Searching for the answer to the question of which of the two diets is better is not a new problem. Already after 1860, American entrepreneur William Banting praised the benefits of carbohydrate reduction – writing that he did not feel hunger on such a diet and lost 20 kg a year, even though he was 66 years old. The beginning of the 20th century was dominated by studies showing the ergogenic properties of carbohydrates, but in the 1970s Fatty Revolution of Dr. Atkins occurred. About 10 years later, government recommendations began to direct fat reduction in the diet, which was the result of many studies showing a correlation between fat intake and obesity and the development of civilization diseases. Currently, it seems that the popularization of the paleo diet and ketogenic diet has again started the trend of carbohydrate demonization.
The discussion about which of the two diets is better is characterized by the fierceness of both sides, which brings very good arguments to the discussion. In this article many doubts will be dispelled, however, the main aspect discussed will be the effect on the composition of the figure, in particular for fat burning.
What is deposited as fat
According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy can not be created or destroyed. From this perspective, a calorie is equal to calories and no caloric-balanced diet is better than another. However, the human body is more than a closed system and the food consumed, in addition to providing energy, causes variable physiological effects.
For example, after the consumption of carbohydrates, the level of sugar in the blood grows, but their too high increase could pose a health risk, which is why the body releases insulin. This hormone helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. However, carbohydrates can not be effectively converted into fats, which is why they are directed to the muscles where they are used as a source of energy – thus they displace fat burning.
By limiting the number of carbohydrates in the meal, we allow ourselves to maintain a high rate of fat burning, but at the same time, we are forced to eat more fat in order not to starve.
The best example of the above dependences is the study by Dr. Kevin Hall, who gave the participants two different diets and using the metabolic chamber to study the exact amount of fat used as energy.
The results of this study can be interpreted in two ways. In the fat diet, more fat was used as energy, but the carbohydrate diet fatter was burned than the diet provided.
The truth, however, is always in the middle. As the author of the study notes, if the calories and protein are maintained at the same level, the increase of one of the two macronutrients causes the balance of fat reaching fat tissue remains unchanged.
The important role of protein
Although we find many testimonies of people who have succeeded in slimming both fat and carbohydrate diets – to perform a tangible comparison, it is best to refer to scientific research. Below are some examples along with the specified diet specifications.
At first glance, the fat diet beats the carbohydrate diet, but there is a shortcoming. Diets are sometimes unbalanced in terms of calories, and the balance of protein is less frequent.
It is a secret weapon of the fast diet because many foods rich in fat also contain a lot of protein. It is difficult to make a dish rich in fats that will not be rich at the same time in protein. In the case of a carbohydrate meal, it is much easier.
This fact is very important because the protein is responsible for inhibiting hunger, stimulating metabolism and muscle anabolism.
What happens if we balance the carbohydrate and fat diet in terms of protein? The answer is given by the 2006 study, in which fat loss was the same in both diets (no statistically significant difference). Other studies equal in terms of the amount of protein also do not show significant differences – they indicate that in such conditions the difference between diets is minimal.
The longest test to check the effect of fat diet on fitness lasted 4 weeks, and its author was Dr. Stephen Phinney. After switching to a ketogenic diet and adaptation to the use of fats as energy, the participants’ strength options were checked. Despite the almost complete lack of carbohydrates in the diet, time to exhaustion during exercise did not change after 4 weeks, indicating the neutral effect of the fat diet.
However, these are averaged data that mask the individuality of individuals. One of the participants noted a significant increase in fitness, increasing the time to exhaustion by 84 minutes! In turn, two participants died on a fat diet, the time they could run, shortened in turn by 48 and 51 minutes. This shows that everyone can react completely differently to the composition of the diet, some will improve their results on a diet of fat, others on a carbohydrate diet.
Pros of carbohydrate diet
In addition to the above information, we can distinguish several obvious pluses for each of these diets. When it comes to carbohydrate diet, they will be them
– a higher level and the ability to use glycogen;
– improvement of fitness during intensive exercise;
– higher levels of IGF-1, leptin, thyroid hormones (T3);
– lower cortisol levels.
Pros of the fat diet
The advantages of using a diet rich in fats are first and foremost
– better hunger control;
– easy delivery of protein in the diet;
– lower levels of insulin hormone;
– a higher level of ketone bodies and glucagon hormones, catecholamine.
The final verdict
The debate on these diets is so fierce because there is no definite answer that is better. The reduction of both fats, as well as carbohydrates, has its pros and cons, a good trainer should know which to use and at what time to maximize the effects. Ultimately, the best diet is one that is signed with your name and surname.