Article – Weight Loss, High Carbohydrate Diet for Weight Loss

Are you confused by all of the hype of eating a low-carbohydrate diet to lose weight? A new study shows that eating a High-Carbohydrate Diet is better for long-term weight loss! And as many of you know, eating this style of diet is much better for long-term health.

I am listed on a website for individuals to find nutritionist and health coaches. Individuals specify the health concern they would like to address. Almost all of the requests I receive are regarding weight loss. And you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that almost all of the individuals are following a low-carbohydrate diet. The media, the Paleo movement, books like Wheat Belly and Grain Brain have done a tremendous job convincing the American people that carbohydrates are “The Cause” of weight gain and other ailments like diabetes. If this approach worked so amazingly, why are all of these individuals still looking for help? A new study confirms that a high-carbohydrate diet works better than a high-fat diet for achieving satiety and for reducing the desire to eat high-fat foods.[i]

What I find interesting when speaking with individuals that do believe carbohydrates are the cause of weight gain, is what foods they consider “carbs”. When asked what they mean by “carbs”, they typically list: pizza, donuts, cookies, French fries, and chips. I agree, that these are foods we don’t want to be consuming and absolutely contribute to weight gain. But whole plant foods are a great source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and “good” carbohydrates. Foods such as, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and even potatoes contribute not only to weight loss but overall health.[ii]

An important point about our physiology, that people may not be aware of, is how easy it is for our bodies to turn dietary fat into stored fat. In fact, it only takes 3% of the calories to make this conversion. On the other hand, it takes 30% of the calories to turn dietary carbohydrate to stored fat, a processed called de novo lipogenesis. Our bodies can also store up to 2 pounds of excess glucose invisibly as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Our bodies will also burn excess carbohydrates as heat and max out glycogen stores before storing any of it as fat. 

High-carbohydrate diets are more effective for weight loss for a number of reasons. They provide a sense of fullness while eating fewer calories because of their fiber content. Participants in the study reported feeling more full after consuming low-fat high-carbohydrate foods even though the calorie content was lower. The opposite was true for participants eating high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods. After a high-fat meal they wanted more high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods. Other studies have shown that people seek to consume a constant weight of food regardless of calorie content.[iii] Eating a whole food plant-based diet, high-carbohydrate, allows people to consume the same amount, or even greater amount of food while reducing calorie intake. [iv]

Teaching individuals to eat the right foods is a much better option than teaching them to eat smaller portions of all foods and will allow them to feel satisfied while losing weight. Controlling portion sizes is the typical dietary approach used for weight loss. However, researchers have shown that teaching people how to eat lower-calorie foods leads to more weight loss than restricting portions of higher-fat foods.[v]

Eating a low-fat, plant-based dietary pattern makes weight loss easier and much more likely to occur than portion control. Our approach at Healthy Forks is to teach individuals to change their lifestyle, transition to eating a low-fat whole foods plant based diet, eat 5 to 6 small meals a day and to remove foods from their house that they don’t want to be consuming. This approach is not only the best approach for weight loss but also leads to the best long-term health outcomes. For more information become a member today and take advantage of our many resources.

Nicole Younkin, Health Advisor, Nutrition Educator



[i] Hopkins M, Gibbons C, Caudwell P, Blundell J, Finlayson G. “Differing effects of high-fat or high-carbohydrate meals on food hedonics in overweight and obese individuals.” Br J Nutr may 2016;115(1):1875-1884

[ii] Drozek, D., Diehl H., Nakazawa M., et al. “Short-Term Effectiveness of a Lifestyle Intervention Program for Reducing Selected Chronic Disease Risk Factors in Individuals Living in Rural Appalachia: A Pilot Cohort Study”. Adv Prev Med. 2014: 798184

[ii] Kottler BM, Ferdowsian HR, Barnard ND. “Effects of plant-based diets on plasma lipids”. Am J Cardiol 2009;104:947–956

[ii] Dewell A., Weidner G., Summer MD., et al. “A very-low-fat vegan diet increases intake of protective dietary factors and decreases pathogenic dietary factors”. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Feb;108:347-56

[ii] Barnard R., Gonzalez J., Liva M., et al. “Effects of a Low-Fat, High-Fiber Diet and Exercise Program on Breast Cancer Risk Factors In Vivo and Tumor Cell Growth and Apoptosis In Vitro”, Nutrition and Cancer, 2006 55,28-34.

[ii] Barnard N., Cohen J., Jenkins D., et al. “A low-fat vegan diet and conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial”, Am J Clin Nutr 2009 May;89:1588S-1596S.

[ii] Key T., Fraser G., Thorogood M., et al. “Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies”. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Sep;70:516S-524S

[ii] Tai Le L., Sabate J., “Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts”, Nutrients. 2014 June; 6:2131-2147

[iii] Poppitt S, Prentice A. (1996). Energy density and its role in the control of food intake: evidence from metabolic and community studies. Appetite April 1996;26(2):153-174

[iv] Ello-Martin J, Ledikwe J, Rolls B. “The influence of food portion size and energy density on energy intake: implications for weight management.” Am J Clin Nutr July 2005;82(1):236S-241S

[v] Ello-Martin J, Ledikwe J, Rolls B. “The influence of food portion size and energy density on energy intake: implications for weight management.” Am J Clin Nutr July 2005;82(1):236S-241S

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