Is low carb ever a good idea?
Carbs certainly aren’t the enemy, but we need to often be a bit clever with when and how we use them.
Important point before I start- CALORIES IN VERSUS CALORIES OUT will always dictate weight gain and loss- if you have 2000 calories of protein or 2000 calories of carbohydrate or 2000 calories of fat- YOUR WEIGHT WILL NOT VARY .
Where very low carbohydrate diets like Atkins work, at least initially, is that they are high in fat and protein; its actually quite easy to become full , and stay full on these diets. Where high carb diets do cause problems is that many sources are very easy to overconsume- I often use the analogy of how much easier and quicker it is to eat a bag of crisps, than a chicken breast.
Fats are also more satisfying in terms of satiety, and generally have more flavour, so an individual is satisfied quicker when eating a meal high in fats than one that is instead high in carbohydrates.
Why do people struggle when carbs are very low ?
Its largely down to
Adherence- people like carbs! The minute you tell someone they cant have it- they want it more! Also as anyone can tell you who has gone super low carb, you can get some particularly spectacular mood swings! Both of these things are going to make it difficult to stay on one of these diets.
Convenience- it is very hard to plan your days and also have a social life when carbs aren’t on your agenda!
Why you shouldnt cut carbs out completely:
1. They are high in fibre –sources like potatoes, breads, brown rice and beans and even vegetables will all be restricted when you go very low carb , but these are your main sources of fibre, and consuming optimal amounts if important for gut health, and also helps you feel full- essential if you are dieting!
2. They are important for sleep (1) and hormonal health (2)
3. Many are also excellent sources of Vitamins and Minerals- for example B Vitamins, which have a multitude of benefits- from your metabolism to cell repair to immunity (3) are found in carbs such as potatoes, whole grains, bananas and beans.
4. A lot of workouts rely on carbs as a fuel source (more on this below)
Where low carb may work
Note I say low carb , not super low carb or no carb!
If you partake in low impact exercise ( e.g. yoga , walking, low intensity runs) its likely you would operate well on a fairly low carbohydrate diet as your ‘fuel’ needs will be different to a person exercising more intensely- simply put you just don’t really need large amounts. But bearing in mind what I have mentioned above re adherence and general health, it is important not to cut them out completely.
Its useful to note that some people feel better on a higher carb lower fat diet, some on a lower carb higher fat diet- just because your mate is happy having next to no pasta and loves avocados, doesn’t mean this will work for you.
It is always best to try these things out, get some good advice and find your own perfect diet , that will allow you to get the body you want. If you need help with this, I offer free , no-obligation transformation sessions, so please hit the ‘Transform today’ button at the top of the page, and visit my services page to find out more about me and how I can help you!
1. St-Onge et al (2016) Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Advances in Nutrition, 7(5) 938-949 doi:10.3945/an.116.012336.
2. Mathieson et al (1986) The effect of varying carbohydrate content on a very-low –caloric diet on resting metabolic rate and thyroid hormones. Metabolism. 35(5):938-949.
3. Kennedy DO. (2016) B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy- A Review. Nutrients, 8 (2) 68. DOI: 10.3390/nu8020068
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