Virtually every week, a new diet fad comes along that promises us smaller waste lines, better beach bodies, more energy, or a healthier life. Flip on the television for long and you’re sure to see someone claiming that they lost 100 pounds while still eating ice cream thanks to a new miracle cure for weight gain. Though some of these miracle diets are quite ridiculous, there are others that seem quite logical and have many devoted followers. When examined closely, all of these diets tend to follow along one of two common threads of logic. The first school of thought posits that carbohydrates are especially fattening because they stimulate the production of insulin—a hormone that also encourages the body to store up fat. The second school of thought argues that cutting out fat is the way to go. Read on to learn more about the benefits and limitations of each of these competing dietary narratives.

The Low-Carb Diet.

Carbohydrates are found in a great deal of the food we eat—but above all else, they are usually found in grains. From spaghetti, to bread, to oatmeal, to birthday cake—carbohydrates can be difficult to avoid. However, according to many diehard proponents of the low-carb diet, that is exactly what we need to do if we want to lose weight.

The first reason for this was mentioned above. Consuming carbohydrates stimulates the production of insulin, a hormone that aids in the storing of fat. It is also worth mentioning that diabetes severely impacts the ability of the body to produce insulin—meaning that diabetics who consume carbohydrates will experience a spike in blood sugar that must often be countered by medication. Because of this, it can be said with a fair deal of certainty that low-carb diets are indeed recommendable for diabetics.

As far as non-diabetics are concerned, the low-carb diet is still intriguing. However, many may be drawn to the low-fat diet.

The Low-Fat Diet.

The low fat diet first exploded in popularity during the 1970’s, when public awareness about the country’s obesity problem first rose to the center stage. In response, many companies began producing food that was “low fat.” This had an unintended consequence: in order to replace the flavor lost by fat, many companies began filling food with extra sugar—which, according to numerous studies, may have caused the entire low-fat attitude to backfire.

That being said, it is still obviously possible to eat a low-fat diet “the right way.” In other words, rather than purchasing foods that have had the fat artificially replaced with sugar, simply choosing foods that are naturally low in fat such as fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, and eggs. In this case, you may very well stand to benefit from a low-fat diet.

Calories: The Real Target.

Here’s the secret about both the low-carb and the low-fat diets: they are actually both targeting the same common enemy—calories. In the end, weight gain and weight loss are the products of a simple equation: calories consumed versus calories burned. Because both carbohydrates and fat tend to be rich in calories, taking either one of the two out of your diet could help you to reduce the overall amount of calories that you consume, thus helping you lose weight. However, it is just as plausible (and much more balanced) to simply cut back a bit on both: reducing your overall calorie intake without giving up carbs or fats completely. In the end, it all comes down to what works for you.

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