When it comes to a healthy eating plan, have you considered low calorie versus low carb? Are you among the millions of people across the country who are tired of trying to get rid of excess fat? The obesity pandemic in America has heightened awareness of the diseases and disorders that are linked to it.
With the plethora of diet programs touted in the media, you struggle to determine the scams, the ones are legitimate, and which programs are right for you? When you clear the table of magic pills, supplements, shakes, food combining, and restrictive eating plans, the basic diets of low calorie versus low carb remain. Both include significant restrictions, but which is the best healthy eating plan to help your weight loss goals?
A Brief History of Calorie Counting
Though fad diets change with the seasons, counting calories is the quintessential weight loss regimen. While it used to be relegated to the nutrition label on many foods, you’ll find the calorie content in bold print on restaurant menus, signage, and even vending machines. Health conscience people want to know portions and calories for everything they eat.
Although calorie counting is the oldest method in the low calorie vs. low carb dilemma, it’s still a recent science. For years, scientists who studied fuel and energy used the French word calorie to designate how many units of heat was required to power a machine. In the late 19th century, diet and health researchers discovered that food used calories to fuel our bodies, and an excess of these caused people to be overweight.
One of the first 20th century physicians to champion the low-calorie diet was Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters. As an ample-figured lady among the culture of the rail-thin flappers, Hunt restricted her calorie intake to achieve modest weight loss success. She spent her professional career writing and lecturing extensively on how to count and limit calorie intake to lose weight.
Simple Calorie Math
As you consider the low calorie versus low carb differences, both entail necessary math skills. The core concept of counting calories is that you must burn more than you consume since the surplus is stored as fat. Your daily activities and exercise routines burn calories at specific rates so that a calorie deficit can take inches from your waistline.
To lose one pound in a week, you must consume at least 3,500 fewer calories than you eat, which figures out to a deficit of 500 calories each day, according to leading nutrition experts. When you add exercises like cardio workouts or running, you could burn at least 500 calories per hour. The key is to keep a calorie deficit and exercise to burn more fat.
When you consider the low calorie versus low carb debate, you probably hear more about low carb diet plans these days. Although Dr. Atkins wasn’t the first expert to promote high protein/low carb eating, his best-selling book forever etched his name in American health and fitness pop culture. Like calorie counting, carb counting uses basic math for creating a weight loss plan.
Dietitians know that research proves that your body gets carbohydrates from the starches and sugars in most foods. The body uses carbs for energy and can store the excess as fatty deposits. Most overly processed “junk” foods are chock full of fat and useless calories that will end up on your waistline.
The premise of a low carb diet is to eat low carb foods to reduce your carb intake and ultimately lose weight.
How to Count Carbohydrates?
Depending on the healthy eating plan you are following, you probably have a daily carb intake goal. Government nutritional guidelines suggest that between 45-65 percent of your daily calorie intake should be carbohydrates.
If you do the math, you should be consuming from 900-1,300 carb calories a day if you are on a 2,000-calorie limit. If you translate those calories to grams, you find that your carb limit should be between 225-325 grams daily. You would divide that number by how many meals and snacks you have during the day.
Both weight loss plans have pluses and minuses, and you may find one more appealing than the other when you consider your eating habits. Since each has good points, you may consider using concepts from both for the best eating plan for you.
The Importance of Reading the Food Labels
While you ponder low calorie versus low carb to lose weight, remember that food labels are your friend for either option. On almost every packaged food and beverage you purchase, you’ll find a bold nutrition label on the side that will list ingredients and other pertinent nutritional percentages. Be sure to read how many servings are in one unit, because the percentages represent one serving.
• Calorie Count
If you are counting calories, use the calorie line. You may also be interested in the next line, which states how many of those calories are from fat. Keeping your fat percentages low is also beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight. You will also see the percentage that one serving fits into the average 2,000 calories per day limit.
• Counting Carbs
When you are counting your carbohydrates, the label is a bit more detailed. You will find three listings for carbs on a label:
* Total carbohydrates: This is the total amount of carbs in each serving of this product.
* Dietary Fiber: Did you know that dietary fiber is an indigestible form of carbs? Your body needs essential fiber to move digested food throughout your system correctly. High fiber foods are usually healthy whole foods like grains, vegetables, and fruit, and they help you feel full and satisfied longer.
* Sugars: Many foods have natural sugars called monosaccharides and disaccharides, which are considered simple carbs. Some processed foods have these sugars added for flavor, but they also add empty calories.
Unlike healthier complex carbs, these simple carbs are notorious for spiking your blood glucose levels and causing you to crave more. When you are figuring your total carbohydrate allowance, these are the ones to avoid. Remember that the more processed a food is, it’s generally high in the simple carbs that cause weight gain.
Low Calorie Versus Low Carb: Pros & Cons
Since everyone is different, no weight loss plan is a “one size fits all.” Low calorie and low carb plans have good points and bad points, according to your preferences. If you are considering calorie counting, here are the pros and cons to consider.
• Pros of Counting Calories
* Finding the calories-per-serving on nutritional labels is easy, and all you need to do is add it to your daily total.
* If you have hypertension, diabetes, or are obese, studies show that a low-calorie diet can benefit these conditions.
• Cons of Counting Calories
* Although counting calories keep you within the boundaries of the recommended 2,000 calories per day, it doesn’t address your nutritional requirements.
* Many people get in a rush to lose weight and drop their calorie intake below safe levels. You may lose more weight temporarily, but you can also lose muscle mass because your body goes into starvation mode. Consult with your primary healthcare provider about how many calories you should be consuming each day to lose weight.
• Pros of Counting Carbs
If you have diabetes and need to be mindful of your carbohydrate intake, a low carb diet would be beneficial.
Total carbs are easy to find on nutritional labels, and you can figure your net carbs for the day by doing some simple math.
• Cons of Counting Carbs
Just because a food item is low in carbs or has none doesn’t mean you can eat all you want without repercussions. Many nutritional experts criticize low carb diets like the Atkins diet for being too high in fat and calories. Maintaining a low carb diet doesn’t necessarily mean you are following a healthy weight loss plan.
Nutritional experts encourage everyone to learn how to portion their meals and snacks correctly. In the last two decades, food portions in America have increased so subtly that you probably haven’t noticed. While controlling your portions is necessary for a low-calorie diet, it isn’t always easy to judge a smaller portion size’s calorie content by looking at the nutritional label.
When considering the low calorie vs. low carb debate, portion control is even more critical for counting carbs because you won’t always have a nutritional label. However, it’s not difficult to memorize portions of your favorite foods to make healthy meal options. Some whole foods, like most salad greens, have negligible amounts of carbohydrates, so you don’t have to count them.
If you want to lose weight and get healthier, you have several dieting options available. When you consider low calorie vs. low carb diets, be aware of the pros and cons of each option and realize they both require some easy calculations and portion control. Before starting any diet or exercise regimen, consult your primary healthcare provider or a registered dietician.