straight…

(Fat loss goals)

Low carb vs low calories

(obviously there are other approaches, but let’s keep things simple).

Now this is coming from someone who has looked extensively into both in great detail, and has used both approaches with myself and with 100s of clients, this is what we know as fact, let’s ignore the bullshit and focus on the facts.

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Low carb:

Pro - No negative health impact as long as you choose your carbs wisely (fiberus vegetables).

Pro - When you avoid glucose (sugar), it prevents you from eating a range of foods that will have a negative health impact.

Pro - When you reduce your carbs you inevitably eat more protein and fat, foods that contain a decent amount of protein and fat are generally more satiating, so it’s really difficult to overeat these foods.

Pro - It generally gets people eating foods that are a lot more nutrient dense.

Con - Carbs taste nice, very nice. I mean, have you tried the new “Walkers Tear and Share, Cheddar Cheese and Onion Crisps” No? Well they taste awesome! 

Con - It’s a difficult approach if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.

Con - If fat loss slows down it can be difficult to see why if you’re not tracking calories.


Low calories:

If you want to lose fat then you need to be burning more calories than you’re consuming (fact!!).

Counting calories is not always needed, however, if you’re struggling to lose fat you’re not counting calories then this is insane, a calorie is simply a unit of measurable energy, we can use it as a tool when leaning out. 

Pro - Calories are the biggest factor when it comes to fat loss.

Pro - Easier to track macro ratios.

Pro - You can be flexible with your nutrition.

Pro - Easy to tweak calorie intake if results slow down.

Con - Lot’s of people need more structure than simply counting calories, when we just count calories we choose foods that taste nice, but are not always nutrient dense, this can lead to health issues long term.

Con - When losing fat, some people who count calories end up eating less and less until they hit a brick wall and their health, hormones and energy levels suffer.

Con - Can lead to unhealthy relationship with food

Lot’s of Pros and Cons to each, so my advice? I recommend an element of the two (less carbs generally for fat loss and track the caloric intake) and I find this most effective and sustainable for my clients.

If you just focus on calories you’ll end up eating shit!

If you just reduce your carbs you might find yourself disheartened and confused when the fat loss plateaus.

Whichever way you decide to go, I (and many other health/fitness professionals) believe there are two key things…structure & consistency. People need structure - carb cycling, high protein, low carb, paleo, atkins, keto, all these do provide structure where there was none previously and inevitably put you in a caloric deficit.

The best diet for you is the one you can stick with long term.

Having said all this, surely the end goal is for you to have a body shape that you’re happy with and to be in the position where eating clean (with the odd treat) is a simple part of your lifestyle, this way you will always maintain a good, strong, healthy body shape.