Get Fit-Get Healthy – High Carb vs High Fat

Get Fit-Get Healthy – High Carb vs High Fat

Low carbohydrate: High fat (LCHF) vs. High carbohydrate: Low fat (HCLF) (sometimes referred to as ketogenic) has long been a topic of debate amongst dietitians & sports scientists alike. Which diet will promote a sustained weight loss? Fuel sports performance? Reduce the incidence of type II diabetes? Reduce cardiovascular risk? These are just some of the questions which centre around this controversial topic. This week’s blog will primarily focus on which diet is best suited for reducing the prevalence of obesity & maintaining weight loss long term.

LCHF vs HCLF

The LCHF diet uses the following food groups;

Rice- High Carbohydrate
Rice- High Carbohydrate

• Meat
• Dairy (Cheese, yoghurt, full cream milk
• Nuts
• Fish
• Green leafy vegetables
• Eggs

The HCLF diet uses the following food groups;

• Beans
• Potatoes
• Corn
• Rice
• Vegetables
• Fruit
• Pasta

The theory of LCHF is based on the effects of insulin in both the “fed” & “fasted” states. In the “fed” state, insulin secretion is increased causing the body to store excess carbohydrate as fat & utilise glucose as an energy source. In comparison, the” fasted” state results in lower levels of insulin secretion & utilisation of fat. The LCHF approach suggests that we spend a large percentage of our time in the “fed” state, meaning glucose is being used more often than fat as the source of energy. In return, greater glucose levels lead to an increase in insulin levels, resulting in potential insulin resistance, which is linked to type II diabetes & obesity.

Carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, which is regarded as the body’s preferred energy source. While LCHF is based on the belief that excess sugar is converted to fat, this is not entirely the case. Much of this excess is lost through physical activity & heat production with only a small amount being converted to fat. A scientific paper in the New England Journal of Medicine found that increased carbohydrate consumption actually resulted in “increased sensitivity of peripheral tissues to insulin” which could ultimately lead to reversal of type II diabetes.

Kenyan Marathoner Eliud Kipchoge
Kenyan Marathoner Eliud Kipchoge

There appears to be a direct correlation between HCLF & obesity when looking at research conducted by the world health organisation (WHO). China & African nations such as Kenya & Ethiopia reported a very low prevalence of overweight adults in comparison to western nations like the USA & UK. High carbohydrate foods such as rice is regarded as a staple food in china, while corn is very popular in many African nations. Many of the world’s top athletes thrive of a high carb, low fat diet as a means to fuel performance & maintain optimal body weight. Would we observe similar results in the western population if they were to adopt a similar diet? The evidence appears to support a high carb: low fat diet as being optimal for achieving & maintaining weight loss. Next week we will look at the effects of both dietary approaches on type II diabetes.

Global Health Observatory (GHO) data on Obesity
Global Health Observatory (GHO) data on Obesity

 

Useful Links

The New England Medical Journal: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM197103112841004

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/gho/ncd/risk_factors/overweight/en/

 

 

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