|March 7, 2024

A Low-Carb Diet Helps Shed Body Fat, Even if the Scale Doesn’t Change

By Julie Hand
Reviewed by Emily Gonzalez, ND for Scientific Accuracy

A Low-Carb Diet Helps Shed Body Fat, Even if the Scale Doesn’t Change

A study[1] published in American Heart Association journal, Circulation, has found that a low-carb diet was better than a low-fat diet at reducing people’s body fat—even if the weight they lost was minimal. The study used MRI imaging technology to observe changes in organ fat distribution, and concluded that a Mediterranean, low carb (Med/LC) diet, along with moderate exercise, reduced the amount of some fat deposits—even if the scale barely budged. This may be a step in the right direction for the American Heart Association.

A low-fat diet won’t decrease organ body fats, but a low-carb diet will

The study divided 278 sedentary adults into two groups. Group one ate a low-fat diet while group two ate a low-carb diet that was rich in fats. In addition, some participants chose to exercise moderately at least three times a week.

The MRI results revealed the Med/LC diet to be better than the low-fat diet at decreasing deep abdominal visceral fat, intrahepatic fat around the liver, intra-pericardial fat surrounding the heart, and pancreatic fat. Meanwhile, fat around the kidneys and neck were only impacted by weight management, rather than diet or exercise habits. What this demonstrates is that, with exercise, a diet rich in fat and low in carbs improves your risk markers for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases by melting away dangerous fats that surround the organs. In fact, the fat deposit decreases from diet and exercise may be more significant than any number on the scale.

Eat more fat for appetite suppression

One of the keys to the Med/LC diet is that it’s high in healthy fats, like omega-3s found in fish. However, it may also promotes processed vegetable oils that are unstable and prone to oxidation, which is not good for your heart (or waistline). Just last week, an animal study found that canola oil is bad for the brain. Instead, focus on natural, stable fats found in grass-fed beef and butter, avocados, wild salmon, and coconut oil, to name a few. These foods, as part of a low-carb diet, help to stabilize your blood sugar and leave you feeling more satiated.

You may even want to consider a ketogenic-type diet like Bulletproof. The result of a ketogenic diet (high fat, moderate protein, low carbs) is that your body starts to burn fat as fuel rather than carbs – all the while, building up ketones in your body. Ketones are key to keep your hunger hormones (ghrelin and CCK) in check. Hunger hormones sated, you’ll say goodbye to a ravenous appetite and hello to long-term weight management. Yes, the number on the scale will likely drop, but more importantly, the high-fat, low-carb diet is dramatically more effective than a low-fat diet at minimizing those morbid fat storage sites.

Key takeaways

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