When it comes to choosing a diet to follow, there are a lot of options out there. And while anyone can pick a diet that works well for their lifestyle, Rachel Paul, PhD, RD from CollegeNutritionist.com, says that there’s one diet, in particular, that would be considered the worst diet for weight loss. She says a diet focused on low-protein, low-fat, and high-carb generally doesn’t work well for people.
“Weight loss comes from being in a calorie deficit, and since higher fat and protein diets are more physically filling than low-fat diets, a person on a calorie-restricted, high carb diet will be more likely to be very hungry,” says Paul.
Paul does recognize that different ways of eating certainly work for different people. But when looking at a high-carb diet that is low in protein and fat, she says it generally won’t work for people—particularly when looking at satiety levels.
“When a person is losing weight, and then maintaining that lost weight, it’s much easier to continue on with a way of eating if they’re physically satiated,” says Paul.
Here’s a deeper look at why a diet focused on only carbs won’t work, and what you should focus on instead. And for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Why a high-carb focus doesn’t always work.
First, it’s important to note the types of carbs that are consumed. Even though low-carb and keto diets have become popular over the past few years, it’s not bad for your body to have carbs. In fact, complex carbohydrates—like oats and beans—are some of the best ways to get dietary fiber in your diet, which is incredibly important for overall weight loss.
However, if a high-carb diet was filled up with simple, refined carbs, it would be harder for the dieter to lose weight long term. A diet that is full of carbohydrates that have been stripped of their natural dietary fiber won’t leave you feeling full, and will cause you to be even hungrier. Especially if you’re not mixing in protein and healthy fats.
Should I cut carbs for good then?
While there are a lot of studies and books that show you why a focus on a low-carb diet works for weight loss, diets focused on high-protein, high-fat, and low-carb generally don’t have enough fiber in it. And fiber is important for digestion, warding off autoimmune disease, and weight loss in general.
Even though carbohydrates are not considered an “essential” food, according to Healthline, there are a lot of foods with carbohydrates that are full of good nutrients for your body—like fruits and vegetables.
Now that we’ve debunked this myth, here are 15 Carbs Myths That Are Totally Bogus.
Getting a variety of carbs with protein and fats is best.
Time-and-time again, a diet that focuses on the combination of all the macronutrients works well for weight loss. So if a high-carb diet is the worst diet for weight loss, then a medium-carb, medium-protein, and medium-fat diet would be the best—similar to how you would follow the best overall diet for weight loss.
Having all three macronutrients in your diet is key for overall satiety from your meals, so without them, your body is less likely to feel full with just carbohydrates. Especially if those carbohydrates are refined and processed.
Having protein in your diet helps to reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin.
Foods that are high in fat are the last to leave your digest tract, so by having a good amount of healthy fats in your diet—like avocados—you’ll feel full for longer periods of time.
And lastly, carbohydrates that are high in dietary fiber will release leptin, which is the hunger hormone that turns on your body’s fullness switch. Plus, fiber also moves slowly in your digestive tract.
So if you’re enjoying a smashed avocado on a slice of whole-grain toast, you’re going to feel full for hours. Add a fried egg on top and you have yourself the perfect meal. And for more healthy carbs to add to your diet, bookmark our list of 28 Carbs That Won’t Make You Fat.