The hype about a low carbohydrate diet as an effective weight loss plan, in the view of critics, has been overblown. At best it fails to reduce body fat as fast as promised, at worse it could be harmful to your health.
The human body holds 2 to 4 grams of water per 1 gram of carbohydrate consumed. Cutting back on the consumption of carbohydrates will reduce the water content of your body and result in some weight loss, but very little or no loss in body fat, which is the actual cause of overweight.
The weight loss from a low carbohydrate diet is as deceptive as it is dangerous if not supervised by a doctor or a dietitian. The body stores carbohydrates as glycogen to fuel the muscles. Under a low carbohydrate regimen, as the body loses water, it also depletes glycogen in the muscles making you to feel sluggish when trying to be active or do physical exercise.
Relying on a low carbohydrate diet for weight loss involves reducing your carbohydrates intake long enough for the stored glycogen in your muscles to be depleted. Only then will the body begin converting body fat to units of energy called ketones. You will note that the most efficient type of energy used by the body is glucose converted to glycogen. Ketones are energy type not preferred by the body, and will certainly affect the body’s performance.
It will then seem the safest way to reduce body fat is not to convert fat to energy but to reduce the amount of calorie consumption. This underscores the need to be watchful of all the foods and beverages you consume, instead of just carbohydrates. When your body has less calories to convert to body fat, there will be less fat in your body and a reduction in your weight.
Additionally, since the brain uses carbohydrates converted to glucose for energy, with a sharp reduction in carbohydrates consumption the brain will not function optimally. You will suffer from repeated lightheadedness, unable to fully concentrate on, or retain information. You will feel that something is missing, and to be sure, it is glycogen.
You may have read or heard, that carbohydrate is stored as fat in the body, but so do all other foods. Foods and beverages have calories, and calories that are not converted to glycogen and used up through activity are stored as fat. Hence, a low carbohydrate diet will not end the storing of fat in your body if you eat other foods with high calories.
All carbohydrates are broken down into sugar or glucose, which is the body’s most efficient source of energy. Research has shown that carbohydrates are rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients not readily found in other foods. Carbohydrates are of two kinds, generally referred to as good and bad carbohydrates, and each affects the body differently.
Good carbohydrates are foods in their natural state, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grain bread, cereals, and the like. They are high in fiber, give the body energy over long periods of time, lower cholesterol levels, and aid in the removal of toxins from the body. They also have a low glycemic index that prevents a spike in blood sugar.
Bad carbohydrates are foods that have been refined and processed by man or machines such as candy, baked foods with refined white flour, white pasta, and sodas. They are loaded with coloring, flavoring, preservatives, and have a high glycemic index. High consumption of bad carbohydrates lead to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.
What this information means to you is carbohydrates are fine when eaten in small to moderate quantities. Vary the amount and type of carbohydrates you eat depending on your daily activities. For instance, after a vigorous workout, you may eat that bowl of spaghetti and meatball or pizza you’ve been wanting or even some ice cream. On days that you don’t workout, eating carbohydrates with a low glycemic index will be fine.
Getting on a low carbohydrate diet without reducing your calorie intake from other foods and beverages will only reduce the water content of your body, leaving largely untouched your body fat, which is the main culprit of overweight. To be on the safe side, be sure to consult your doctor before getting on a low carbohydrate diet.