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Low-carbs versus low-calories: We’ll tell you which diet is better for weight loss

Updated on:9 October 2020, 12:13pm IST
Looking to lose weight and confused about what approach to follow? We’ll settle the low-carbs vs low-calorie debate once and for all.
Geetika Sachdev
Low carbs vs low calories: what to choose? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Whenever you decide to lose weight, you are swamped with a ton of advice. The two most popular approaches are going for a low-carbohydrates diet, or going for a low-calorie one. The first diet is all about keeping a track of the carbohydrates you consume during your meals. You are advised to eliminate starchy, sugary and refined carbs—most of which contain empty calories. 

On the other hand, calorie counting revolves around the principle of ‘calories in, calories out’. As per research by the Mayo Clinic, burning 3,500 more calories than you consume means 0.45 grams lost. For instance, if you cut down your intake by 500 calories every single day, then over a period of one week, you can lose weight easily. 

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Although both seem like feasible approaches, what’s better? It’s time to settle the debate for once and all! 

Reading food labels
Make sure you read food labels when you follow either approach, even though it becomes more crucial when you follow the calorie counting method. That’s because you are reading the calories per serving for every meal. And at times, the food you are considering eating could contain more than one serving. 

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When you go through food labels, you will also know the carb content in your foods. There are three elements to consider here: total carbohydrates signifies the total number of carbohydrates present in the food; dietary fibre will tell you the fibre content; and sugars refers to natural and added sugars in your food.  In all these cases, an additional amount means empty calories, and that’s not what you want if you are looking to lose weight

Portion control
The portions you consume form an important part of both approaches. Especially when you are counting calories, it might be difficult to figure out the number of calories just by keeping a watch on your food intake. Of course, you can practice portion control by reading the food label, but to know your calorie intake might be tough!

Portion control is equally important, when you are counting your carb intake. That’s because you may not always have a nutrition label to keep a check. There are times people literally have to memorise certain portions for a variety of foods. 

Being mindful of medical conditions
A low-calorie diet is recommended to most people who suffer from lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, or even high blood pressure. Research says that weight gain is linked to several ailments, which is why it is important to shed that unnecessary fat. 

When it comes to carb counting, it is largely used by those suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes to maintain sugar levels throughout the day. Some diabetics require insulin, and in that case, their bodies need carbs for energy. By using a carb counting approach, they can better predict how much insulin will be needed. 

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Low-calorie or low-carb: which one should you pick?
Of course, both approaches have their pros and cons, but most people find it easier to count calories, and it can be sustained in the long run. That’s because it is not tough to find calorie total for most foods, using a calorie tracker. Moreover, calorie count is important if you want to lose weight

But that doesn’t mean you go overboard on carbs, even if you maintain your calorie count. Keep your carb intake within recommended guidelines (50% to 65% of your total intake), so that it makes space for you to also consume protein and fat. The key to losing weight and keeping healthy is to follow a balanced diet! 

1 Comment

  1. There is no need for portion control on a keto diet – eat as much as you want and drink red wine. I lost 30 kilos in 4 months – and have sustained this since 2018. Don’t mix the science up – there’s no need to be miserable counting calories

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Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.