This is a seriously big question in the fitness industry at the moment and there is some seriously complicated science behind both methods of fat loss.
The simple fact is most of us just want to be slimmer or leaner, and to look and feel good. Not many really want to look like a fitness model, or top level bodybuilder. However, it is these people (myself included) that are the guys giving the messages on how to diet and train, and ultimately, how to look like them. But do they know what really works?….
Hand on heart, I’ve tried most ‘diets’ (unless they’re stupid like the cabbage soup diet) in the attempt to improve my own physique and to better understand the feelings for my clients. I have a first hand knowledge on what they do and feel like. I’ve done contest prep on low fat and low carb and I know the pitfalls.
The problem comes from the fact we all know someone who lost a load of weight from one of these and they look great, so you say ‘it must work for me’. You wont. Here’s why.
Firstly, if its coming from your trainer who is already lean and highly muscled, they could do the ‘standing on your head and pie eating diet’ and still drop fat if they trained enough and didn’t over eat. You are not them, your body doesn’t work the same, you will be fat…and standing on your head. I do miss pie though….
Secondly, low carb works for a short period of time as you are in calorie deficit usually and your body is forced to burn fat while your metabolism is high. After a while, your metabolism drops to match your calorie intake, insulin down regulates, fat loss halts, and sporadic carb consumption makes you fat and you burn up muscle tissue to compensate for no carbs.
Thirdly, low fat will work for a while (usually because this means you’ve just dropped calories so see above for the same answer) but you also get the added bonus of hormone deficiency, they are made of fat, especially adrenal hormones and testosterone (which manage growth and fat storage/mobilization). As you continue with low fat many functions are less than optimal, therefore you don’t burn fat as well, and they often come with cravings. Cravings mean you over eat and with a low metabolism you cant deal with the extra calories, so you get fat.
Clearly i don’t like low carb or low fat dieting. So here is my take home message. Eat a variety of proteins, carbs and fats in each meal (4-6 times per day). Learn restraint. Regularly exercise. If you do this you will lose fat and look better. How far you take it will dictate your level of success. It is really tough to break the cycle at the start so find your mojo and stick with it.
Hope this is helpful. By all means contact me via the website for more information or for one on one consultations.