Is Low-Carb Really The Way To Go?
Author: Jesse Cannone CFT, CPRS, CSPN
The latest trend in the area of weight loss is low-carb diets such
as the Atkins Diet. With so much conflicting information out there
on nutrition and weight loss, it's difficult for the average person
to not only find out what works, but also understand how to apply
In order to help clear the air, I'm going to dispel some of the
myths that are floating around and give you some facts backed up
with real science on how the human body actually metabolizes food.
First, let's talk about why the low-carb approach is so popular.
There are a few reasons, but the most common is that people are
finally realizing that the low-fat/high carb approach that has been
promoted for decades now just doesn't work! Not only is it making
us fatter, it's also responsible for dozens of diseases and illnesses.
..most Americans eat too many carbs and are deficient
in the healthy dietary fats. However, it seems that it has to be
one extreme or the other with people in this country. So now many
people are cutting carbs and avoiding them like the plague, which
is just as bad.
..you say that it works? Maybe you or someone you
know has tried the low-carb approach and noticed significant weight
loss. Yes, cutting carbs will cause you to lose weight, but not
much actual body fat, if any at all. So, why do most people lose
weight so quickly? It's because the human body holds 2.4g of water
for every 1 gram of carbohydrate consumed. Cut the carbs and all
you do is hold less water! This artificial weight loss is the main
reason so many people are going low-carb.
So, not only does following a low-carb diet cause you to lose water,
it also depletes muscle glycogen which leaves you feeling sluggish
when trying to be active or workout. Remember, carbs are stored
as glycogen in the muscles and glycogen is what's used to fuel your
Another problem with severely limiting carbs is that the brain
uses carbs for energy and without enough carbs, you won't be 100%
mentally. While I agree that people are different and that some
people do better on lower amounts of carbs, most people will feel
like crap after a week or two with no or low carbs.
But all the fitness and nutrition `gurus' say that carbs are stored
as fat, right? WRONG! Any excess energy (food or beverage) can be
stored as fat it doesn't matter if it's french fries or salad!
Extra is extra is extra! To my knowledge, there has not been but
one study that actually measured body fat of individuals following
a low-carb both before and after to see exactly how much body fat
was lost. Plus, this study was funded by a grant from Dr. Atkins!
Also, there is quite a bit more research that shows that carbs
are not only ok to eat, but that they also contain vital nutrients
that can't be found in other foods.
A recent study done by French and Canadian researchers found that
consuming carbohydrates in small amounts did NOT inhibit fat burning
and only approximately 4% of it was stored as fat. This was in individuals
who were not exercising.
They also assessed the effect of carbohydrates in individuals who
performed light to moderate intensity exercise and found that the
small carbohydrate meal resulted in no fat being stored and did
NOT inhibit fat burning. Plus, even the large carbohydrate meal
had NO effect on fat burning and all of it went directly to the
muscles to replenish glycogen and repair tissue.
Just imagine what happens when you do a hard workout!
So what does this mean in plain English? Basically, carbs are fine
in small to moderate amounts (even if you don't exercise) and on
days you do exercise, the carbs are going to be stored in the muscles
and not as fat.
So to all those people out there who think that eating carbs will
result in them being stored as fat and it `shutting off; the fat
burning, I've got good news for you
You can finally have that big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs you've
So how can you apply this to your eating and fitness program? Here
are a couple of things to keep in mind:
1. You need carbs just the right amount and the right type
So what are the right types? Focus on eating carbs that are high
in fiber such as vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains.
2. Vary the amount of carbs you have based on how active you are
For example on days you don't exercise, eat less carbs and
maybe vary the types.
3. The one time you can go carb crazy is right after you exercise
For example if you want to cheat and have ice cream the
best time would be right after a hard workout.
Focus on eating balanced carbs, proteins and fats; and again,
adjust the amount of each based on how active you are and plan to
I also recommend you do so research yourself and learn as much
as you can about human metabolism and sound nutrition. Here are
some great resources:
You can also find some great resources and articles at my website
I hope you found this article informative and I wish you the best.
Remember, the more you know the better off you'll be.
Jesse Cannone is a certified personal fitness trainer, post-rehab
specialist, nutritionist, and a national fitness presenter. He is
also the author of Burn Fat FAST and A Bride's Guide To Fast Fitness
+ Weight Loss in addition to many other popular fitness articles.
He is known for his hard-hitting and to the point style and offers
a great free email newsletter called Fitness Success News, which
you can subscribe to at his website http://www.achieve-fitness.com