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It is an endless debate between proponents of low carb diet vs high carb diet, and it often gets confusing for the people to choose from the two. So, treat this article as a guide to help you decide which is the best for you and help you reach your goals faster.

There have been many contradictory studies on the intake of carbs and their effects. One study called PURE published in 2017 made headlines when they discovered that low carb and high-fat diet is the answer to a long and healthy life. In contrast, another study called ARIC found that a low carb diet could reduce your life expectancy by five years.

Got even more confused, right? We understand the feeling, and we are here to help you. By the end of the article, you will find out what's best for your body.

How much is Low carb & High carb?

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Before discussing the appropriate carbohydrate intake for optimizing your fitness, we must first understand how low-carb and high-carb are classified.

Carbohydrate consumption is often described in studies as a percentage of energy rather than an amount in grams. As a result, there is no universally accepted definition of low or high carbohydrate intake — but more than 45 per cent of total calorie intake is considered high, while less than 26 per cent is deemed to be low.

However, the definitions employed in the PURE and ARIC research were not the same. For example, PURE classified carbohydrate consumption above 60% as high-carb, whereas ARIC, which studied the eating patterns of around 15,000 people in the United States for 25 years, considered 70 per cent and above to be a high carb intake. Therefore, the percentage could vary, but up and above 50 per cent of total calorie intake can be considered as high carb intake, and around 20 per cent or below would be low.

Carb Diet vs High Carb Diet:

Effectiveness On Fat Loss

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A low carb diet and a high carb diet are equally effective for fat loss over a long period. However, a recent study suggests that a low carb diet might be more effective for fat loss in a shorter period. In research conducted over 12 months, it was found that athletes who were on a low carb diet could lose fat quicker than the placebo group. In addition, a low carb diet benefits cardiometabolic health and helps in improving triglycerides and HDL levels. Therefore, low carb diets produce better fat loss results in a shorter period, but the effects for both diets are similar in the long run. So, choosing a diet that you can stick to for the long haul might be the best option.

Effectiveness on Insulin Sensitivity

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In preliminary randomized controlled trials performed within a study, it was found that people with relative insulin resistance (IR) respond more favorably to a low-carbohydrate diet, while those people more insulin sensitive (IS) get better results from a higher carbohydrate diet. Therefore, insulin sensitivity is a strong predictor of how people respond to a specific diet. Furthermore, insulin-sensitive subjects lose weight and feel better on high-carb diets, while insulin-resistant subjects get better results from carbohydrate-restricted diets.

Effectiveness on Glycogen Levels

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Glycogen is a form of stored glucose in the human body that acts as a readily available energy source for doing any physical work. Carbohydrate is the primary source of providing glucose to your body. Therefore, the question arises: What happens when you follow a low carb or keto diet with minimal amounts of carbohydrates available? So, in numerous short-term studies, it was found that glycogen levels reduces in your body when following a keto or a low carb diet. But more recently, in a long-term (20 months) study comparing a high carb (about 60% calories from carbs) vs low-carb (about 10% calories from carbs) diet in ultra-endurance athletes, no appreciable differences were found out in either resting muscle glycogen or the level of depletion after 180 min of running. Therefore, a long-term keto or low carb diet results in the same adaptation of muscle glycogen levels as of high carbohydrates diet.

The Bottom Line

So, as you can see, there is no significant difference as to which diet can bring you superior results and which one is better than the other. It all depends on the kind of diet you can adhere to for the long term. And at the end of the day, a balanced diet is still the one that is calories, protein and nutrient sufficient. And the rest you can keep varying up from time to time to make it enjoyable.


Nordmann, A. J., Nordmann, A., Briel, M., Keller, U., Yancy, W. S., Brehm, B. J., & Bucher, H. C. (2006). Effects of Low-Carbohydrate vs Low-Fat Diets on Weight Loss and Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166(3), 285.

Santos, F. L., Esteves, S. S., da Costa Pereira, A., Yancy Jr, W. S., & Nunes, J. P. L. (2012). Systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors. Obesity Reviews, 13(11), 1048–1066.

Hession, M., Rolland, C., Kulkarni, U., Wise, A., & Broom, J. (2009). A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. Obesity Reviews, 10(1), 36–50.

Bueno, N. B., de Melo, I. S. V., de Oliveira, S. L., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(7), 1178–1187.

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