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Low Fat vs. Low Carb – Which Diet Works?

It’s almost spring and many Americans start to think about dumping the winter plump in preparation for summer.  With that in mind, consider some recent information comparing dieting techniques and their success at helping you lose a few.

Some dieters firmly believe in avoiding fat and while others espouse avoiding carbs. Does it matter? In a recent study at Stanford University researchers put more than 600 overweight adults on either a healthy low-fat or low-carb diet. It turns out, participants had similar levels of weight loss success on each plan. That’s right!  Both diets were successful.

The most important factor that was common to each diet?  Participants were instructed to eat lots of vegetables and protein while limiting their intake of added sugar and refined carbs. Sugar and other carbs have increasingly been tied to a variety of negative health outcomes, including weight gain and diabetes, AND they make up the vast majority of carbohydrates in American diets. One of the challenges with limiting these foods is that they lurk in an array of “seemingly healthy” foods like salad dressings and yogurts.

If all diets work, then how do you choose the plan that works for you?  Here are the commandments for successful weight loss, regardless of your eating style.

Eat more vegetables. Only about 10% of Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables, so most of us could do better. No matter how you choose to eat –  Paleo, Keto, Atkins, Weight Watchers – all diets recognize the value of veggies.  They are low in calories, high in fiber, and disease fighting machines.

Eat less sugar. It’s in our genes to have a preference for sweets. Sugar makes food taste good, so food companies add it to everything from breads to soups, salad dressings to cereals. Eating less sugar means not only cutting down on sweets, but eating more whole foods and fewer processed foods.  For example, bottled salad dressing has about 3 grams of sugar per serving.  The sugar content goes up if you buy light or low-fat dressing, because the flavor has to come from somewhere when you cut out fat. Consider making your own salad dressing using health oils, vinegar, citrus juice, and other condiments like mustard.

Don’t fear the fat.  For years we’ve condemned fat as evil.  Research shows us that fats like avocado, healthy oils such as olive oil, nuts are better for us.  Eating these foods can protect you from heart disease, aid in weight loss, and facilitate muscle gain.

Here’s an easy recipe for avocado vinaigrette to try: Combine a 12 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar (any vinegar you like), and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard in a blender. Blend until ingredients are combined.  Add two firm ripe avocados and salt and pepper to taste, and blend until smooth.