High Fats vs High Carb: Which is Healthier?

fruit cheese entree

Fats and carbohydrates are essential food elements in the body. While both have significant benefits, they also have some shortcomings when eaten in excess. Understanding their uses in the body will help you choose between high fats or high-carb diet.

For many years, studies have indicated that fats put you at a higher risk of obesity. Carbohydrates are not safer either. They result in increased obesity cases and a rise in diabetes and other health concerns. It is useful to note that simply because a diet helps you in weightless, it does not prevent you from other diseases, enhance barn function, or improve longevity.

salmon dish

What is a High-Fat diet?

Various studies have been done on high fats since 1940. Different meanings have been used by scientists in defining the high-fat diet. [*][*][*]

A study from 1967 labeled fat intake from 35% to 60% as high-fat. They also named corn oil as a fat source.

A 2011 review on the effects of a high-fat diet on mice defined that any diet with 32%-60% of calories is high-fat. The high-fast mouse feeds were made using soybeans, hydrogenated oils, and Crisco.

Another 2017 study on a diet comprising of 20% proteins, 35% carbs, and 45% fat was termed as ‘high-fat.’ A contradicting human research in 2015 consisting of a diet 55% fat and 30% carbs was also termed as ‘high-fat.’ [*][*] In the experiment, participants ate two sausages, eggs, and cheese biscuits before the study.

There is no specific research on what ‘high-fat’ is.

Essentially, a diet with more than 25% of calories from fats is termed as high fat as there is no defined paradigm for foods with carbohydrates but terms them ‘high-fat.’ The quality of fats also matters and varies.

High-fat diets in real life

Most processed American foods have high fats and sugar but are different from a healthy low-carb, high-fat diet. It is worth noting that the western diet is varied from a low-carb, high-fat diet, although the terms are used interchangeably.

eggs and avocado

What is a keto diet?

A keto diet keeps you in ketosis, thus restricting carbohydrates.

An extreme version of a keto diet is used for treating epilepsy. It derives 90% of calories healthy fats.

If you want a keto diet to lose weight, feel better and enhance your health, eat between 20-25% of calories from proteins, 5-10% of calories from carbs, and 70-80% of calories from fats.

You can use the perfect keto macro calculator to guide you on how many carbs to eat.

What is a high-carb diet?

cheese

Researchers term different things as high-carbs. The traditional dogma against fat as a micronutrient that discredits benefits of high-carb hence defining these diets as ‘low-fat diets.’

Most low-fat diets include at less 50% of calories from carbs and 15-20% of fewer calories from fats.

From studies, high-carb diets for weight loss involve calorie restriction. Hugh carb foods include processed foods, sugar, grains.

Benefits of a high-fat, low-carb diet

Most benefits of this diet originate from increased fat oxidation, reduced appetite, improved insulin activity, and lowering inflammation. When carbs are restricted and eat more proteins and fats, the body uses fats as a source of fuel/energy.

Fat oxidation enhances the circulation of ketones in the body, which has anti-inflammatory and health-improving benefits. [*][*][*]

A low-carb, high-fat diet also improves your mood, energy, and sleep. [*][*][*].

Risks of a high-fat, low-carb diet

Contrary to the belief that eating high fats increases the risk of heart diseases, weight gain, and high-fat has nothing to do with such diseases.

If you are overweight, have type 2 diabetes, or insulin-resistant, eating more fats may temporarily increase inflammation in your body.

Some carbs are unhealthier than others. Fructose found in corn syrup, sugar, and most fruits causes increased visceral fats in your abdominal organs. Visceral fats are associated with higher levels of inflammation, heart disease, and high mortality risk. [*][*][*]

Eating high-glycemic carbs, high carbs with little fiber increases the risk of the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women.

High-Fat or High-Carb: which is the best?

tea

For weight loss

A high-fat, low-carb diet works well in weight loss like a high-carb diet. You will have a low-calorie count if you use the low-carb diet.

A study involving 450 subjects also showed a high-fat, low-carb diet without prescribing calorie restriction is more effective than the low-fat diets with restricted calories.

In another 24 week study involving 120 overweight subjects, low-carb, high-fat vs. low-fat, high-carb comparison showed that a high-fat diet resulted in more weight loss and lower drop-out rate.

A two-week study in 2015 compared high-carb and high-fat diets found out that high-carb foods cause more fat loss but have some flaws in the study. One ‘restricted carbohydrate’ eaten was about 140 grams per day, which is not keto or a low-carb diet as per the definition. The subjects were locked done in rooms during the study, thus limiting their exercises and activities which decrease metabolism.

Some evidence shows that exposure to sunlight improves insulin secretion and alter metabolism. Being locked indoors, therefore, skewed the study results. [*][*][*][*][*]

In further studies, no significant differences between low-carb, high-fat diets and high-carb, low-fat diets in weight loss when the calorie intake was factored. [*][*]

In weight loss, both high-fat and high-carb diets work well.

For better composition

There is a difference between weight loss and fat loss. Low-carb, high-fat diets like keto promote greater fat-burning, which results in fat loss instead of muscle.

The ketones produced during keto diet help retain the lean muscle as the body shades body fat.

In a study involving active female endurance athletes on a ketogenic diet, increased fat burning resulted in 9 pounds fat loss and lower fat percentage without losing muscle mass.

In male endurance, athletes on a high-carb diet or low-carb keto diet, the group lost more fat and less muscle mass.

For appetite and satiety

Feeling hungry or full may affect your weight loss and diet plans. Low-carb, high-fat diets are very active over high-carb foods.

High-carb diets in low proteins can increase your appetite and result in increased body fat. In contracts, low-carb, high-fat diets are filling hence, you will lose weight without counting calories.

A study with 148 overweight adults comparing low-carb and low-fat diets found that low-fat diet reduced peptide YY more than a low-carb diet. Peptide YY is a hormone produced in the small intestines, which reduces food intake. It is the reason why high-fat, low-carb diets make you feel full.

If you decide to cut calories on the keto diet, you are less likely to suffer from hunger pangs as compared to foods with more carbs [*][*][*][*].

For athletic performance

working out

The keto diet with high-fat, low-carb diets increase your athletic performance and also reduce inflammation in your body. It takes several days for fat adoption to happen in the body and improve performance. The benefits come from fat oxidation.

A study on endurance athletes on the keto diet showed that it improves recovery, reduced inflammation, and enhanced well-being. Athletes also benefit from improved performance when they eat a keto diet.

You need to eat a low-carb, high-fat diet on most days. Using the cyclical keto or targeted keto diet will fuel you during training and before a competition.

For balancing hormones

Hormonal imbalance is a common case when eating a high-carb, low-fat diet. Hormonal production needs fat and cholesterol intake for sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. Reducing dietary fat lowers estrogen by 7.5%.

In men, decreasing dietary fats and saturated fat intake reduces the concentration of testosterone, androstenedione, and free testosterone. Low testosterone levels result in low sex drive, fertility, and mass muscle reduction in men and women. [*][*][*]

Keto diet occasionally causes reduced thyroid hormone production in some people.

High-carb diets with high fat and sugar may cause insulin resistance, which may lower fertility.

For blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and diabetes

diabetes

Improving insulin sensitivity and managing blood sugar are essential practices for preventing type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, eating a high-fat, low-carb diet improves your health by lowering blood glucose and reducing insulin resistance.

A comparison of a low-carb diet with low-fat in diabetes patients showed that the diet helps in weight loss and glycated hemoglobin (hbA1c). But the low-carb diet is more beneficial in reducing blood sugar and diabetes medication requirements.

A keto diet activates the AMPK pathway, which improves insulin sensitivity and lowers your blood glucose. A 10-week study on patients with metabolic syndrome found out pairing a ketogenic diet with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) reduced HbA1c and fasting insulin.

Another 32-week study on diabetic patients found out a very low-carb ketogenic diet resulted in more weight loss, better triglyceride levels, better glycemic, and fewer dropout cases.

In a trial involving type 2 diabetes patients, low-carb diet reduced food intake, achieved better blood sugars, increased insulin sensitivity, improved cholesterol, weight loss, and better triglycerides.

For inflammation and heart health

Dietary carbohydrates (processed grains) increase heart problems, unlike saturated fats.

High-fat diets increase good cholesterol (HDL) and total cholesterol. Both reduce the risk of mortality. [*][*][*][*]

A 12-month study involving 148 healthy subjects found that high fat, low-carb diet resulted in more weight loss and improved cardiovascular health at a low-fat diet.

For cognition, brain health and dementia prevention

Neurodegenerative disorders, dementia, and brain fog are caused by oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance. A high-fat, low carb diet increases insulin sensitivity, lower inflammation in the barn and body, and reduced oxidative stress. [*][*]

The ketogenic diet is useful for brain trauma, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors, ALS, autism spectrum disorder, and migraines.

A keto diet and high-intensity interval training activate AMPK, which improves neuroplasticity, memory, and overall brain function. [*][*]

In mice, a keto diet reduces beta-amyloid, which causes Alzheimer’s disease.

The low-carb, high-fat diet increases gut bacteria, which enhances brain health.

For cancer prevention

holding hands

Most types of cancer rely on glycolytic (sugar-based) metabolism. Very low-carb diets with high fats may lower the risk of cancer compared to high-carb diets.

Ketogenic diets only have anti-tumor effects. They are well tolerated by cancer patients.

Higher fat intake reduces cancer recurrence and improves patient survival.

For patients with squamous cancer cells (in head and neck), taking higher carbohydrates, simple carbohydrate intake and glycemic load may increase motility risk as compared to low carb intake.

Using a keto diet alongside chemotherapy, radiation, or medication improves survival.

Verdict: which diet is the best?

  • High-fat, low-carb diet is effective in weight loss, reduces risks of diseases, and improves quality of life. The results are even more significant when you are not severely fatigued or stressed.
  • High-carb diets can be as effective as a high-fat, low-carb diet for weight loss. A keto diet is more natural, more fulfilling, and does not require calorie count.
  • Regardless of the diet you choose, working out and stress management are essential for better health.
  • Weight loss and general health improvement take time.

What can I eat for my High-fat keto diet

Here’s a list of the foods that make up the bulk of a healthy high-fat approach to eating:

  • Meat: Beef, lamb, bison, pork, goose, duck, goat, turkey, chicken, etc.
  • Seafood: Salmon, cod, anchovies, lobster, mussels, oysters, haddock, flounder, trout, tilapia, etc.
  • Dairy: Raw grass-fed butter, full-fat cheese, full-fat yogurt, full-fat cream
  • Eggs: Chicken, duck, goose, pheasant, emu, etc.
  • Vegetables: Spinach, parsley, brussels sprouts, collards, cilantro, bok choy, celery, cucumber, artichokes, carrots, fennel, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: Coconuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.
  • Fats and oils: Grass-fed butter, clarified butter (ghee), extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, lard and other animal fats, avocado oil, dark chocolate
  • Spices and flavorings: Pink Himalayan salt, apple cider vinegar, rosemary, turmeric, lavender, thyme, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, cilantro, parsley, etc.
  • Coffee and tea: Organic coffee, organic tea (green tea especially)
  • Healthy sweeteners: Stevia, xylitol, erythritol
  • Fruits: Lemons, limes, berries, melons, peaches, apples, etc.