By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM
We’ve come a long way from the days of carb-heavy, low fat diets touting “all calories are created equal.” Recent findings demonstrate that your success in dieting may be about more than calories in/calories out. A side by side comparison of low fat, low carb and low glycemic index diets shows that our bodies respond very differently to these three approaches to weight loss.
Although low carb diets have the biggest impact on weight loss (about 350 extra calories burned per day), they may also create stress on your body’s cardiovascular system and leave you gasping during anything more than a modest workout.
A low glycemic index diet emphasizing unprocessed, whole foods is probably your healthiest approach over time, giving you enough carbs to fuel your workouts and burning an extra 150 calories per day over a low fat approach to dieting. Low glycemic index foods are also associated with better indications for heart health, making this a more tolerable diet in the long term.
If you want to drop a few pounds quickly, low carb can be helpful but you’ll probably need to dial your workouts back to a moderate approach (think 20-40 minutes of low end aerobic training per day). For the long term, a low glycemic index diet combined with more intense workouts (think intervals or hills 2-3 times per week or workouts of more than 60 minutes per day) is probably your best bet for fitness and weight control.
For more information on eating according to the glycemic index, check out this link or find a list of the glycemic index of 100 common foods here.
Weigh In: Are you using your home fitness workouts to control or lose weight? How are you combining diet and workouts for the most effective plan?