T Nation

Low Carb vs. Low Carb !!!

Can someone please explain why a high fat low carb diet is better than a high protein low carb diet for fat loss. I understand that excess protein can undergo gluconeogenesis as well as cause insulin secretion but I thought dietary fats were more easily stored even in the abscence of carbs. Also, doesn’t protein cause glucagon secretion and have the highest thermogenic effect thus keeping metabolism more elevated than dietary fats? Taking these things into consideration I just don’t see why a high fat low carb is better than a high protein low carb diet? If someone could give me an expalnation, I would be greatly appreciative.

Anybody…Anybody…Bueler?

Yeah, I too would like to know.
I have always used a high Pro, Low carb and 20-15% fat diet for losing the blubber (50,30,20). It seems to “feel” right and there’s no major muscle lost either. Seeing that I’m getting most of my fats from flax or fish oil & olive oil on this cutting plan, I too would like to know why dropping my protein by 10% and increasing my fat intake by 10% (40,30, 30) would make me lose more fat and hold more muscle than my current method.

I know there were studies suggesting that moderate (25-35%) fat intake corresponded with higher T levels than those on super low fat diets. But from memory, the studies didn’t seem to take into account the types of fat consumed.

I also love the way the “right numbers” keep changing from year to year ;-)

In 1995, the pre-fat days, the MM2k/Metrx mantra was p50/c35/f15.
And calories were to equal 10 x bw for dieting, 12 x bw for maintenance, and 15 x bw for growth. Boy have those numbers changed. You know the strangest thing is that it actually worked…and stranger still is that the current numbers/equations, such as the massive eating formulas also work. (for me anyway)

I think TC hit it right on the head ages back in the Chenko article when he said (and I’m paraphrasing here), You will start to see an effect whenever you take a close look at what goes into your pie-hole.
Eat more than you need for growth and less than you need for fat loss. Keeping in mind that

  1. super low fat is not perfect for growth or fat loss,
  2. that excessive carb consumption will make you a fat lump & high insulin impedes fat loss, and
  3. that protein is needed to build muscle as well as helping to retain LBW under times of caloric deficit (and when push comes to shove; fewer people get fat from protein binges)

I have read Will Brink's stuff and the late great, Dan Duchaine's work and I can see their points regarding fat intake…but seriously, unless you’re talking a CKD, I don’t think 10% either way on protein and fat (50 - 40%pro or 30 - 20%fat) is going to make a shit of difference. My personal view is unscientific & flawed but “works for me”. (BTW...I love playing with the new numbers and always try new ratios & protocols that come up. I'm not tied to my methods. These are just things I have noticed over the last 7 years)

My take of the whole low carb diet was that it be both high protein AND high fat when carbs are cut so that your body uses the fat for energy in place of the carbs. If it were only high protein & low carb wouldn’t your body start using the protein for energy instead of for building muscle? You need the fat for energy and calories and the protein for muscle building when carbs are cut. Anyone else agree?

Slate, thanks for the response. The ratio’s I was thinking of was like 70%fat and 30%protein (like BodyOpus or the Anabolic Diet) vs a diet that has protein make up like 60-70% (like when people reccomend getting rid of much excess dietary fat and ditching the carbs for max fat loss while keeping protein high). I’ve seen the higher type protein diet reccommended by Chris Aceto, Beverly International, Jay Robb, Skip LaCour, Chad Nicholls etc… It gets pretty confusing what to believe. I guess you could just try both out and see, but I am in a time crunch to lean out. Also, I am someone in which macronutrient ratios makes all the difference in the world.

Also, Tim Patterson now uses a 50P,40C,10F diet. Now he is already pretty ripped but I would guess that if he wanted to get even leaner he would just cut some carbs while maintaining his low dietary fat intake, thus ending up with the type of diet I described above.

Erin, I too always read about how excess protein gets gonverted to glucose. But on a hypocaloric diet I’m not sure how much that applies. Secondarily, people seem to forget that while protein can cause insulin secretion and gluoneogenesis it also helps elevate metabolism and cause glucagon secretion.

The one thing I have noticed while on a high fat plan is that my stomach always feels full and somewhat distended. I’m sure that’s because of fats slow digestion but it just does not feel right while your supposed to be on a diet.

The other thing I should mention is that when I am in deep ketosis I seem to go very very flat and fat loss seems to completely halt.

Granted this could also happen on a high protein plan…

Dev, this is a great topic, one that i’m trying to deal with myself right now. I KNOW that low carbs are the way to go, for health, fat loss, etc. But I keep reading different views on what is Optimal, high fat like Atkins, Anabolic Diet, BodyOpus, Lyle’s CKD and then there’s moderate fat like Jay Robbs Fat Burning Diet, Natural Hormonal Enhancement, Beverly Int., Dr. Serrano and coach Poliquin, Greenwich Diet. I’m even considering the warrior diet but eating only low carbs after my workout. Personally I get the same bloated feeling whenever I eat high fat and it bothers me, making me feel like I am getting fatter. When I eat super high protein (70-80%) and moderate fat (20-30) I feel tighter and feel It’s more optimal for fat loss, but it’s nowhere near as filling as the higher fat intake, I’m usually hungry all the time, even w/ over 350g protein a day. A question for anyone who know’s, if insulin and glucagon are opposite of one another, how does protein cause the release of both? It’s obvious that insulin needs to be controlled to optimize fat loss, but at what point does protein cause insulin release? I feel the high fat approach is a helluva lot easier and fun, but doens’t seem to work well for me and keeps a roll around my lower abs, and it’s still there the next morning, while a lower fat, low carb (almost zero carb for me) high protein diet tightens me up and my abs always feel tighter the next day. Also, from searches i’ve done on the net, the most impressive bodies i’ve seen were from people following high protein, low carbs and low fat. Check out Beverly’s site, as well as the pic of Paul Burton on the cover of Gen-Mags site, look up Neanderthins site, theres a review from Buddy Dreimann, Mr. USA, also check out Paleofitness, there’s a site from another Neanderthin follower that’s ripped to shreds. Hope I was of help and I’d like to hear input from others as well. One other thing, don’t discount food allergies as an example eggs are a common allergenic food and can cause bloating.

for pure weight loss all that matters is cals. burn more than you take in and you loose wt.

Flex, I just did a little experiment where in I followed a high fat low carb diet at just about 2500 cals, which is 500 above maintenance for me, for 1 week. Then, for 1 week I switched the ratios, eating 75%protein and about 25% fat. My exercise stayed exactly the same and no supplements were used. The results showed that I was tighter on the high protein vs high fat diet. Now keep in mind that this was a hypercaloric situation and I certainly wasn’t going to lose much if any fat, but for me it’s clear which style I’m better suited for. I would strongly reccomend that you try a similar experiment, except use maintenance cals instead of hyper. This is the only way you will know for sure what is best for you. It only takes two weeks of your life and you will pretty much be able to tell whats going on by looking in the mirror. Also, if you choose to do the high fat phase first then don’t get worried after one or two days on the high protein plan as you may gain some slight water weight, that quickly goes away. Try not to excessively salt your protein as to not blur your body comp. Please post here if you decide to do this, as I will be extremely interested in finding out your results.

Also the point about the protein allergy is so important! I get really bloated when I take in milk proteins like whey and casein. Tuna is also a problem for me. I've thought about taking an OTC anti-histamine to try and help with the intolerance, at least I don't think it could hurt. I actually do best on egg white protein powder, turkey, chicken, lean beef, and white fleshed fish. It is crucial to find foodstuffs that your body is best able to utilize as well as tolerate.

The question wasn’t addressing weight loss rather FAT loss during a low carb diet using either high protein or high fat. I’m not sure I understand what everyone is getting at here. A low carb diet is not 30% carbs but like 5-10%. Comparing the effectiveness of having a 50% protein 30% carb 20% diet to a 40-30-30 diet is too difficult. Why? Well, its because different ratios work for different people and 10% margin is that much of a change. As far as trying to achieve ketosis, then a low carb diet would force you to have high protein AND fat in proportion to total caloric intake.

Calories my man, calories…

Maclar and Heytey, read my last post, clearly it’s not all just calories. That is an important part no doubt(if not the most important). But macronutrient ratios are extremely impoeranrt as well. If calories were all that mattered then just go eat crap in a hypocaloric setting and get ripped.

I guess plans like JMB’s “Don’t Diet” are worthless, right? I mean the whole concept behind Berardi’s plan is to optimize macronutrient combinations and timing for fat loss, but John doesn’t know what he is talking about? By the way when did you get your PhD.'s fellas? Oh, and Serrano is an idiot for recc. high protein intake while keeping an eye on carbs, right? Did I hear that one of you guys just gratuated med school? Oh sorry, thought that was you, my mistake. Hey and if calories are all that mattered then it shouldn’t matter how many meals you eat a day either. Might as well just save up your calories for one large meal so at least you go to bed satisfied. Well except for one thing…The Warrior Diet sucks a big, fat, sweaty, donkey’s cock! While some people on here had success with it, it was amazing how many people reported the exact same thing: “it was good for about a week then everything just stopped. No more fat loss.” Boy, can you spell metabolic shutdown. And Biotest might as well start selling “Hostess Drive” or “Advanced Winchell’s”, just use on scoop instead of two if you’re on a diet! Nah, don’t worry about protein, efa’s etc…Whatever it’s your choice.

It sounds like you guys have been reading too much MFW. I just love MFW clones! Keep in mind two things 1)hardly any of the studies quoted on there are done on trained athletes who have a long history of dieting and experimentation. 2)everyone is very individual, and responds best to unique circumstances. It's great to use science as the cornerstone of your ideology, but real world application will always dominate. And in the real world, macronutrient ratios play a significant part in a succesful dieting regimen, *for most*. Just read Chris Shugart original article on his first attempt at the Anabolic Diet.

Anyway, believe it or not this was not a flame, but just a poor attempt at using humor to get my point across.

Scott, my original question was for comparing something like BodyOpus(70-75%fat, 20-25% protein, 5%carbs) vs almost the opposite, more along the lines of what many pro and “natural” bodybuilders use, Beverly International, Jay Robb etc…( about 70%protein, 20%fat, 10%carbs).I hope that makes it clearer.

Dev, totally agree it’s not all about calories, although important macronutrients effect hormones in the body and that’s at least as important as calories, if not more so. You made some good points about that topic and I have a few more points. Eating high glycemic carbs constantly causes insulin secretion. If insulin levels are constantly elevated, fat loss comes to a halt, this is well known and accepted. So if one just controls calories on processed carb/sugar filled garbage, the body won’t be able to burn fat, it will burn sugar and muscle. If you don’t eat enough protein, you burn muscle. Sure, you’re eating below maintenace, but your just burning muscle, so much for just cutting calories. And as explained in NHE, the body upregulated or downregulates metabolism based on calories, so there is some leeway and overeating or undereating a little will cause the body to burn at a faster or slower rate. The human body is not a simple system that will just get results by eating based on a mathematecal equation, figuring out calories. It’s much more complex than that. The calorie equation becomes even more complicated when you take into account that macro’s have different effects in the body. The calorie formula assumes all calories are burned as fuel. What about EFA’s that become imbedded in the cells which effect hormone levels, and protein that is used to replenish enzymes, as well as repair and grow muscle. Carbs are burned immediately, then the extra get stored in the liver, then muscle glycogen, and finally converted to saturated fat and stored in adipose cells. Another issue that isnt considered with calories is the thermic effect of foods. If one eats mostly protein, this raises metabolism and more calories are burnt in breaking down protein into aminos then in breaking down carbs or fats. I believe the Thermic effect or protein is 30% of calories to break it down as opposed to 5% or so for fat and carbs. I’m sure I have other points but I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I do think the best results come from high protein, low carbs and moderate fat, at least for most, and especially for me. I’m attempting the warrior diet at high protein, low carbs and fat (basically paleolithic eating), just b/c of convenience and the idea seems to make sense. I think many people failed by eating high carbs on this approach, which switches u back to insulin and prevents fat loss. The next day of fasting would just be burning sugar rather than fat b/c of the carbs eaten the night before. Another mistake with the diet is his recommendation of drinking coffee. Coffee raises insulin levels, again, if one is to use glucagon, the point of the fasting to release triglycerides from adipose cells, then raising insulin with coffee is counterproductive b/c glucagon and insulin are inversely related, when one’s high, the other is low. I’m not saying the Warrior Diet is the way to go, but I’m going to experiment with a Warrior/Paleo diet using 2.5 lbs of Top Round Steak, Olive Oil and Fish Oil, garlic and spinach as my food sources. If i’m unhappy with my progress i’ll go super high protein, very low carbs and moderately low fat. Dev, I think this is the best approach, at least for me. I wish I could get away with fatty ground beef and bacon every day, just doenst work for me. Anyway, keep me updated on your progress Dev, since I seem to be in the same boat as you. BTW, what are your current stats and goals. Mine are 6’3", 215 around 10% bf, dying to reach 5-6%.

Flex, excellent post. I too have concluded that a high protein,low carb diet is better than a high fat,low carb diet. This is based on my own experimentation. I would love it if the Warrior Diet worked, it would certainly make my life easier. I think that on a hypercaloric diet the Warrior plan might be very good. I’m just concerned that in a hypocaloric setting it sets you up for metabolic slowdown. I’ve found that multiple meals when eating excessive calories don’t really make much difference. However, when attempting to get lean, I feel it is important to eat small meals evey couple hours in order to keep your metabolism going, because you don’t have the luxury of a large dose of calories to keep you going for a longer duration. I’m just very concerned with metabolic slow down or “starvation mode” if you will, on a below maintenace plan. Of course, it is vital that you have your ratios in line for the best results. I’ve tried eating a lot of protein in one or two meals, but just didn’t find it optimum, especially when total calories were low. But, please keep us abrest of your progress and good luck.

I'm 5'7", 160lbs, about 10-12%b.f. I'd like to get to 4-5%b.f (which I have been at quite a few times before). It's amazing how one gets off track!

Couple questions for you:
1)is top round the leanest cut of beef? I use to think eye of round was. Although I don’t know how much different it makes.

2)What protein sources have you found to be the least problematic? For me, it’s been egg whites, beef, chicken, and turkey. Whey has been a major problem, as has tuna and cottage cheese, and of course any processed deli meats.

Thanks.

Top round is as lean as Eye Round but Top Round has a little more protein in it (talk about being anal). I understand your point about frequent feedings, but i’m trying to take into account a paleolithic approach as well, I don’t believe humans 50,000 years ago ate frequent small meals. I know that the approach works and that’s how i’ve always eaten, but now i’m experimenting. I read an interesting Q&A with Lyle McDonald Recently, author the The Ketogenic Diet. Anyway, he was asked about meal frequency, and there are quite a few studies that looked at frequency and weight loss. Basically if one eats 2000 calories in 2 meals or 6, there is no difference in weight loss, and no difference in the composition of weight loss (equal fat loss, muscle retention with either approach) Basically 2 meals raises the metabolism up much more, but less frequently and 6 meals raises it more frequently, but much less. The end result actually is the same, which is VERY interesting to me. Basically if this warrior diet doesn’t pan out for me, i’m going to attempt 4 meals a day, again high protein, low carbs and moderate fat. Also, with regards to the Lyle Q&A, studies showed that those who ate more calories in the evening loss less weight than those who stopped eating late afternoon/early evening. But get this, both groups lost the same amount of fat, the extra weight loss that resulted from not eating later came from muscle, so if you stop eating earlier, you risk losing more muscle.
In terms of protein sources, I prefer Red Meat all the way. I believe it is the healthiest food in the world, has the ideal Amino Acid profile, was eaten from thousands of years and tastes damn good, its the best food there is. It’s also the best source of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K. Contains essential B12, which isn’t absorbed from fat sources, and if beef is grassfed, (as all beef should be)is a great source of Omega 3’s as well as CLA. That’s my staple and usually only source of protein. Eggs for me are a no-no, even though I love them and their supposed to be the other ideal protein source, they make be bloated, and are actually a common food allergy for many people. I despise tuna and other fish, that’s why I use the Omega-3 fish oils. All protein powders make me bloated, turn my stomach and don’t sit right. I’ve tried them all, pure whey’s, casein’s, egg white proteins, they all have the same effect so I avoid them. Chicken and turkey are also good, but they get boring very fast. All cheeses, including cottage cheese make me bloated and gassy as well. Another thing about the ground beef, there are a couple reasons that we’re getting the problems we are from the fat intake. If you’re eating ground beef, I’ve read this before and Poliquin told me at a seminar, they sometimes add cheap filler to make the beef weigh more to make more money, they add wheat and soy powder which could be the reason from the reaction we’re getting. Another thing is the beef is grain fed, the fatty acid composition gets completely thrown off with grain fed beef, the omega-6:3 ratio may go as high as 20:1 where in grassfed beef its around 4:1 to 1:1, there’s more saturated fat from grain fed beef as well, not that saturated fat is unhealthy. It’s vital to our wellbeing. Another thing is when the beef was fed grain/corn that the proteins from these food can become imbedded in the muscle itself, therefore the reaction of bloating could be an allergy to wheat/corn (again, very common) and thats why we’re reacting the way we are.

 I've written a couple of posts on the book 'Natural Hormonal Enhancement' by Rob Faigin and think it has a few things to say about this debate. A quick disclaimer, I am definitely not an expert on this and I've only been on this diet for about a month so I'm still learning. 
 Rob's view is that weight loss is a hormonal activity based on whether you are a sugar burner or a fat burner. If the body has sugar (complex carbs, simple carbs, simple sugars) it will burn those preferentially. If it does not have the sugars it will burn fat. If it burns sugars, this causes an insulin response that stores fat. If it burns fat there is a limited insulin response. The body also needs protein to repair and build up tissue. If the body also burns protein this can provide an insulin response like burning sugar but not as much and the body can usually take 40-50 grams of protein at a meal with out too much of an insulin response. So this diet requires one to start off with a seven day stretch of virtually no carbs so that all the glycogen is burned up in the body. This forces the body to burn only fat. Once this preliminary stage is over, you start a low carb/higher fat,protein diet. The amount of carbs is 20-60 grams per day. The amount of protein is based on your personal needs with no more than 50 grams per meal and then the rest is made up of fat based on how many calories you require. Obviously try to get a lot of good fats for your fat intake. 
 So far this is just a low carb/high protein/moderate fat diet but this is where the diet is unique. Being on a low carb diet all the time can down regulate the thyroid which is detrimental to weight loss. It also can become very boring long term. And finally. while insulin causes us to put on fat, it also is necessary to help shuttle protein into the cells and for the release of growth hormone and testosterone. In order to maximise the good actions of insulin and minimize the bad, this diet requires you to have one to two meals twice a week that are low fat, protein/ high carb. This releases insulin which keeps the thyroid working well, helps with the release of growth hormone and gives variety to the diet. After the high carb meal, you start back into low carb meals which keeps you in prime fat burning mode. This makes for not so much a diet but a lifestyle way of eating. It maximises fat loss hormonally, takes away the cravings and gives a lot more variety than most diets. Rob also claims that this causes you to be in an optimum muscle building state from an hormonal standpoint. My subjective feeling is that he is correct but once again I have only been on this diet for one month. I've lost fat and except for the first week where I was making the shift from sugar burner ot fat burner and my lifting sucked, I have continued to increase my poundage during lifting. 
 Sorry for the long post but I would be interested in others view of this. I can also recommend the book. It is not the last word on diets but it has some good things to say.

hate to tell ya budy bot I ain’t got no pdh. anyway I also hate to tell ya but the it rely doesn’t seem to matter if you eat three x’s or twelve times per day. the most recent study that I saw that actualy collected the waste from the subjects showed no difference in waste make up regardless of how often meals were consumned. now I will admitt that in HIGHLY trained athletes there MIGHT be a difference but I don’t think it would realy be noticeable. I do think there are other reasons to munipulate macro makeup, energy, recovery, etc… but my personal belief is that as long as you don’t have deficiencies and are getting enough of each it all comes down to cals. peace hetyey225

Heytey, what does waste have to do with it. Please post this study and enlighten me, I would’nt mind learning something new.

I don’t know what pdh. stands for.

Your latest post states: “I do think there are other reasons to munipulate macro makeup, energy, recovery, etc… but my personal belief is that as long as you don’t have deficiencies and are getting enough of each it all comes down to cals”.

This is much different than just stating: "for pure weight loss all that matters is cals. burn more than you take in and you loose wt." Actually it's worlds apart.

Lastly eating one meal a day is much different than eating three times a day. besides this was not the main issue I had taken up with you.

But hey, eat anything you want, whenever you want, and then go measure your feces. If it works for you, great.

the point of measureing the waste was that there was no difference in the makeup regarless of number of meals consumed, meaning the subjects were extracting the same nutrients from the food regarless of frequency of consumption. I’ll look for it now so I can give you more info on it but give me some time 'cause I’m a slob:-)
and what I said are not world appart, ass long as you have what you “need” cals are what matter, atleast I do not think most would ever notice any difference. hetyey225

Don’t waste your time. Measuring the amount of nutrients absorbed has nothing to do with the metabolic effects of frequent feedings on the endocrine system, specifically Leptin.

And sorry but yes, saying just eat lower calories is worlds apart, in fact galaxies apart, from saying as long as you get what you need then you can just eat lower calories. There is a huge difference in eating lower cals while getting at least 1 gram of protein/lb and adequate EFA’s versus eating the same amount of low calories wherein there is inadequate protein and efa’s but rather an abundance of sugar, sat fat, and flour. If you can’t see that as well as admit to your faulty logic then that’s just too bad. But you are not going to convince me otherwise, sorry.