Is Low Carb Really the Way to Go?
If there was a hot fashion trend for people doing weight loss programs, then low-carb diets such as the Atkins diet would be the "in" thing right now. Sad to say, though, that with the numerous claims of low-carb diet approach and the several information circulating around the media about losing weight and the diet itself, the average person is given a very hard time to figure out which one actually works, and how to make it work.
This article is in no way intended to add more confusion; rather, this will help you get a better picture of just how the low-carb diet works and some other marvelous facts about the human body. Before we move any further, have you ever wondered why the low-carb diet is so popular?
If you ask gym buffs and "health experts" out there, they will probably give several reasons why this diet is becoming popular. But a common reason you will hear from them is simply a change of heart - they've realized that after all these years of eating a low-fat and high carb diet, no actual weight loss is happening. It just adds more inches in their waistlines and become catalysts for diseases and complications.
Although the low-fat high carb diet does cut down the level of body fat among those who practice this, it is sad to see that some individuals are going too extreme on their diet - sometimes eating too much carbs and sometimes avoiding them all the same like some disease. Anything extreme, is of course, dangerous.
Low-carb diets do work, however, it comes at a price. Trimming down the carbs will help you lose weight, but it doesn't help much with the body fat at all. The question is: why do people taking the low-carb diet lose weight so fast if the body fat isn't reduced at all? The answer - water. Our body can hold around 2.5 grams of water for every gram of carbohydrate we eat. It's simple math - cut down the carbs, and you cut down water. This is what makes the low-carb approach so popular.
Here's the catch, though. As the low-carb diet reduces the amount of water our body holds, it cuts down the levels of muscle glycogen which causes us to feel low or lazy. Muscle glycogen is actually carbohydrates stored in the muscle that acts as the fuels and food of our muscles.
Carbohydrates are not just food for the muscles, they're brain food as well. If carbohydrate intake is reduced, then brain activity will not be at its optimum performance as well. Deprivation of carbs, whether cutting it down or ultimately reducing it, will surely give you physical and mental imbalances.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, so they say. Hence, anything beyond normal is bad, especially in our bodies. Any extra food we consume is stored as fat - vegetables, meat, fries, anything. Even carbohydrates are stored as fat. As of this date, there is no known research on body fat of people who followed the low-carb diet to see if any actual body fat was lost.
There is one study though that tackles on the importance of carbs and the essential nutrients that are found only in carbs. The research study showed that among sedentary individuals, small amounts of carbohydrates consumed inhibited fat burning and only around 4% of the carbs were stored as fat. Carbohydrate consumption did not inhibit fat burning and nothing was stored for individuals who are under light to moderate exercise regimens. In addition, there has been no known effect on fat burning for large carb meals and all the carbs went to the muscles for glycogen replenishment and tissue repairs.
This research simply means that carbohydrates are ultimately fine - of course, if taken light to moderately. This goes well for people who don't exercise, and for those who do, the carbs are not stored as fat, but are used as muscle food.
Now, you have a green light with that big bowl of pasta or that thick slice of bread you've been staying away from since you thought carbs are bad for you.
Armed with the knowledge that carbohydrates are not really bad for you, it's time to re-immerse carbohydrates back in your fitness and diet program. Just remember these simple tips:
- Carbohydrates are necessary - be wise in choosing the right amount and the right type to eat. High fiber carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole grains and fruits are the way to go.
- Your lifestyle will dictate the amount of carbs you eat. Persons with an active lifestyle can get to eat more carbs, and those who don't, well, should eat less.
You can eat all the carbs you like - after exercise, that is. Pig out; cheat on your diet after a hard workout. Do remember, though, that always eat a balanced diet - carbs, proteins and fat.