What is Better? Proteins or Carbs

February 25, 2018

Hard Facts About These Long-Debated Diet Trends Have Emerged

In the ultimate fight between protein and carbohydrates, we might have finally gotten Vegas to give us accurate handicapping.  First, let’s get a few things straight. No one comes to this discussion without a biased opinion. You likely love carbs or hate them. Or maybe you hate that you love carbs? Personally, we love carbs and gobble them up like an Italian ex-pat who just returned home. Can I get pasta with a side of bread?

Our opinions aside, recent trends have suggested that high fat or protein diets, like Paleo, South Beach or Ketogenic are more effective at weight loss than a balanced carb diet. These diets overtly state that removing carbs will result in quick drops in weight, some within as little as 7 days. Overall, these short-term results seem typical. They work. You will likely lose weight quickly. But what about the long-term results and the overall impact on your health? Will they help you keep the weight off? Will you have more energy and be happier?

When considering diets (and your health goals), it is important to looks at the facts. One of the biggest challenges in the health space are short-term studies that don’t remove outside influences. Frankly, we get lots of bad data with zigzagging results.

New data published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that in a randomized study of 600 participants who were overweight but otherwise healthy, over a 12 month period, saw no impact on weight loss between a low-fat or low-carb diet. The study found that the most important fact was a dietary modification, not a dietary strategy. What does this mean for you?

High Protein Diets Principals

First, let’s talk about high protein diets, that are low (or no) carb. Like any diet, they are restrictive. They promote clean and whole food eat strategies with low amounts of sugar. Based on those factors it is easy to see why most people lose weight quickly and effectively. They create a detailed nutrition strategy for individuals that removes confusion, temptation and processed food.

Why Do Most People Lose Weight on Low Carb Diets?

Based on the factors above, it is easy to see why most people lose weight quickly and effectively. These dietary modifications are quite restrictive and often create calorie negative trends. The math is simple – if you consume fewer calories than you burn each day, you will lose weight. This means if you only consume Cheetos or lean meat or bread, you will lose weight. Clearly, one of these inputs is less healthy than the other two and will leave your hands stained with a weird neon orange film.

We also believe that these diets are accompanied by an increase in health purpose. For example, spending more time and money on fitness.  This could be a few more days at the gym or buying a Peloton for a daily ride at home. It is easy to see why restricted clean eating combined with exercise will leave you looking like a new person, in 30 days or less.

Long-Term Health Effect of High Protein or Fat Diets

The results of this study were only conclusive on one nutrition and health characteristic, weight loss. They did not prove which diet trend was healthier – proteins or carbohydrates. There are both physical and social factors that will have an impact on the personalized diets for individuals. What is most effective for you might very different than what is most effective for the person on the spin bike next to you.

We are left with the same, simple thought. Health is about balance, not trends. Whole and clean foods will make you look and feel better. Health is a lifestyle, don’t limit it to 30-day experiences. Keep trying, keep iterating. You will find your own way.

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