When it comes to weight loss diets, carbohydrates and fats are the two macro nutrients (food groups) that people tend to look at. Years ago, the government recommended that people ate a low-fat diet if they wanted to drop weight and avoid any cardiovascular disease. In more recent years, carbohydrates seem to be the food group with a bad rap. But which food group is better or worse and what’s the difference between them?
Benefits of Fats
By decreasing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fats, you can improve insulin sensitivity (type 2 diabetes is associated with insulin sensitivity), reduce inflammation and support your metabolism. Fats play a key role in hormone balance and contribute towards a better brain function. It is not a terrible thing to be moving towards a higher fat diet. Science is now indicating that eating this way lowers the risk of heart disease. Let us not forget Omega 3 (found in oily fish) also help fats turn on genes that are involved with lipolysis (the burning of fat, whilst turning off the fat storing genes).
Benefit of Carbohydrates
Dietary fibre is very important for digestion, and is found mainly in complex carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are an immediate source of energy and are broken down faster than fats. They are also cheaper to purchase and more readily available. Carbohydrates can increase serotonin levels in the brain which has an impact on our moods and helps us sleep better. It can also have an impact on our performance when doing exercise such as sprints or heavy lifting (power movements).
What foods are classed as good fats?
Nuts such as almonds and walnuts are an excellent choice. Avocados, salmon and oily fish, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, eggs, cheese (soft) and red meat (in moderation) are some foods that contain essential fats.
*some foods listed above are saturated fat which traditionally have been a no go area!
What foods are classed as good carbohydrates?
Sweet potato, oats, basmati rice, brown rice, fruits and vegetables, jacket potatoes, wholemeal bread etc.
What is better for weight loss?
The bottom line is everybody is different and some people will react better to a low carb high fat diet, and others a low fat high carb diet. Either way, the key point to look at is calorie intake. 1 gram of Fat contains 9 calories compared to 1 gram of carbohydrate which contains 4 calories (Protein is also 4 calories and Alcohol is 7 calories). If you are eating enough protein and fibre and not over consuming on your daily calorie intake, it then comes down to personal preference on whether you want to make the rest of your calories up with either fats or carbs.
Remember cutting out whole food groups is not recommended for long term sustainability and health, so try to find a balance and eat both in moderation.