Unfortunately, the conventional high-carb diets are not the only dieting demons that the weight-loss industry has thrown at us. The low-carbohydrate diet has been popular over the years for the quick fix and the rapid initial weight loss that occurs. Most people do lose weight quickly at first, however, it is the wrong kind of weight. While on a low-carb diet, the initial weight-loss is coming from water because your body is dehydrated. Carbohydrates do make you hold more water, but we don’t really care about weight-loss coming from water. Water weight will go up and down on a daily basis anyway.
Being on a program like this induces an abnormal metabolic state in the body called ketosis. This occurs when you have insufficient glucose stored in the liver. When this happens the body will break down and the brain for energy. Once that stored carbohydrate is used up, most people think that the body turns to the fat to supply energy. Fat is a poor source of energy. The process of converting fat into energy gets short-circuited on a low-carbohydrate diet. As a result, your cells manufacture abnormal biochemicals called ketone bodies. The body has no use for these ketone bodies so it tries like crazy to get rid of them through increased urination. This is what causes the initial weight loss. A weight-loss pill or an herbal diuretic or weight-loss tea will do exactly the same thing.
To understand why the low-carb diet became popular we have to look back to the high-carb diet. A diet high in carbohydrates will generate a rapid rise in blood sugar. To adjust for this rapid rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin transports glucose (carbohydrates) into the cell where it is converted to energy – ATP. Excess glucose is stored in the liver for future use, and once the liver is full the excess glucose is stored as fat. Something similar also occurs when the body takes in too much protein. Your insulin levels will also start to increase because your body doesn’t want a lot of excess amino acids (building blocks that make up protein) floating around in the bloodstream. The increased insulin levels will then help convert the protein into fat. It’s also been discovered recently that a diet high in ketone bodies may cause changes in the fat cells, making them ten times more active in storing fat than they were before. So when you go off the diet, you continue to gain fat at a frightening rate. Besides all of this, the brain needs carbohydrates to function. The body can convert the protein from muscle into energy but the brain can’t. So, if the brain is not getting the fuel it needs to function properly, you walk around like a zombie all day. You feel tired and lethargic, irritable and grumpy, and you don’t feel good.
What did we first talk about at the beginning about a program that doesn’t make you feel good? You probably won’t stick to it very long. Besides this, your body is going to breakdown muscle for fuel. Also remember that because of those increased insulin levels, you’re not losing fat at anywhere near the rate you expected so you will eventually reach a weight-loss plateau.
What is the answer? Weight loss is more a matter of calories in vs calories out and a balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates based on a person’s body, fitness level, and goals will lead to better and more long-term results.
Have you tried both diets? What has your experience been? I would love to hear your comments.
Your thoughts are appreciated.
Be Healthy for a Lifetime!
Linda DeFever, CPT