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Healthy Weight Center

Low Fat or Low Sugar Diets- Which Is Better?



I would like to know what is more efficient when dieting, eating foods low in sugar or low in fat? I`ve read articles that say if you give up sugar you will loose 5 to 10 pounds in a week. Is this true?


Thank you for your question.  Fat-laden foods contain more kilocalories/gram than sugar-laden foods contain.  There are 9 kilocalories/gram of fat compared with 4 kilocalories/gram of sugar.  In terms of volume (one consideration in feeling satisfied), you can eat more sugar than fat if the kilocalories are equal.  From this standpoint, you might feel full on less high sugar foods than on high fat foods.

From a different standpoint, fat does not leave the stomach as quickly as sugar so you might feel satisfied longer with the fat.  Often sugar and fat are found together so it can be difficult to eat one without the other. 

Your reference to losing 5 to 10 pounds in a week by avoiding sugar really relates to avoiding all carbohydrates (sugar and starch).  When you eliminate this important group of foods from your diet the result is a rapid loss of fluid because the body will use all of the available glycogen (storage form of carbohydrate in the body) for energy, and glycogen contains water.  The rapid weight loss is not the fat you want to lose, but water your body is holding.  When you eat carbohydrate again, water is once again stored so weight will increase.

Foods which are low to moderate in sugar and low in fat (fruits, vegetables and whole grains) are your best choices for losing weight.  These foods contain fiber which provides the feeling of satisfaction and they are low in kilocalories - the winning combination you want!

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Response by:

Shirley A Kindrick, PhD Shirley A Kindrick, PhD
Former Team Leader of Comprehensive Weight Management
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University