I don’t diet.  I try to eat “healthy” but these days even I’m not sure what I mean by that.  If one does not subscribe to a low-carb lifestyle, is it considered “healthier” to eat a steak instead of a bowl of pasta?  I guess what I’m asking is, does eating fewer carbs only “work” if you ALWAYS eat fewer carbs? Although I like to eat healthy, when I get a starchy-carby-salty craving to go along with my salad, is it “healthier” to eat fries or chips?!
- Jamie

In studies conducted by the Duke University Medical Center and Philadelphia VA Medical Center, a group of people were assigned low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets. After six months, the low-carbers lost more weight, but at the end of the year, the low-fat dieters lost the same amount of weight as the low-carb dieters. For those who want to shed a few pounds fairly quickly, the low-carb diets seem to work. There really haven’t been enough studies done yet to know more about the long-term effects of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat dieting.

Ask Gothamist believes that no one diet is perfect for everyone. It depends on your personal body chemistry and food preferences. We know people who are vegan, people who are allergic to wheat and dairy, and people who only eat pasta and red meat every night - and they’re all pretty slim! So if you do want to maintain or lose weight, the formula boils down to less calories + more exercise. We’ll leave it up to you if to determine exactly what to eat (or not) for your body - or maybe you’ll want to consult with a nutritionist.

2004_07_ask_fries2.jpgAs for fries vs. chips, it depends on the brand and serving size, of course. But just for fun, let’s compare equal sizes of some fries and chips: A 2.6 oz. serving of McDonald’s fries (a size small) contains 220 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 150 mg of sodium. If you consumed the same amount (2.6 oz) of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips, you’d be getting 390 calories and 7.8 grams of saturated fat, not to mention 468 mg of sodium. Of course, you could choose a reduced-fat or baked potato chip which would have less fat and reduced calories, which is probably the healthiest option.

Related: Ask Gothamist on why processed foods are bad for you.