Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Low Carb Works, At Least For Me

I've previously bought into a lot of the low carb hype: there is a metabolic advantage, carbs are fattening, low carb cures all, etc. But with time, wisdom arrives. The low carb way of eating seems to work for me, and, after a lot of thinking about it, here is why.

Protein and fat are very satiating and keep me full. Indeed, research shows that low carb dieters spontaneously consume fewer calories after feeling full, which leads to weight loss. This, I think, is the key element in weight loss on a carbohydrate restricted diet. But there are some other factors, too.

Protein and fat simply taste better than the low fat fare I ate on Weight Watchers. I hate skinless chicken breasts but love steak, eggs, and bacon. And vegetables. Food choices are simply easier, and for the first fifty pounds of my weight loss, I didn't have to count anything (although, I am now counting calories). I doubt I will ever go back to a Weight Watchers style, low fat diet. I genuinely like what I eat when low carbing.

That said, there seems to be a lot of misinformation about why low carb diets work. This post by Dana Carpender is a prime example. Dana, I love your cookbooks and use many of the recipes. But you are simply wrong here. She claims a five pound weight game came from eating a few too many grams of carbs over one week. In one sense, this is true and accurate. But it's not because carbs are fattening, as she implies.

When you slip up on a low carb diet, you do gain a lot of weight, almost immediately. But it's all water. When carbohydrates are stored in your body as energy in the form of glycogen, each molecule of glycogen is bonded to four molecules of water. This accounts for the first, rapid weight loss on a true, low carb diet: you deplete your glycogen stores (a 150 pound person has about a pound of glycogen stored up) and the water bonded to it. Hence, five pounds. When you replenish those glycogen stores by eating too many carbs, the water "loss" comes back. You can literally gain five pounds over night by cheating on a low carb diet.

I am quite certain this is what happened to Dana Carpender. Just get back in the saddle and try again, though you will deal with some side effects, such as hunger and higher blood sugar levels, for a couple of days. But be wise and understand it is a water gain, not a fat gain. Making you retain water is not the same thing as gaining fat, and the carbs she consumed are not fattening in the sense that she is storing extra fat. She is simply storing extra water. Think through it logically, folks: a few hundred (or even a few thousand) extra carb calories will not cause you to gain five pounds of fat.

No comments:

Post a Comment