Why High Carb Diets Work Better for Fat Loss
Why High Carb Diets Work Better for Fat Loss
With the latest boom in ketogenic style diets in which we tailor our eating patterns to consist more of a higher fat consumption with moderate protein and low carbohydrate usage, it would turn a lot of heads if I told you the science actually shows how higher carbohydrate diets with lower fat consumption actually leads to greater total fat loss.
If you spend enough time online, it would be rather easy to find the latest debates circulating the nutrition industry as to what actually causes the body to store and burn body fat. Some Doctors, Nutritionists, and PhD holders will argue that insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar, is the root culprit of whether fat is stored or burned in the body whereas some will argue that weight loss is still a calories in vs calories out matter and the macronutrients ratios do not matter (to a certain extent) as long as you remain in a caloric deficit.
If insulin is in fact the primary cause of fat loss and fat storage, than it makes sense that we would limit our carbohydrate intake since after eating carbohydrates, those carbs break down into glucose, a sugar that is the body’s primary fuel source, resulting in higher blood sugar and an increased release of insulin to help regulate it. The more insulin that is produced, the greater chance we have at storing body fat and not remaining in a fat burning process throughout the day...supposedly.
What does science say?
Kevin Hall, PhD and lead investigator discovered that in a study of 19 obese men and women, restricting dietary fat led to body fat loss at a rate 68 percent higher than cutting the same number of carbohydrate calories when adults with obesity ate strictly controlled diets. Kevin Hall did indeed find as expected that maintaining a lower carb diet did result in a decrease of insulin production and thus, an increase in the fat burning process. However, he was stunned to discover that participants of the study lost even more body fat on the lower fat diet alternative, as it resulted in a greater imbalance in the fat eaten and fat burned.
We know that carbohydrates, glucose in particular, is the body's preferred fuel source. From case studies, we typically see a consistent relationship between carbohydrate intake and energy output. More energy input and availability means greater potential energy output which means a greater amount of calories burned. You will burn fat as long as your total caloric intake remains in a deficit and your protein remains moderate. If you are still skeptical, this is simply one study of numerous that have been performed that have resulted in similar results.
Looking for more proof?
One of the single most popular studies that have ever been performed and recorded was Dr. Walter Kempner’s “Rice Diet Experiment.” In Dr. Kempner’s study of over 100+ obese participants that were put on a high carb diet, specifically a diet that consisted of 94-95% carbohydrate consumption, 4-5% protein consumption and only 2-3% fat consumption, he discovered that the average weight loss per participant was 141 lbs! Not only that but other positive results that were found included; improvements in cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and overall body weight.
In over 10 years of coaching individuals to achieve not only weight loss but also improve overall physiological health, I’ve discovered similar findings with my own clientele as well. It’s important to note however that this doesn’t mean there isn’t a place and time to utilize a ketogenic or moderate-high fat nutrition protocol as we have seen it’s benefits on hormone production and brain health. This is why everyone’s dietary protocols should be tailored to them specifically and we should avoid jumping on yearly “fads” in an attempt to cut weight really quickly. This also doesn’t mean that high fat diets won’t lead to weight loss or we should simply overly consume carbohydrates to satisfy our cravings.
So, what do we do?
Everyone’s first step to figuring out how much they should be consuming as well as gaining a clear picture as to how their macronutrient breakdown should look like, should start with inputting their personal information into a TDEE Calculator. From there we will want to establish our protein intake by taking .8-1.2g and multiplying it by our body weight or goal weight. Whether you’re closer to .8g x BW/Goal Weight or 1.2g x BW/Goal Weight will depend on where your current intake is as well as what your goals are.
Once we have calories and protein determined, we should determine our fat consumption. Fat consumption can be anywhere between 25% - 40% of total caloric intake for most everyday people to maintain optimal hormonal health. Once again, where your range is will be determined by where you’re at currently with your diet as well as what your goals and physiological health are at. Whatever calories you have left after adding up protein calories and fat calories will determine how many carbohydrates you should be eating on a daily basis.
We must remember that each individual macronutrient-protein, carbs, and fats-have their respective roles and responsibilities when it comes to achieving optimal health and shouldn’t be demonized by society, especially when there are hundreds of scientific studies to combat these popular, yet misguided, fat loss claims. The best approach I’ve seen over the years is to maintain a balanced approach of all three. However, if you have been diagnosed with a particular medical condition, we encourage you to reach out to a nutrition specialist to find the best dietary protocol for you.
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About the Author: Taylor Rodriguez
"Coach Taz" aka Taylor Rodriguez is the owner and head coach of Taz Fitness & Nutrition. He is a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach located in Deltona, FL that coaches individuals online and in person. Taylor was a former partying pro wrestler turned fitness enthusiast after the economic downturn of 2008-2010. After losing almost 70 lbs, his new passion is to help struggling individuals find new confidence within themselves to achieve any goal that they see possible. To begin coaching with Taylor or to request a free consultation, contact us today.
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