The aim of any diet is to reduce the number of calories that the body uses for energy so that the body will use its fat storage to provide energy. So, if this is the case, should you choose a low calorie diet over a low carb diet?
Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD)
Anyone considering a very low calorie diet should first check with their physician (this is generally good advice and should be apply for anyone thinking about starting a diet, especially if they have health concerns). A VLCD plan allows for no more than 800 calories per day. This low calorie intake can cause side effects. Even if you try to provide some balance in the nutritional intake (eating fruits, vegetables, or nutritionally balanced formulas), this is just too low to provide the nutrients the body needs and the body will go into semi-starvation mode. This will cause you to lose weight but it also cause important tissue loss as well.
When the calories are cut too low, protein and muscle tissue will be lost as the body will start to use some of these tissues to provide energy.
Low Calorie Diets
These diet plans are fairly simple and only allows for 1500 to 1800 calories per day. What I don’t like about this is that it allows you to eat anything as long as you count your calories and ensure that you do not go over your calorie limit. I would much rather a focus on healthy foods that provides a balanced nutrition. I love cheesecake and I could see me eating 1500 to 1800 calories of cheesecake on a daily basis!
Side Effects of Low Calorie Diets
The body can manifest a number of side effects when going on a too low calorie diet. These are constipation, nausea, diarrhea, gout, gallstones, dry skin and hair loss. It is advised that children, adolescents and pregnant women not go on this diet.
In general, it is suggested that dietary supplements should be taken when on a low calorie diet. This helps to replenish the body. Also, in the early parts of the diet, you should plan on getting a little hungry. After a while, though, your body will adjust to the feelings of slight hunger.
Low Carb Diets
Low carb diets have several advantages over other diets. Some of these are:
Lose weight effectively with a balanced nutrition.
Healthy cholesterol levels.
Improved triglycerides levels.
Lowers blood glucose levels in diabetics and prediabetics.
Lowers insulin level.
Improves mental health and well being.
It seems that a VLCD does have its place as a 1997 study showed that it is an effective way for overly obese people with Type 2 diabetes to lose a substantial amount of weight. Other than this, a very low calorie diet is not a diet I would feel very comfortable about. The less stringent low calorie diet, eating whatever you feel like as long as you count your calories, is also not for me, though a lot of people don’t seem to mind this.