With all the different diets on the market today it's no wonder most people are confused at what works. Low carbohydrate diets are gaining popularity as they produce fast results in overall weight loss. However, are low carbohydrate diets really effective at keeping the weight off in the long run?
The Basics of a Low Carbohydrate Diet
Each gram of glycogen in the muscles holds 3 grams of water. If and when you deplete glycogen, you lose water. Muscles consist of approx. 70% water while fat consist of approx. 15% water. What I am saying is that when you deplete your carbohydrate intake by going on a low carb diet, most of the weight loss comes from water the first 1-2 weeks. That simple!
What happens after 2 weeks or so depends on how and what you eat. Low carbohydrate diets can be effective if they are carefully tailored. If you simply cut out all the carbs in your diet you could be setting yourself up for trouble in the long run when it comes to your physical health.
The first problem that occurs with a low carbohydrate diet is a condition known as ketosis. When this occurs it forces your body to take from dietary protein and fat to supply glucose for energy which in a sense is not an easy task for the body to perform. Glycogen from carbohydrates on the other hand is easily converted to glucose. When you deplete glycogen stores in the muscles your body turns elsewhere for fuel. A low carbohydrate diet will force your body to burn either protein or fat as it's next source of energy. If the low carbohydrate diet is not followed properly then muscle tissue can be lost. When this occurs your basal metabolic rate will decrease and your body will begin to shut itself down to compensate for the lost tissue. In other words your body will burn less calories which will result in less energy and a lower metabolism and once this occurs losing weight will be very difficult.
Most low carbohydrate diets will start out with good weight loss and then the weight loss will taper off over a 3-6 week period depending on how much fat is on the individual. Carefully tailored low carbohydrate diets can be beneficial IF the individual has a considerable amount of body fat in relation to their total body weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and 40% of your weight consist of body fat, then a carefully tailored low carbohydrate diet can be very beneficial if done short term. If you weigh 140 pounds and 15% of your weight consist of body fat, then a low carbohydrate diet may not work as well.
Most people who follow a low carb diet will eat an enormous amount of protein and/or fat. This in the long run can really hurt you if you are not seeking professional guidance under such a plan. Increased protein in conjunction with a low carbohydrate diet can definitely overwork the kidneys and if you have kidney disease it can be devastating to your health. What it all comes down to is most low carbohydrate diets can help you or hurt you depending on your current physical condition and how the diet is tailored for your specific needs and goals. If you have any medical ailments, it's imperative to seek out professional guidance so you lessen the risk of hurting your body.