Avoid These 2 Diet Danger Zones for Increased Low-Carb Satiety

Do you enjoy a low-carb diet but are confused about how to dial in your macros to increase satiety and crush your cravings? 

Maybe you love low carb but have stalled out and are not sure where to turn next to lose weight with less hunger or manage your #insulin resistance and or diabetes. 

Worry not!  We’ve got you covered!  

Our analysis shows the satiety response to protein, fat and carbs for 306,654 days of data where people are getting the majority of their non-protein energy from fat. 

For those who don’t speak engineer, let’s break down what it means and how you can apply it to optimise your food choices.  

The Low Satiety Danger Zone 1:  The Fat + Carb Combo

The chart highlights two main danger zones that align with overeating.

The first low satiety danger zone is in the centre of the chart, where the bliss point for carbs and fat coincides at around 43% when protein is also low.

The snip from our interactive food search tool shows foods like burgers, pizza, and Doritos fit into this window.   We often think of these foods as ‘bad carbs’, but they’re a similar blend of fat and carbs with low protein.

The Low Satiety Danger Zone 2:  High Fat + Low Protein

The second danger zone occurs at the top of the chart with low protein (around 12.5%) and very high fat (more than 70%), which aligns with consuming much more energy.   Foods like peanut butter, high-fat sausage and nuts (shown below) fit into this low-satiety window.

How Much Does Reducing Carbs Increase Satiety?

Reducing carbohydrates to about 20% aligns with a modest increase in satiety.  However, going zero carb doesn’t help improve satiety, especially if we end up in the high-fat, low-protein scenario noted above.

In our Macros Masterclass, after ensuring they’re getting enough protein, we guide Optimisers to reduce carbs enough to stabilise their blood glucose (i.e., a rise of less than 30 mg/dL or 1.6 mmol/L after eating). 

With protein and carbs dialled in, we use ‘fat as a lever’ in the Macros Masterclass to achieve a weight loss of between 0.5 and 1.0% per week

How Much Fat Do You Need on a Low-Carb Diet? 

Toward the left of the low-carb satiety chart, we see it’s hard to overeat very low-fat, low-carb (i.e. very high-protein) foods.  But this doesn’t mean you must go “low fat”.  If your carbs are low, you need energy from somewhere.  

Notice the dip in the blue fat vs satiety line around 61% fat.  This is the sweet spot for low-carb maintenance that avoids the fat+carb bliss point foods while still getting plenty of protein without overdoing the fat. 

This snip from our food search tool shows the low-carb staples like steak, bacon and lower-fat cheese that fit into this healthy low-carb maintenance window.  These foods are great if you’re happy with your weight and body composition and enjoy a lower-carb diet. 

Protein – The Biggest Satiety Lever

Finally, you’ve probably noticed the big red line cutting the whole chart. 

Many believe the magic of low carb is the lower carb, the higher fat, or something else related to insulin.  The reality is that protein is the dominant satiety factor in a low-carb diet. 

If you increase the percentage of energy from protein beyond 30%, how you balance the carbs vs. fat equation doesn’t matter too much. People who reduce their carbs typically significantly increase their protein percentage. 

As you can see from the snip below from our foods search tool, foods like chicken breast, sirloin steak, non-fat Greek yogurt and most seafood, which provide more than 50% protein, are extremely hard to overeat.  They provide a ton of satiety per calorie

So, to increase your satiety, lose fat, stabilise your blood glucose, and reduce your insulin, start by prioritising protein-rich foods

Don’t be surprised if you lose your appetite for the other comfort foods that you previously felt “addicted to” that were undoing all your hard work and discipline. 

Summary: Low Carb Satiety

  • Avoid food that provides a similar blend of fat and carbs (43% carbs + 43% fat) with low protein. 
  • The high fat, low protein combination may provide even lower satiety than the fat+carb bliss point foods. 
  • Reducing carbs from 43 to 20% increases satiety a little.  We see a sweet spot at around 60% fat, which allows for balanced low-carb maintenance.  
  • However, protein is the biggest satiety lever, especially on a low-carb diet. 
  • When you increase your percentage of energy from protein, how you balance the carb vs fat equation doesn’t matter too much.  

Postscript

The satiety charts above are created using a subset of the data for which people get more non-protein energy from fat vs carbohydrates.  After I published it on X, @patrickestarian commented that this is not what most people consider “low carb”. 

So, I re-ran the analysis with the 103,243 days of data with less than 26% carbohydrates.  The resulting chart below shows that the satiety equation is even simpler for those already on a lower-carb diet: swapping your fat for protein aligns with eating less!

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