Which is better for fat loss: low-fat or low-carb diets? It is still a much debated topic, while scientific research on this point is actually very clear.
The conclusion? With an equal calorie intake, the diets are equally effective for fat loss. It’s all about making sure your calorie deficit is big enough. Losing weight is basically a matter of calories in, calories out. The differences between low-fat and low-carb are marginal at best.
Also as a bodybuilder you don’t have to worry so much about low-fat and low-carb. The most important thing is that you maintain an adequate energy deficit (20-25% of your maintenance level) and that you eat enough protein (around 2 kg per kg body weight).
Coach and author Menno Henselmans contributed to a voluminous meta-analysis that shows that the amount of carbohydrates and fats does not matter much for strength training performance – it is mainly a matter of personal preference.
DIET AS AN IDEOLOGY
Still, low-fat versus low-carb remains a much-debated topic. According to Henselmans, this is mainly because dieting is often seen as an ideology. Just think of intermittent fasting, keto, vegan and so on. Connectedness improves intrinsic motivation and that makes it easier to implement a certain diet, according to Henselmans. But also:
It can become a problem if you become a zealot and you let the feelings get in the way of the facts.
We, who usually view weight loss from a bodybuilding perspective, also have a preference, namely to eat as many carbohydrates as possible in the cut. Carbohydrates have several benefits in terms of exercise performance and muscle maintenance. We therefore recommend only using a minimal intake of fat in the cut (0.5-1 g/kg/d), in addition to the intake of proteins around 2 g/kg/d, evenly distributed throughout the day (3-6 meals). What remains are the carbohydrates.
This is, again, a personal preference, although this distribution of macronutrients for bodybuilders is more or less substantiated by a scientific review by coach Eric Helms.
For fat loss, it doesn’t matter whether you go low-fat or low-carb. For muscle preservation (in the cut) we prefer high-carb. The most important thing, however, is an adequate calorie deficit (20-25%) and sufficient protein (~2g/kg/d), evenly distributed throughout the day.