Low Carb vs Low Glycemic Diet: Which Is Better?

When it comes to choosing a diet plan, the options can be overwhelming. Two popular choices are the low-carb diet and the low-glycemic diet. While they may seem similar, they have distinct differences that can impact your health and weight loss journey.

This article will delve into the specifics of each diet, their benefits, and potential drawbacks, to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Low Carb and Low Glycemic Diets

A low-carb diet, as the name suggests, involves reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing proteins and fats. This diet can lead to quick weight loss as it forces the body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs 1. However, it’s essential to choose healthy sources of fats and proteins to avoid increasing the risk of heart disease 2.

On the other hand, a low-glycemic diet focuses on the quality of carbohydrates rather than the quantity. It encourages the consumption of foods that have a low glycemic index (GI), meaning they cause a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar levels 3. This diet can help manage or prevent diabetes and heart disease 4.

The Science Behind the Diets

When choosing a diet, understanding the science behind how they work can help make an informed decision. Both low-carb and low-glycemic diets have been shown to aid in weight loss, but they affect the body differently 1,3.

Weight Loss and Metabolic Boost

Research consistently shows that both low-carb and low-glycemic diets can lead to weight loss. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a low-glycemic diet might offer more benefits for long-term weight maintenance 5.

The low-glycemic diet can provide a significant metabolic boost without causing undesirable side effects. This metabolic boost is primarily due to the way the body processes low-glycemic foods 6.

The Role of Glucose Release in Metabolism

Low-glycemic foods cause a slow and steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. This gradual release is beneficial for several reasons. First, it prevents sudden spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to feelings of hunger and overeating 7.

Second, the slow release of glucose keeps the metabolism active for longer periods. The body has to work harder and longer to process these foods, leading to an increase in calorie burn. Participants in the study burned approximately 125 more calories per day while following the low-glycemic plan compared to a low-fat diet 8.

Long-Term Benefits of a Low-Glycemic Diet

The long-term benefits of a low-glycemic diet extend beyond weight loss. By preventing rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels, this diet can help manage or prevent conditions like diabetes and heart disease. It also promotes feelings of fullness, which can prevent overeating and help maintain weight loss over time 9.

In conclusion, while both low-carb and low-glycemic diets can lead to weight loss, the low-glycemic diet appears to offer additional benefits for metabolic health and long-term weight maintenance. As always, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan 10.

The Low-Carb Diet and Metabolism: A Closer Examination

The low-carb diet, while effective for weight loss, also impacts the body’s metabolic processes. This diet can indeed boost metabolism, but it also comes with potential drawbacks that are important to consider 1.

Cortisol and the Low-Carb Diet

One of the significant findings from the study was that the low-carb diet led to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone that the body produces in response to stress. Cortisol plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including metabolism, immune response, and the body’s response to stress 11.

However, elevated cortisol levels, particularly over an extended period, can have adverse effects. Cortisol is known to promote fat storage, especially in the abdominal area. This fat storage can counteract the weight loss benefits of a low-carb diet and potentially lead to weight gain over time 12.

Moreover, high cortisol levels can disrupt other bodily functions, leading to issues such as sleep disturbances, digestive problems, and even depression or anxiety 13.

CRP Levels and Health Risks

The low-carb diet was also found to increase levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein that the liver produces in response to inflammation. High levels of CRP are often a sign of inflammation in the body, which can be a response to various conditions, including infections and autoimmune diseases 14.

However, chronic inflammation, indicated by persistently high CRP levels, is associated with an increased risk of several serious diseases. These include heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer 15.

While the low-carb diet can lead to quick weight loss, the potential increase in cortisol and CRP levels is a significant consideration. These factors may raise the risk of developing chronic diseases, making it crucial to consider these potential risks when choosing a diet plan 16.

In conclusion, while the low-carb diet can boost metabolism and promote weight loss, it’s essential to consider the potential long-term effects on cortisol and CRP levels. As always, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan 2.

Balancing Weight Loss and Health Risks

While the low-carb diet may lead to quicker weight loss due to a higher metabolic rate, the potential increase in cortisol and CRP levels is a significant consideration. These factors may raise the risk of developing chronic diseases, making the low-glycemic diet a potentially safer option for long-term health and weight maintenance.

In conclusion, while both diets can lead to weight loss, the low-glycemic diet appears to offer a balance between weight loss and maintaining optimal health markers. As always, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing between a low-carb and low-glycemic diet depends on your health goals and lifestyle. If quick weight loss is your primary goal, a low-carb diet might be suitable. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you’re getting the necessary nutrients.

If you’re looking for a diet that helps manage blood sugar levels, promotes heart health, and aids in long-term weight maintenance, a low-glycemic diet might be the better choice. This diet also offers a more varied food selection, making it easier to stick to in the long run.


Both low-carb and low-glycemic diets have their merits and can be effective for weight loss and health improvement. However, it’s essential to remember that a diet should not be a temporary fix but a step towards a healthier lifestyle. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan.


  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/low-carbohydrate-diets/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/low-glycemic-index-diet/art-20048478
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/8-principles-of-low-glycemic-eating
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654909/
  6. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/low-glycemic-diet
  7. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-truth-about-lowglycemic-diets
  8. https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1651
  9. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/low-glycemic-diet
  10. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/low-carbohydrate-diets/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35254136/
  12. https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/tip-low-carb-diets-and-cortisol/
  13. https://chriskresser.com/is-a-low-carb-diet-ruining-your-health/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17536128/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3845365/
  16. https://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/library/articles/inflamation-and-your-heart

Similar Posts