To clarify the title: low carb might work for short-term weight loss, but high carb low fat works better for the short-term and the long-term. The high carb lifestyle is healthy and doesn’t require calorie counting or restriction for weight loss and management.
How do we lose weight?
Weight loss comes from a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit occurs when the amount of calories consumed is less than the number of calories needed for you to maintain your current weight. If your body requires 2500 calories per day to maintain your current weight, and you eat 2000 per day, you are left with a 500 calorie deficit. If you eat this way for an extended period of time, you will lose weight.
While you can achieve this deficit through any diet plan, it is much easier to have a deficit eating HCLF. All other diet plans require you to reach this calorie deficit by exercising more (burning calories) and/or by eating less (restricting calories). It does not matter whether you restrict calories from carbs or fat: if you achieve a calorie deficit each day you will lose weight.
Calorie restriction, just like restricting your intake of carbohydrates, does not work for long-term weight loss. It isn’t sustainable. Calorie restriction may cause you to lose weight in the short-term, but you will not be able to keep the weight off permanently. In order to do that, you would need to restrict your calorie intake for life. The second you return to eating normally, i.e. eating a suitable number of calories each day, the weight will pile on.
Restricting calories sucks! You’ll always be miserably hungry for the simple reason that you are purposely undereating. If you don’t restrict your calories, you’ll need to exercise more (most likely focusing on cardio) each day to reach a calorie deficit.
There is an easier, healthier, and sustainable way to lose weight. You can maintain a healthy lean body weight without working out heavily, avoiding carbs, or restricting calories. And at the same time, you’ll achieve optimum health. Why not choose this simpler way of living?
Eat more and abandon calorie counting.
The HCLF lifestyle is sustainable because you never need to restrict your calories.
As a HCLF vegan, you eat more food than you would if you were following a low carb diet because fruits and veggies are low in calories (because they contain minimal fat) and high in fibre. (Low carb foods are high in fat or protein, or both.) It is almost impossible to overeat on fruits and veggies because of all the fiber they contain. This is one of the reasons why the high carb lifestyle makes sense—you can eat as many healthy carbs as you desire without fear of gaining weight.
On the other hand, if you are eating a low carb diet, you definitely need to count your calories. It is very easy to overeat on a low carb high fat diet. You simply can’t eat as much fat as you want without gaining weight, feeling terrible, lacking energy, and wreaking havoc on your digestive system.
If you’ve ever felt light-headed, fatigued, and unwell after eating fatty foods, there’s a reason! Besides being difficult to digest, fatty foods inundate your blood with fat. This fat impedes the movement of sugar in and out of your bloodstream. When sugar can’t easily pass through your blood to the cells that need energy, your blood sugar stays elevated and your cells don’t receive the energy they need. For this reason, if you are currently eating a high fat diet overall yet eating fruit, you will most likely experience elevated blood sugar levels because fat remains in your bloodstream for hours. Just beware of it! It’s best to minimise your fat intake as much as you can.
Besides interfering with our blood sugar and energy levels, fat isn’t as satisfying to eat. It doesn’t keep you full as well as fruit because it lacks fibre and water.
A jar of peanut butter (Skippy brand) contains 2660 calories (almost all from fat, obviously). This is an extreme example, but imagine if you were to eat this and ONLY this during the day for your daily calories. I guarantee you’d be hungry and not satisfied! In fact, you’d feel ill because of all the fat.
Now if you were to eat 2660 calories from peaches, you’d need to eat 45 peaches throughout the day. Compare the sheer volume of 45 peaches to a single jar of peanut butter. They are calorically equivalent, but you end up eating a greater quantity of food if you eat peaches instead of peanut butter. You’d be full most of the day because peaches contain fibre (in addition to vitamins, minerals, and the right amount of protein and fat). You’d probably struggle to eat all 45, yet you’d feel completely satisfied all day.
You never need to worry about eating too much fruit. There are no negative consequences to eating as many fruits and veggies as you want. High carb = more nutrients, more variety, more fibre, and more energy for walking, running, cycling, however you choose to be active day to day. Once you fuel your body with all the carbs and nutrients it needs, you’ll be bursting with energy! If you aren’t active now, you will be once you start eating HCLF.
High carb low fat in brief.
HCLF means the bulk of your calories come from healthy carbs: fruits, veggies, whole grains. No other diet contains as many fruits and veggies as HCLF.
The ideal macronutrient ratio for HCLF: 80% of your calories from healthy carbs, 10% from protein, and only 10% from fat. To easily keep track of your calories and ratio, I recommend tracking everything you eat in Cronometer. (Check out this post: How to use Cronometer.)
HCLF doesn’t mean you need to avoid ALL fats 24/7, just that you keep your fat intake to less than 10% of your daily calories. A few nuts or avocado are fine once in a while, but you can easily avoid these foods completely (if you wish) and still get plenty of fat from fruits and veggies alone.
For more information about HCLF, check out High carb low fat basics.
Focus on your health first, weight loss second.
I advocate for HCLF because of the health benefits associated with eating an abundance of fruits and veggies: increased energy, mental clarity, and clear skin. The main focus of HCLF is overall health and wellness.
That being said, an additional perk is that those following HCLF easily lose weight (or gain a healthy amount, depending on their starting body weight).
You can lose weight in many ways, most of them unhealthy and unsustainable. Instead, you should aim to follow a healthy lifestyle. Fruits and veggies should be the bulk of your diet because these are nutritionally complete foods full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and even protein and fat in the ratios we need.
Focus on these foods and weight loss will come naturally. High carbohydrate whole foods give you the energy you need to be active. Eating well and staying active means your weight will normalise over time. Best of all, this way of eating can be easily maintained for life. As I mentioned previously, eating high fat and avoiding carbs doesn’t work over long periods of time.
Why fight an uphill battle with low carb diets or haphazard eating? If you want to be healthy and lose weight and maintain this weight loss over the long-term, you must eat high carb. HCLF is the key to optimum health and weight management.