Whether you’re in the supermarket, a restaurant, online, or just watching the commercials on TV you are bombarded with ads and special menus singing the praises of the virtues of the low carb diets and Ketosis diet.
This low carb foods craze has virtually swept the nation and has dieters everywhere seeking out low carb this and low carb that with many reporting weight loss as a result!!!
This is great news right? Finally, an easy diet plan that makes you lose weight and you can eat lots of food as long as they have almost no carbs in them!!!
But, have we really struck gold, or have we simply struck fools gold?
Is the idea of eating a low carb diet for weight loss really a good idea or are there any side effects that may come with these diets that adversely affect our health?
All too often carbs are demonised when they don’t need to be, especially when it comes to weight loss. Because cutting carbs…well it leads to pretty instant “results” on the scale.
It’s what we call “fake weight loss” because you haven’t actually lost any fat, yet the scale number will go down pretty quickly.
So if this weight loss isn’t “real,” what are we losing instantly with a low carb diet?
When you change to a low carb diet, two things happen:
You deplete your glycogen stores, which results in weight loss.
You lose water weight.
Neither one of these things is necessarily bad, BUT they are why the scales can fluctuate so much and you may find the second you “cheat,” or have a higher carb meal, all of the weight comes right back.
Because for every gram of glycogen your body stores (which glycogen storage isn’t necessarily a bad thing!), comes with it about 3-4 grams of water.
Basically you can go on a low carb diet and deplete your glycogen stores to lose 6.6lbs or about 3kg pretty instantly.
So going lower carb can be a way to see very fast, albeit not necessarily “true,” results.
But exactly how many carbs you need to consume will be impacted by any health issues you may have, your goals and even your training and overall activity level.
Carbs are NOT evil and actually eating too few, while it may have initially helped, may be hindering you from making further progress.
Many people want something for nothing and this way of thinking also applies to those looking to lose weight but unfortunately there is no miracle substitute to good sound nutritional practices.
Our society is one that values “quick fixes” which is why the low carb diet plan is a perfect for this society’s way of thinking. This is what makes it so appealing.
When choosing a low carb diet, the body will rely on free fatty acids for fuel when muscle glycogen is depleted, but the body will rely much more on amino acids (protein) from the breakdown of lean (muscle) tissue as well, so, while you may burn fat, you will also burn more muscle as well and remember, your heart is also a muscle!
In addition to this, those on a carb-restricted diet have lower energy levels and shorter time to fatigue during physical activity which means any activity will likely be in shorter durations.
Simply put you need carbohydrates for your brain, heart, and muscles as well as other vital organs.
The main fuel of the brain and central nervous system is glucose, which is obtained most easily from carbohydrates. If carbohydrates remain unavailable for several days the body tries to conserve protein by producing an alternate fuel source known as ketones from the partial burning of fatty acids. As this breakdown continues, these ketones build in the blood causing a condition known as ketosis.
As mentioned above, initial weight loss is not from fat but from water from the kidneys trying to rid the body of excess ketones. Low carb diets make the blood more acidic, causing potentially serious and unwanted side effects like headaches, bad breath, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. Also, when carbohydrate stores are depleted in the body, the rate at which fat is metabolised is reduced. Therefore carbohydrates are necessary for the ability to metabolise fat effectively.
Carbohydrates do not make you fat, calories in general make you fat, so the most effective weight loss plan is simply to adjust your calorie intake to be in the right range for your own individual needs with the proper balance of nutrients.
Just because you seem to notice a loss of overall body weight in the initial stages of a low carb diet doesn’t mean it is a good solid safe means of going about embarking on a weight loss venture. There is no substitute, and there will never be a good substitute to a good sound nutritional plan coupled with a moderate exercise plan and making this a lifetime venture.
For more information about our healthy eating, weight loss courses and dietary analysis, pop over to our website www.thenutrientgap.com