Find out the key differences between low calorie and low carb diet plans.
Turn on The Biggest Loser or any other diet-related reality TV show, and what you’re bound to see are a dozen or so morbidly obese contestants exercising like crazy and pining for the sweets, sugar, and carbs that got them to where they’re at with their weight. Watch for a few minutes and you’re bound to see some crisis over a contestant sneaking in some sweets to their otherwise low calorie diet.
Yes, this is typical of what many people experience themselves while undertaking their own low calorie diet — reality TV show or not. While the science proves that low carb diets are indeed among the safest and most viable, low calorie diets continue to dominate the mainstream thinking from doctors, nutritionalists, and even accredited health organizations such as the AMA and the Surgeon General.
Given the mainstream popularity of low calorie dieting, it’s important to know a few things about how low calorie diets compare and contrast.
The Big Similarity Between Low Calorie & Low Carb Diets: Fat Burning
Although both sides of the dieting divide will claim otherwise, low calorie and low carb dieting contribute to fat burning. The fact is, if a dieter restricts their caloric intake so that it is below what they require on a daily basis, their body will indeed tap into body fat to make up the caloric difference in order to keep the body running. So too does a low carb diet shift the body into bat burning mode through ketosis, as we have discussed in another blog article.
The difference is how and why both of these diets burn fat.
In the case of a low calorie diet, the body need only burn enough fat to meet the caloric requirements of the dieter. In this way, a calorie-restrictive diet works in the same way as starvation, putting the body on red alert and making sure to take only the bare minimum from fat stores to meet energy demands. Because of this, a low calorie diet can only be as effective as how few calories the dieter can go without in their daily intake of food.
Sure, to accelerate a low calorie diet, one can simply restrict even more calories from their diet. But there are unpleasant side-effects to this approach: namely, hunger and malnutrition. And hunger of course is the primary reason why most diets fail.
A low carb diet, on the other hand, does not mimic the body’s fail-safe starvation functions. Instead, by restricting carbohydrates, which in turn convert to sugar in the bloodstream, the body ceases to rely on the glucose from dietary carbs and instead begins to burn fat in its place. This is what is known as ketosis, and, unlike low calorie dieting, ketosis puts the body into an ongoing fat-burning process, so long as the dieter continues to restrict carbs. Fat is converted into amino acids, which power the body, and any excess is dispelled through sweat, skin, and breath.
The genius of the low carb diet is that restricting carbs does not cause hunger, since the dieter can eat as much fat and protein as they want. While it is tre that low carb dieters do feel cravings for sweets and simple carbohydrates, these are not the “hunger pangs” of a low calorie diet: instead, these are psychological cravings left over from years of “using” carbs and sweets as comfort foods. Most serious low carb dieters learn to control these cravings with great-tasting low carb foods.
A Scientific Fact: Calories Don’t Make You Fat!
We’ve written before that dietary fat does not make you fat, but the same is true with calories. Calories will not make you fat! The fact is, unused calories are not converted into body fat — they are expelled through the body. Instead, it is carbohydrates and sugar that are stored as body fat. This common misconception — which is propagated even by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Sugeon General — is the single reason why America continues to have an overweight problem: our health officials encourage the population eat more carbs and less protein, making them fatter!
In this way, no matter how many calories you eat on a low carb diet, you’re bound to lose weight — and not be hungry in the process.
Bear in mind, however, that low calorie diets do work. If your daily recommended intake of calories each day is 3,000 calories and you restrict down to 2,000, there is no doubt that your body will burn fat to make up the difference. But why suffer with the hunger of a low calorie diet when you can eat low carb lose the same if not more weight, and not be hungry?
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Michael Nace is a low carb blogger for Linda’s Diet Delites. He is not a Doctor, and his article does not represent the view and opinions of Linda’s Diet Delites, nor are his articles meant to be construed as medical advice.