Carbohydrate Restriction vs Calorie Restriction – Which Works BEST?

This is the age old debate that people who are into health and wellness are debating. One school is the intermittent fasting proponents who aim to reduce total calorie count by limiting the hours whereby they actively consume food. In another group, you have the people who look at the macronutrients they ingest, and judiciously steer clear of carbohydrates in favour of protein and fat.

The reasons why people will embark on any diets are varied, but it usually boils down to two main reasons— to slow down the aging process and to lose weight. Let’s find out which diet comes out top in each of these categories.


Age-related diseases are rising rapidly, that explains the fixation by many to slow down the aging process with dietary modifications.

Calorie restriction has been studied for many years and has been shown to increase lifespan and delay age-related diseases. However, studies have also pointed out that caloric restriction is not for everyone. Carbohydrate restriction, rather than caloric restriction, is a better option. In fact, in the aging population, a low carbohydrate diet is more effective as preserving muscle mass, decreasing inflammation and increasing longevity. An aging population needs the dietary support from adequate protein and fat to prevent muscle loss, brain and memory deterioration. A diet low in carbohydrates yet adequate in fats, proteins and nutrients can help reverse these aging processes. Studies have shown that in an aging population, carbohydrate restriction, with higher or adequate fat and higher or adequate protein intakes is beneficial in aging as it decreases inflammatory markers, enhances insulin sensitivity, triggers mitochondrial biogenesis, lowers aging serum factors, leads to better weight control. In general, the outcomes from various studies demonstrate that a low carbohydrate diet and not just a decreased caloric intake, improves metabolic changes associated with aging and increases lifespan.


Weight loss

Studies conducted on weight loss based on both calorie restriction and carbohydrate restriction found that just after 6 months, people placed on low-carbohydrate diets lose a lot more weight than those who merely restricted their calories. And I’m not just talking about a couple pounds. On average, low-carb dieters lost 7 (and as much as 11) more pounds over the course of 6 months than those on a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet.

This may seem puzzling especially since the carbohydrate-restrictive diet did not actually limit the total number of calories consumed. Instead, they are given instructions to restrict the types and amounts of carbohydrates they eat. They are told to eat until they feel satisfied, not hungry anymore, but not stuffed. But when you think about it, it does make sense after all. When you eat fewer carbohydrates, you are automatically going to be eating more protein and fat, two nutrients that signal your body that you are full and satisfied. This ultimately results in you eating fewer calories.

As you can see, focusing on eating fewer carbohydrates (which a have 4 calories per gram) causes you to eat fewer total calories. You’ll be eating more foods that signal your body that you are full and satisfied. This two-pronged approach to eating less will yield more weight loss every time.

For more information on tailored weight loss programs, you can consult Dr Low Chai Ling or any doctor from SW1 Clinic.

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