Why a “Low Carb Diet” Isn’t Evil
A low carb diet. Yuck.
It seems to be an evil, disgusting phrase comparable to taxes, 1% or malk.
The truth is that the negative propaganda isn’t that credible.
As you have seen through The Protein Series, a diet high in fat and protein, often considered a low carb diet plan, can be beneficial for a ton of reasons.
- Low carb diets emphasizes highly thermic foods to help get your metabolism moving to make energy, strength, and overall happiness more prevalent in your life. Hello great workouts.
- By controlling the hormone insulin and decreasing glycogen, low carb foods forces your body to use more fat cells for fuel. Bye fat.
- Low carb diet foods do a nice job of promoting leptin, PYY and other satiating hormones, while controlling insulin. This helps know when you have had enough. This is the best way to kick obesity in the face.
- By controlling obesity, raising HDL, and not impacting the bad small, dense LDL it prevents a lot of long term issues like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and more. A long, fulfilling life becomes a reality.
- The stuff that really matters to you: fitting in jeans, looking attractive at that reunion, being an inspiration to your family, and confidence at work.
When considering low carb diet side effects, one of the major concerns is if your carbs are low enough you can even burn muscle for energy, converting muscle tissue into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. I know gluconeogenesis probably doesn’t keep you up at night, but doctors like to throw it at you if you whisper the word “low-carb”.
The concern is not only that muscle tissue turns into fat, but the bigger fear is your body has no energy to feed your brain and central nervous system if you don’t eat carbs. Sounds pretty hideous huh?
What Really Happens Without Carbs on a Low Carb Diet
Well, when these reserve tanks of energy in your muscle get dumped overboard, and converted into glucose, this is actually a good thing. Dr. Michael Eades mentions, that this will keep your glucose working enzymes doing the chemical reactions they need to with the new fuel from your muscles when you don’t have a lot of carbs for energy. So the energy your body needs is still there and this glucose from your muscles is used as energy instead of being stored as fat in your fat cells.
Eades also mentions that by including protein and 50-70% of your diet from fat (fatty cuts, avocados, coconut oil, and smaller amounts of nuts and seeds) this is a stealth way to replenish muscle glycogen that your muscles need for future energy. This is why a low-carb diet can be fine if you have a large dose of dietary fat.
So why else is a low carb diet healthy? According to Robb Wolf and Gary Taubes, the other interesting thing that happens when you don’t have carbs your liver starts to generate a compound called ketones from your fatty acids. Without glucose from carbs, this is the only substance used as energy by your whole body, including brain, kidney, heart, etc. This process is known as ketosis or a ketogenic diet. It is often used for individuals with epilepsy. Your body actually starts to function more efficiently without glucose. You become leaner, stronger bones, your skin clears up, and many other things that may make you smile.
Yep…not so evil. You probably should go tell Low-Carb Diet you are sorry and give him a big hug.
Not-So-Low after All
So while all of that is possible and healthy, we are still very strong advocates of fruits and vegetables, especially the vegetables. They have fiber to help with insulin-spiking, unlike other carbs. They have more nutrients, add variety, and simply taste good.
There are a lot of definitions of what is considered a low carb diet. Low is such a relative word.
In fact, in low carb diets that works, you should be able to eat as many vegetables as you want. That in essence isn’t very much of a “low-carb diet” if you can load of with those carbohydrates. Sorry if I failed you meat lovers. At the same time for those that think “low-carb” is a swear word, here is your loophole to help you sleep at night without feeling embarrassed.
A fine balance of protein, vegetables, and fat is a healthy low carb diet that is primarily what everyone should shoot for in each meal. This is the best way I have seen how to do a low carb diet that works. If you do that, your health will improve drastically.
Kidney and Liver Issues
The one word of caution I have is if you have a history of kidney or liver problems. If you do, you should avoid a high protein diet. It doesn’t mean you stop taking animal protein, but protein should consist of 30% of your diet. I would go with leaner cuts and stick to chicken, turkey, and fish. Make sure to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and keep things flushing through your system.