What is a low carbohydrate diet and will it work when it comes to weight loss? Well, if you ask 10 people, you will more than likely get 10 different answers. That’s because a lot of people have their own version or their own understanding of what a low carbohydrate diet consists of.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy and they consist of complex and simple carbohydrates that provide 4 calories for every gram. They are primarily plant based and consists of fruits and vegetables, along with different types of grains.
Without getting too technical, simple carbohydrates contain a shorter chain and tend to digest much faster by the body and can therefore be used for energy at a much faster rate than complex carbohydrates which contain a longer chain.
Another form of simple carbohydrate is sucrose, and these foods tend to have little to no nutritional value. Things like table sugar, cakes, candy, desserts, and countless other sugary foods are just a few examples.
These are the types of carbohydrates that give the good carbohydrates a bad name because when eaten in excess can cause tremendous weight gain, not to mention other health problems like diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease, to name a few.
Fructose is yet another form of simple carbohydrate and it’s considered a monosaccharide. This means it can’t be broken down any further making it quickly and easily absorbed by the body.
All forms of fruit contain fructose. Fruits like oranges, bananas, mangos, etc. are good examples of simple carbohydrate foods that contain fructose. However, in their natural state, they digest more slowly because of the fiber they contain when compared to fruit juices.
Also, fruits are high in nutrition and they are very useful by the body to not only fuel cells, but to provide the body with adequate vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and other antioxidants.
Fructose or high fructose corn syrup added to most soft drinks, juices, and other foods that are boxed or packaged are not good for weight loss and your health. This type of fructose is metabolized by the liver without the need of insulin, which means if liver glycogen stores are full, any excess fructose will go straight to your mid-section!
If you exercise and deplete your liver glycogen stores, then your body can use fructose to replenish the lost energy stores in the liver. However, it doesn’t take much, so don’t overdo it as the liver can only hold approximately 100 grams of glycogen which is equivalent to 400 calories.
Some people who exercise hard for long durations while following a low carbohydrate diet tend to feel light headed, nauseous, or have that, “hit the wall feeling”. This is normally due to depleted glycogen stores in the liver. When this occurs, the body will release stress hormones called cortisol and adrenaline in an effort to boost blood sugar levels.
These stress hormones will stop fat loss in its tracks, and you will notice not only by the lack of energy, but by your waistline increasing in size if allowed to occur week after week.
The key to stopping an increase in these stress hormones is to sip on 2-4 ounces of an all-natural orange juice after exercise and in between meals until the feeling subsides. Choose an orange juice with no added sugars, and one that is not from concentrate packaged in a carton rather than a plastic container. Doing this will avoid the BPA which is a substance that causes many health problems including a rise in estrogens which I talk about more in depth in another article.
Lactose is another form of simple sugar and it primarily comes from milk, yogurt, and other dairy products including most whey proteins.
People who have a lactose intolerance should avoid dairy to avoid digestive problems or allergic reactions. As a matter of fact, dairy products can be highly inflammatory and mucus forming, so use little in your diet or avoid them completely if one of your goals is to improve your health!
Yes, many people will disagree, but I’ve learned from experience that dairy is not your friend, so to speak!
Will you lose weight on a low carbohydrate diet?
Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics on carbohydrates, will cutting out or lowering them help your weight loss progress?
Most likely yes! Why? Because you will most likely be cutting out the simple carbohydrates in the form of table sugar, cakes, candy, ice cream, sodas, chips, and so on. Doing this will definitely yield positive results in weight loss and improving your overall health!
However, if you tend to cut out the good carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, then you just might be going down the wrong road since most of the good carbohydrates consist of a vast number of nutrients your body needs, including the fiber to help keep things moving along in your digestive tract.
How about grains?
You may want to cut back or eliminate them completely as they can cause severe inflammation. As a matter of fact, rye, barley, and oats can even cause celiac disease in some people. Cracked or whole grains may be okay, but try to avoid any foods that are made with flour of any kind.