A common albeit inaccurate saying in nutrition is that a calorie is a calorie. Put another way, many believe that restricting calories is all that matters.
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But a growing number of studies clearly show differences between reducing fat versus carbohydrate. In respect to body composition, convincing evidence of the importance of macronutrient composition was presented in a comprehensive meta-regression of 87 diet trials. The authors concluded that diets lower in carbohydrate were associated with greater fat loss and diets higher in protein resulted in better preservation of lean body mass during weight loss. Furthermore, these effects were independent of energy intake and participation in exercise. A number of other studies have also shown improvements in lipid profiles, glucose levels, and inflammatory markers with low carbohydrate diets. The most recent study was published by Volek and colleagues. They had 40 overweight men and women consume either a low fat diet or a very low carbohydrate diet for 3 months. A broad spectrum of health markers were examined in addition to weight loss and body composition. The low fat diet led to some weight loss and improvement in metabolic indicators, but the low carbohydrate diet did better on almost all counts. Weight loss and fat loss were two-fold greater, and the improvements in blood levels of triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, glucose, insulin, insulin sensitivity, and several other emerging risk factors were significantly greater in response to the low carbohydrate diet. This study provides strong evidence showing how potent restricting carbohydrates can be for promoting weight and fat loss and multitude of risk factors in overweight subjects.

Volek JS, Phinney SD, Forsythe CE, Quann EE, Wood RJ, Puglisi MJ, Kraemer WJ, Bibus DM, Fernandez ML, Feinman RD. Carbohydrate Restriction has a More Favorable Impact on the Metabolic Syndrome than a Low Fat Diet. Low carbohydrate more effective than a low fat diet Lipids. 2009 Apr;44(4):297-309. Epub 2008 Dec 12.