Years ago if you had a weight problem, you were told to count calories and if you needed to gain weight, increase calories and if you needed to lose weight, decrease calories. Since that didn’t work as well as many thought it should, some doctors and health nutritionists began studying why and it was discovered that calories really don’t matter, but carbs do!
Good healthy fats contain a LOT of calories, but few, sometimes NO carbs. That means if you eat a huge steak- or any meat- including the fat, you will not gain, but if you were to eat that same amount of calories in a starch- bread, rice, potato- you would gain. That means to gain weight, eat more carbs and to lose weight, eat less carbs. Even though many doctors are beginning to share this information with their patients, some don’t and you will still see some in the medical and nutritional community pushing the ‘calories count’ theory.
I recently discovered an interesting article that I will share with you here and make my own comments along the way in blue…
Low-carb diets work.
That is pretty much a scientific fact at this point.
At least 23 high quality studies in humans have shown this to be true. In many cases, a low-carb diet causes 2-3 times more weight loss as the standard low-fat diet that we’re still being told to follow. Low-carb diets also appear to have an outstanding safety profile. No serious side effects have been reported. In fact, the studies show that these diets cause major improvements in many important risk factors….
Fact 1… Carb Restriction Lowers Insulin Levels
Insulin is a very important hormone in the body.
It is the main hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and energy storage. One of the functions of insulin, is to tell fat cells to produce and store fat, and to hold on to the fat that they already carry…
Bottom Line: Blood levels of the hormone insulin go way down when carb intake is reduced. High insulin levels contribute to fat storage, and low insulin levels facilitate fat burning…
Fact 2… Water Weight Drops Rapidly in The Beginning
In the first 1-2 weeks of low carb eating, people tend to lose weight very quickly. The main reason for this, is reduction in water weight. The mechanism behind it is two-fold:
Insulin: When insulin goes down, the kidneys start shedding excess sodium from the body. This also lowers blood pressure.
Glycogen: The body stores carbs in the form of glycogen, which binds water in the muscles and liver. When carb intake goes down, glycogen levels in the body go down, and the water follows along. This does not happen to nearly the same extent on a higher carb diet, even if calories are reduced significantly.
Bottom Line: When people go low-carb, they lose significant amounts of excess water from their bodies. This explains the rapid weight loss seen in the first week or two.
Fact 3… Low Carb Diets Are High in Protein
In most studies where low carb and low fat diets are compared, the low carb groups end up eating much more protein.
This is because people replace many low-protein foods (grains, sugars) with higher protein foods like meat, fish and eggs. Numerous studies show that protein can reduce appetite, boost metabolism, and help increase muscle mass, which is metabolically active and burns calories around the clock. Many nutrition experts believe that the high protein content of low-carb diets is the main reason for their effectiveness.
Jeannie here- This seems to be a good place to recommend you read my EAT HEALTHY! page.
Bottom Line: Low carb diets tend to be much higher in protein than low fat diets. Protein can reduce appetite, boost metabolism and help people hold on to muscle mass despite restricting calories.
Fact 4… Low Carb Diets Have a Metabolic Advantage
Although this is controversial, many experts do believe that low carb diets have a metabolic advantage. In other words, that low carb diets increase your energy expenditure, and that people lose more weight than can be explained by reduced calorie intake alone. There are actually some studies to support this. A study conducted in 2012 found that a very low carb diet increased energy expenditure compared to a low fat diet, during a period of weight maintenance.
Bottom Line: Low-carb diets appear to have a metabolic advantage, but most of it is caused by the increased protein intake. In the beginning of a very low carb, ketogenic diet, some calories are wasted when glucose is produced.
Fact 5… Low Carb Diets Are Less Varied, and Lower in “Food Reward”
Low carb diets automatically exclude some of the world’s most fattening junk foods. (but these can be easily replaced when you stop eating junk and eat chemical-free- sweet and delicious too!)
This includes sugar, sugary drinks, fruit juices, pizzas, white bread, french fries, pastries and most unhealthy snacks. There is also an obvious reduction in variety when you eliminate most high-carb foods, especially given that wheat, corn and sugar are in almost all processed foods. Jeannie here- we’ve discovered great substitutes for all these unhealthy foods and snacks. As more and more companies begin using natural, healthy, chemical-free ingredients, we have a wonderful and tasty variety to choose from! We’ve been eating this way for awhile now and never feel deprived, nor do we crave things we should avoid.
Bottom Line: Low carb diets exclude many foods that are highly rewarding and extremely fattening (only to those still eating chemical-filled foods). These diets also have less food variety, (not anymore) which may lead to reduced calorie intake. (Only if you wish).
Fact 6… Low Carb Diets Significantly Lower Your Appetite, Leading to Automatic Reduction in Calorie Intake
Probably the single biggest explanation for the weight loss effects of low carb diets, is their powerful effects on appetite. It is well established that when people go low carb, their appetite goes down and they start eating fewer calories. In fact, studies that compare low carb and low fat diets usually restrict calories in the low-fat groups, while the low-carb groups are allowed to eat until fullness. Despite that, the low carb groups still usually lose more weight.
Many people who go on a ketogenic diet feel that they only need to eat 1 or 2 meals per day. They simply don’t get hungry more often. There is also some evidence that low carb diets can have beneficial effects on appetite regulating hormones like leptin and ghrelin.
Bottom Line: Low carb diets lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake, so that people eat fewer calories without having to think about it- especially when eating chemical-free. I’ve had three doctors now tell me we should forget calories and just count carbs– I’ve done it and it really does work! If you are trying to lose some weight, keep your carbs at 60 or less per day– more about this on my EAT HEALTHY! page.
Fact 7… The Long Term Effects on Weight Loss Are Not Very Impressive
Even though low carb diets are very effective in the short-term, the long-term results are not that great.
Most studies that last for 1-2 years show that the difference between the low-carb and low-fat groups mostly disappears. There are many possible explanations for this, but the most plausible one is that people tend to abandon the diet over time, and start gaining the weight back.
This is not specific to low carb diets, and is a well known problem in most long-term weight loss studies. Most “diets” are incredibly hard to stick to. YES- Which is exactly why we tell our readers NOT TO DIET! Instead, choose a nice healthy, yummy chemical-free way to eat and do that- your days of yo-yo dieting will be over and you will be healthy, slim and trim for life. Since including healthy fats and proteins in your diet will greatly reduce hunger, many of you will no doubt do best to include a bulletproof coffee with a whey protein powder added to it in the morning, then follow our EAT HEALTHY! page.
Take Home Message
Some people refuse to accept that low carb diets can work, and that people can eat as much as they want, because that must violate the calories in, calories out model.
However, when you understand the mechanisms behind low carb diets, you can see that the CICO model is not being violated, and the laws of thermodynamics still hold.
The truth is, low carb diets work on both sides of the calorie equation.
They boost your metabolism (increasing calories out) and lower your appetite (reducing calories in), leading to automatic calorie restriction.
Calories still count, uh, no, actually they don’t according to three of my doctors and I have proven it true in my own body, it’s just that low carb diets automate the process and help prevent the biggest side effect of conscious calorie restriction, which is hunger. I have also proven with my own body that having a bulletproof coffee with protein powder kills my hunger for hours. So, folks- EAT HEALTHY! Your body will thank you and your friends will ask for your secret! Do tell!
TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH!
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