A low-fat diet and a low-carb diet are arguably the two most popular diets we see today in the news, social media and magazines. Both diets have been known to help people lose weight, take control of their health or act as a preventive measure for certain diseases. But what exactly does it mean to eat low-fat or low-carb?
What is considered low fat?
For a diet to be considered low-fat, 30% or less of total calories consumed need to come fat. Depending on how many calories a day you consume, it would look something like this:
A daily diet of 1,500 calories is about 50 grams of fat per day, 2,000 calories are about 67 grams of fat and 2,500 calories is about 83 grams of fat per day.
If following a low-fat diet, you would usually stay away from these types of foods:
- high-fatty cuts of meat
- full-fat yogurt
- full-fat cheese
- full-fat milk
These types of foods contain high amounts of fat that may even set you over your 30% in one-to-two meals! For example, the popular food trend of avocado and eggs on toast sets you back 22 grams of fat for two eggs and another 15 grams of fat for avocado…
Why would someone go on a low-fat diet?
There are a plethora of reasons why someone would go on a low-fat diet. Some go on them to help with their cardiovascular health because issues may have stemmed from high fatty diets. Others try them out to lose weight. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough studies out there on the long-term health benefits of low-fat diets.
What is considered low-carb?
For a diet to be considered low-carb, it would be anything less than the recommended daily amount of carbs, which is about 45% of calories from carbs. Depending on how low of carbs you are eating, you could eat anything from about 10-40% of calories consumed come from carb sources.
Why have low carb recipes become more popular in the last couple of years?
In the last few years, it is hard not to notice the trend of low-carb recipes, These have become so popular because people are going on low-carb diets to lose weight. This happens because low-carb diets are usually lower in calories. When you reduce your carb intake, you may help balance your blood sugar and insulin levels, reduce sugar cravings, lower your risk of heart disease and may prevent some types of cancers.
Aren’t carbs the body’s only source of energy?
Nope! When you eat a low-carb diet, your body can eventually go in to “ketosis.” This is when you start burning fat as energy instead of carbs. This type of diet has gotten some bad press but you probably don’t need to eat as low of carbs as you think to start burning fat as energy. About 50 – 60 grams a day can set your body into ketosis.
Why do low-fat foods have a bad rep?
Many healthcare professionals have labelled low-fat foods as “bad for you” but let’s dig a little deeper on that…
Packaged foods such as baked goods, salad dressings or yogurts that are marketed to be low-fat, usually have a lot of extra ingredients. Fat adds flavor and companies don’t want to skimp out on that, so they add sugar and additives to keep a great taste and to keep you coming back for more!
However, whole foods that are naturally low in fat may be the better option to go if you are eating a low-fat diet.
Some whole, natural low-fat foods are:
- Chicken Breast
- Turkey Breast
- Egg Whites
- Leafy greens
What healthy foods are common in low-carb meals?
If you’re eating a low-carb diet, there are tons of “swaps” you can make to make sure you don’t miss out!
Zucchini is commonly used as a pasta replacement. They are popping out in more and more grocery stores in the produce section or if you want to make it at home, all you need is a vegetable peeler or a spiralizer to make them.
Cauliflower has replaced rice in many low-carb recipes. These can also be bought pre-made at a grocery store or you can make your own at home in a blender or food processor.
Ditch the high-carb bun or tortillas and use lettuce leaves instead. Tons of restaurants are offering this option, so you won’t miss out.
What healthy foods are common in low-fat meals?
When eating a low-fat meal, it is common to include all different types of vegetables, complex carbs like rice or quinoa and lean meats such as chicken breast or egg whites.
Low-fat diet eaters can be known to cook in water or lemon juice instead of oil, trim fat from their animal proteins and steer clear from butter or cream sauces.
Can you eat out on low-carb or low-fat diets?
Yes, you can! Many restaurants are including low-fat or low-carb options on their menus. But if you find yourself somewhere without those option on the menus feel free to ask the server to make your own meal.
For a low-carb meal, you can switch out the potatoes “meat and potato” special for a fresh salad or vegetables of your choice. You just have to ask.
For a low-fat meal, feel free to ask them to cook without butter, cream or oil.
How can vegans or vegetarians eat low-carb?
If you stay away from animal products, it is still very possible for you to eat low-carb. Vegetarians include healthy fats like avocados and oils, protein sources such as tofu and tempeh (both made from soybeans), dairy sources such as eggs, yogurt and cheese, some nuts and seeds and low-carb vegetables such as leafy greens, squash or nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant). Vegans consume the same but without the dairy sources.
Veggie burgers are popular with the plant-based community, but be sure to read the nutrition label as most can be pretty high in carbs.
Could veganism be the new low-fat diet?
It is common for vegans to eat a high-carb/ low-fat diet. This group of people eat tons of fruit, vegetables, potatoes, pasta and rice. They steer clear of oils, nuts, seeds and all animal products.
If eating this way, getting most of your calories from whole, natural foods and non-packaged foods may be the better way to go. It will ensure you are getting all the proper vitamins and minerals necessary for your health.
Low-fat or low-carb for bodybuilding?
Choosing one of these diets is popular for people competing in bodybuilding. This is because they need to drastically cut down their calories to look a certain way. Both of these have benefits for getting competition ready so it is really all based on personal preference and what works better for your body.
If you want to try either of those diets, be sure to talk to your healthcare professional before starting!
Low-Carb vs Low-Fat Recipes: You Decide!
Almond-Crusted Squash Wedges
Think you’ll miss french fries on a low-carb diet? Not with these guys. Try them as a side dish or as an afternoon snack!
This makes a great breakfast option that is nutritious and delicious. You can even use last night’s vegetable leftovers in it.
Tomato & Heart of Palm Salad
Low-carb salads have never tasted better with this tomato and hearts of palm recipe. We’re drooling already.
Pineapple Sorbet with Thai Basil & Ginger
Don’t worry low-carb dessert lovers, we have you covered with this fruit sorbet. This would be great on a hot summers day but it’s delicious enough for us to enjoy all year long…