Whether you’re in a grocery store, a restaurant or just watching the commercials on TV during your favorite show, you are bombarded with ads and special menus singing the praises of the virtues of the low carb diet. This low carb craze has virtually swept the western world 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?
Consider this, 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 for good sound nutritional practices. Our society is one that values “quick fixes” which is why the low carb diet plan is a perfect fit for this society’s way of thinking. This is what makes it so appealing.
It is true that a large amount of weight will be lost as glycogen (stored carbohydrate) depletes in the muscles and liver, but this weight is from water, not a fat loss which is not good for body composition or overall health. It is also true that 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.
The fact is 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. 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 metabolized is reduced meaning that carbohydrates are necessary for the ability to metabolize fat effectively. And keep this in mind, 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.
The fact is, 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 that plan a lifetime venture.