Low Carb vs Weight Watchers Diet: Which Reigns Supreme?

When it comes to weight loss and overall health, diet plays a crucial role. Two popular diets that have garnered attention over the years are the Low Carb diet, often associated with the ketogenic diet, and the Weight Watchers program. This article aims to provide an in-depth comparison of these two diets, highlighting their pros, cons, and effectiveness based on scientific research.

Understanding the Diets

Weight Watchers

Founded in 1963 by Jean Nidetech, Weight Watchers is a global weight loss program that has helped millions of people shed pounds 1. The program doesn’t restrict any foods, instead, it uses a points system, assigning different values to foods based on their calorie, fat, protein, and sugar content 2. The goal is to stay below a set amount of daily points to achieve your weight loss target. However, the focus is primarily on weight loss, not necessarily on overall health and nutrition 3.

Low Carb Diet

The Low Carb or ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb, and moderate-protein diet that doesn’t require you to restrict calories or sign up for a program 4. The goal is to put your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat instead of glucose for fuel 5. This diet emphasizes health and nutrition, and it’s been associated with benefits such as increased energy, reduced carb cravings, improved brain health, and potential risk reduction for certain cancers 6.

Comparing the Diets: A Deep Dive into the Research

When it comes to choosing a diet, understanding the scientific evidence behind each option is crucial. Numerous studies have been conducted to compare the effectiveness of the Low Carb diet and the Weight Watchers program. This section will delve into the findings of these studies, focusing on weight loss results and impacts on health markers.

Weight Loss Results: Short-term vs Long-term

One notable study compared the Weight Watchers diet app to a ketogenic app called Keyto. The participants were randomly assigned to either the Weight Watchers group or the Keyto group, and their progress was tracked over a period of 24 weeks 7.

12-Week Results

After 12 weeks, the results were already showing a significant difference between the two groups. The keto group had lost an average of 12 pounds, more than double the average weight loss of 5.5 pounds in the Weight Watchers group 7.

24-Week Results

The difference became even more pronounced after 24 weeks. The keto group continued to lose weight, with a total average weight loss of 18.5 pounds. In contrast, the Weight Watchers group only lost an additional 0.5 pounds, bringing their total average weight loss to 6 pounds. These results suggest that while Weight Watchers may be effective for short-term weight loss, the Low Carb diet may be a more sustainable option for long-term weight loss 7.

Related: What Happens in the First Two Weeks of a Low-Carb Diet?

Impact on Health Markers

The study also examined the impact of the two diets on various health markers, including A1C levels, a marker for diabetes, and alkaline phosphatase, a marker for kidney or liver conditions 7.

A1C Levels

After 12 weeks, the keto participants had lowered their A1C level by 0.2%, a reduction that outperforms most prescription drugs. In contrast, the Weight Watchers group decreased their A1C levels by 0.1%, half as much as the keto group. This suggests that the Low Carb diet may be more effective in managing blood sugar levels and potentially reducing the risk of diabetes 7,8,9.

Alkaline Phosphatase Levels

The study also found differences in the impact of the two diets on alkaline phosphatase levels. The keto group lowered their alkaline phosphatase by seven points, indicating improved liver and kidney health. On the other hand, the Weight Watchers group’s levels actually increased by one point, suggesting potential concerns for those with pre-existing liver or kidney conditions 7,10.

In conclusion, the research indicates that while both diets can lead to weight loss, the Low Carb diet may offer more significant long-term weight loss and health benefits. However, individual results may vary, and it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan.

The Pros and Cons

Weight Watchers

While Weight Watchers allows flexibility in food choices and promotes gradual weight loss, it has some drawbacks. It emphasizes calorie restriction over nutritional value, potentially leading to unhealthy eating habits and nutritional deficiencies. The diet can also increase insulin resistance due to the high intake of fruits and other carb-rich foods, leading to weight gain. Furthermore, the constant need to count points and restrict calories can lead to hunger and fatigue.

Low Carb Diet

The Low Carb diet focuses on improving health and reducing appetite. It’s been shown to manage chronic diseases like diabetes and reduce chronic inflammation. The diet emphasizes nutrient-dense, healthy foods, leading to higher food quality compared to Weight Watchers. However, it may initially cause “keto flu,” a state of feeling lethargic as your body adjusts to using ketones as a primary source of fuel.

Conclusion

While both Weight Watchers and Low Carb diets can aid in weight loss, they have fundamental differences. Weight Watchers focuses on calorie restriction and weight loss, while the Low Carb diet emphasizes a healthy lifestyle with nutrient-dense foods. The choice between the two should be based on individual health goals, dietary preferences, and lifestyle. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan.


Footnotes

  1. https://www.weightwatchers.com/nz/wellbeing/evolution-of-ww
  2. https://www.verywellfit.com/weight-watchers-overview-4691074
  3. https://www.dwlz.com/WWinfo/historyofww.html
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-low-carb-ketogenic-diets
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537084/
  7. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.23242
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36287562/
  9. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/weight-watchers-for-diabetics#effectiveness-for-diabetes
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3571895/

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