Low Carb Diets Work As Long As You Work Them
For the last 15-20 years, diet gurus everywhere have been fighting a war against carbohydrates (‘carb’). They have stopped their clients from eating pasta, potatoes, cereal, rice, and bread like they were public enemy number one. The physical results have been drastic, with lean bikini bodies the evidence that this plan was the best. High protein, low carb diets deliver in the form of fast weight loss with delicious, high fat, rich foods. It started with the Atkins diet, which threw caution and cholesterol to the wind and prescribed a diet based on meat and cheese, with a side of greasy bacon. Then in the late 1990s came the South Beach diets where the focus was still high protein, low carb diets to maximize fat burning. The Zone was the best yet, and was more focused on feeding and fueling athletes, with lean, healthy proteins, like grilled chicken and salmon at the forefront. The Zone also encouraged fruits and vegetables, and placed a high value on the importance of exercise.
Carbs were put on death row because of these groundbreaking diets, and the resulting celebrity and athlete physiques. Carbs tend to be dense and cutting them out will, by necessity, cut out a large number of calories, and create the deficit needed to lose pounds. Many nutritionists will argue that eliminating one whole group of food from a previously balanced diet will always cut calories and result in weight loss. Whether you get the nutrients from that food group somewhere else and still reach a healthy calorie level is what will decide if your low carb diet is beneficial and worthy of a long term commitment.
The actual science behind the low carb diet is all about sugar and insulin. Carbohydrates break down into sugars. Therefore, they cause the blood sugar levels to go up. High blood sugar prompts the release of insulin. Insulin helps the body process the excess sugar by pushing it into the cells to be burned by the body for energy. When the cells use the sugar-based energy, they keep the stored fat. No carbs equals more stable blood sugar and cells are forced to use stored fat instead.
The problems can be pretty insurmountable. Some are even dangerous. Some people have suffered ketosis, which occurs when someone changes from a balanced diet to one without carbs. The liver uses ketones to utilize the fat from cells because it senses the lack of sugar and tries to preserve what is left. It can lead to lightheadedness and fainting or, eventually, liver failure. A less serious consequence is that some people never feel full and will end up binging on carbs and ruining their progress. If someone is a serious carb lover, a low carb diet is not for them because the losses are only maintained as long as the carbs are gone. As soon as the carbs come back, so will the weight, if other changes aren’t made. This can work, but most people will have trouble in the long term. It’s best to work on reducing fat and calories overall and maintaining a healthy diet and weight.