Some of the difficulties in health, fitness and nutrition advice is the constant battle between someone wanting a simple answer vs understanding the truth (which is usually more complicated).

This is perhaps no more apparent than the ongoing debate about whether low carb diets provide a metabolic advantage towards accelerated fat loss. The studies suggest that it does not and the most effective approach for any individual is the plan they can stick to the easiest, be this low carb or higher carb. A passionate low carb or low fat promoter would call this a lie and quote study xxxxx or a personal experience they had.

It is for these reasons the debate will never die down. There is crazy variability between both individual people and how studies are run. Take a look at the graph below, the  first graph on the left shows the significant difference a low carb diet had on individual metabolisms. As you can see, the best response to the low carb eating in the study raised their energy expenditure by 700 calories / day. However, the worst response in the group had expenditure reduced by almost 1000 calories / day. The difference between these two people is huge.

Photo – Variability In Nutrition Studies .


The variability in groups is also shown in the variation in study results. Quoting one study is very poor science when it comes to the body because we know how sensitive it is to variables. The graph above on the right shows the results from various different high vs low carb nutrition studies. If the bar is to the left of the main line it shows favour to higher carb. If it is to the right then this shows favour to low carb. You can see different studies produce varying results supporting both sides of the argument.

What makes the debate more complicated is that whether low carb raises energy expenditure or not is just one thing. It does not actually detail the more important questions such as what is best for long term and sustained results? e.g. what if a plan raises energy expenditure but also increases hunger so you end up eating more than before? This is very applicable to the real world where you have food at your fingertips all day long.  

So why is this important to you? The answer is that you have to put yourself, the individual as the main variable in trying to get in shape. While aligning yourself to any theory or model may be a good idea, how do you know where you are on the various scales in the previous diagrams?

The key has to be results not just now but also long term into the future and done in a safe way. For me this is always what counts, if a keto diet works then we will use it. if a vegan plan gets results then let’s go with that. You can usually test and find out where you lie fairly quickly on a plan. To this you cannot separate and ignore the mental component of taste, desire in following a plan and so forth.

Another advantage of taking an individual over dogmatic approach is it allows for change. Your body also adapts over time. I used to get fantastic results on low carb and then over time my body shifted to needing more carbs in the diet. When you follow what your body is doing then you will always be ahead of the curve rather than locked in a struggle and fight against food.  


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