Low-carb diet vs low-fat diet: which one is better for you?

When you're trying to lose weight, either a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet will drop the pounds — but research shows that low-carb diets may have additional benefits, such as better control of blood sugar (via Healthline). Low-carb diets restrict foods such as pasta, grains, and legumes, whereas low-fat diets limit foods such as full-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, butter, and oils. So for quick weight loss alone, either does the job. 

By cutting calories, both diets reduce your energy intake and help you lose weight, says Gary Foster, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Weight Watchers International, psychologist, and behavior change expert (via SELF). "From a straight weight loss perspective, it doesn't make a difference," Foster tells SELF.

The problem is that while restricting or excluding certain foods might seem doable or appealing in the short term, that's not sustainable for the long haul, Foster says. People who limit what they eat inevitably feel bored or deprived and ditch the diet. Dieters also may cut carbs and fats across the board, but some are good for your long-term health, Foster says. "Carbs in broccoli, watermelon, and asparagus are quite different from carbs in cookies, candies, and pastries," he explains. "Healthy oils and saturated fats are going to act differently in the arteries and on your overall health." 

So eating fewer pastries, sugary cereals, and products made with white flour will help you lose weight — and feel healthier — even if you keep around whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Low-carb diets may help control blood sugar and improve cholesterol, studies show

However, researchers are investigating whether eating a low-fat or a low-carb diet can affect other aspects of your health. For instance, eight studies have found that low-carb diets are more effective at decreasing triglyceride levels and improving levels of HDL (good) cholesterol than low-fat diets.

In addition, studies have found links between low-carb diets and reduced hunger, better control of blood sugar, and increased fat loss. Several studies show that a low-carb, high-protein diet decreases hunger and improves mood, making it potentially easier to maintain for a longer period of time. Another study of 56 people with type 2 diabetes found that those on a low-carb diet needed less insulin than those on a low-fat diet.

In short, you might notice a quicker immediate weight loss on a low-carb diet, plus provide some benefits for your blood sugar and cholesterol. That said, health professionals recommend talking with your doctor before trying either strategy, especially if you have a history of disordered eating.