I recently replaced my previous crankset with the White Industries VBC crankset. I lowered by drivetrain gearing by reducing my double chainring combination from 46/30 to 44/28. Ironically, I think lowering my gearing made me faster.
My theory is that the small reduction in gear ratios for my rear cassette put my “engine” in a more efficient operating zone. I don’t think the reduction was enough for me to change the rear cogs I normally use. Instead, for any given rear cog, I “spin” faster instead of “mash” slower. This theory has not been tested scientifically, and it won’t be.
For the last ten years or so, going faster has not been the objective. But the feeling of efficient mobility is delightful. So the way the new gearing feels is the key. Who knows, I might be slower. But, for me, feeling faster is better than being faster.