Low fat or low carb? Which is the better way to lose weight?

Should you skip that bowl of pasta when trying to lose weight? Experts say not necessarily. 

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Is a very low carb diet a good way to lose and keep off weight?

Stephanie Hillyer, a dietitian at LaPorte Hospital, said a very low carb diet, such as the ketogenic diet, can help people lose weight initially because of the restriction of calories. But she says it's not sustainable for most dieters.

The ketogenic diet, for instance, is high in fat and protein. She said eating that way can lead to a rise in saturated fat consumption, which increases the risk for heart disease. Cutting out carbs also reduces the intake of healthy food groups such as fruits and whole grains, which are high in fiber and vitamins and minerals.

"In the end, eating a well-balanced diet including lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins and whole grains, while controlling portion sizes and staying physically active is the key to successful and sustainable weight loss," she said.

Dr. Sarah Chaudhari, an obesity medicine specialist with Community Healthcare System, said her patients have had successes with low carb diets — 30 percent carbs, 40 percent protein and 30 percent fat. However, she doesn't recommend very low carb diets, which limit carb intake to 30 grams or less per day.

"When you're decreasing carbs that much, you're compensating with more fat," she said. "When you start introducing carbs back into your diet, you can experience rebound weight gain."

She added that if a person already has issues with their cholesterol, a high-fat diet can exacerbate them.

Do you have a health- or fitness-related question? The Times will get it answered for you. Email it to health reporter Giles Bruce at giles.bruce@nwi.com or call (219) 853-2584.

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Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.