In this final installment I want to briefly discuss rare exceptions in which a low carb approach is either essential or allowed for maximal results, and a few myths that are constantly affiliated with low carb dieting.
Without specific gene testing being prescribed and performed there is truly noway to identify these individuals. People love to use this as an excuse, and that is all it really is when it comes down to it. A future fat loss/nutrition article will be “5 potential genetic reasons why youʼre overweight and how to overcome it.” If you are part of this really small percentage of population thatʼs been recognized by research who possess the physical tendencies that make fat gain more difficult then you fall into this category and fat loss will be slightly to moderately easier for you.
#2-STEROID/PRO HORMONE USERS:
If this is you then no aspect of this entire article pertains to you, and it really does not matter what you eat because you are going to simultaneously gain muscle and lose fat, and you can thank the needle or the pill.
Mastermind Lyle Mcdonald has devised a brilliant water depletion/physique maximizing cycle included in his book “The Ketogenic Diet.” This is a rare and unique case where this type of athlete will need to temporarily reduce and limit their carb intake in certain quantities, at certain times, for certain durations to remove water from the body to benefit their appearance and look tighter prior to being judged in competition. Keep in mind this microcycle or phase of a program only lasts approximately a week. Finally I will bust 5 common myths associated with low carb dieting. These have been in existence and advocated regularly in the mainstream media since I can remember, but in no way shape or form are they necessary for maximizing fat loss and losing weight for ANYONE, period. And hereʼs why….
#1-IMPROVED INSULIN SENSITIVITY:
This has been a commonly held belief for quite some time. Basically, reducing carbs lowers insulin hormone release and you wont feel hungrier and store body fat since your body is either not making or refusing the hormone. Aside from being absolutely oversimplified, the notion is false. Insulin is always released to some extent when we eat, whether its carbs, protein, or fat. This thought process is treating the symptom and not the cause of the problem. “This decreased sensitivity is mostly due to the cells losing their specialized receptors for insulin, in response to the constant insulin signal-a process called down-regulation (Sapolsky, 60).” This is all just a bunch of fancy terminology for not handling carbs well because of being overweight. If you want to eliminate this problem then all you need to do is lose fat weight and exercise. Several studies have confirmed that fat loss and exercise improves insulin sensitivity.
#2-FASTER FAT/WEIGHT LOSS:
To bust this myth quickly I am going to illustrate two numerical representations ofa 180 lbs. person losing weight on both a hypothetical low carb approach and a moderate/high carb approach while consuming a fixed amount of 2000 calories per day. As you will see, the difference in weight loss will be identical and the increase in fat loss from the low carb approach will be nothing. Remember that if your eating less carbs your eating more of either protein or fat, given the same amount of calories. The breakdown below reflects this idea well. The actual calorie burn from the low carb column will be less because of all the negative things that occur to our metabolism that I discussed previously under reason #8 in the second part of this series. If we consider this, protein calories burned/muscle loss will be higher and fat loss calories burned will be less than what is actually recorded below. I did not give values of this because its impossible to practically measure. Itʼs generally accepted though that the lower the carbs the more muscle will be burned, and less fat. I just wanted to share a simplistic model of energy transfer, so everyone could see the hype and how it works.
LOW CARB APPROACH: MODERATE/HIGH CARB APPROACH:
TOTAL CALORIES CONSUMED: 2000 TOTAL CALORIES CONSUMED: 2000
CARBS=400 calories (20% of total calories) CARBS=800 calories (40% of total calories)
PROTEIN=600 calories (30%) PROTEIN=600 calories (30%)
FAT=1000 calories (50%) FAT=600 calories (30%)
TOTAL CALORIES BURNED: 3000 TOTAL CALORIES BURNED: 3000
CARBS=700 calories CARBS=1100 calories
PROTEIN=600 calories PROTEIN=600 calories
FAT=1700 calories FAT=1300 calories
Note: Carb burn is higher than consumption due to the fact that glycogen (sugar stores) are present when we first start dieting and then removed from the body within the first 24 hours of dieting.
#3-ITS THE ONLY WAY TO REACH SINGLE DIGIT BODYFAT LEVELS:
Before I discuss any science check out this link; http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=329879553688841&set=pu.141064505903681&type=1&theater. I was at 10.5% body fat. A little higher I know, but I was actually 5-7lbs. heavier in this picture and definitely a little fatter than I was two weeks prior. Itʼs safe to say that I was around 8-9%, and I utilized a moderate to high carb approach throughout the entire duration of my diet! This is part of the foundation for the HSC Complete Nutritional System that I innovated and will be disclosing in the future, once my book is complete. Anyways, the common claim in science is that increased Insulin due to higher carb consumption inhibits beta 2 receptor activation and activates alpha 2 receptor activation. In laymen terms, the beta receptor binds the fat burning hormones (The Catecholamines) and creates fat loss. Alpha is just the opposite. Now if you remember Insulin is still released when we consume both protein and fat, but to a lesser degree than carbs. So if you reduce carbs then you subsequently lower insulin. Iʼll give you that, but its not enough to shut off fat loss completely and the hormoneʼs effects only last so long before digestion and the absorption phase of eating is over and then we start to become more catabolic (Post-Prandial Phase) and start using more energy/fat again. Plus, if we eat more calories in general, whether it be through carb, fat, or protein we increase Insulin, so itʼs not just carbs stopping fat burn temporarily. Lastly, high intensity training and reduced calories are going to determine whether or not we remove those final pounds of fat in the body.
#4-REDUCES HUNGER AND APPETITE LEVELS:
Ketosis induced from low carb consumption is a state in the body that has been suggested to blunt hunger and appetite when dieting. This is oversimplified as their are many regulators of these 2 functions that are constantly interacting to determine the end result of how hungry we feel throughout the day. Below is a list of all factors that I could think of that affect hunger and appetite at any give time:
3-Hormonal levels and tolerances (Cortisol, Leptin, Insulin, etc.)
4-Smell, taste, sight, sound
5-Macronutrient ratios (amounts of carb, protein, and fat)
13-Meal timing and frequency
I am sure I am probably excluding some, but I think it gets the point across that lowering carbs is definitely not the sole cure to blunting hunger and appetite. I should also note that lowering carbs did not guarantee reduced hunger and appetite in many of the studies that have been done.
#5-MORE CARBS=MORE FAT GAIN:
Studies have had people eat thousands of extra calories coming from carbs and we still expressed an inability to convert and store them as fat (De Novo Lipogensis). Not really sure where this idea was derived from, but itʼs false. Our body naturally switches to burning whatever type of food we are eating more of at the time. Also, we have large storage centers in the body for carbs/sugar, and I am sure there are other routes and pathways by which we can remove carbs without storing them as fat in the body.
In conclusion, I apologize for the lengthy article, but a lot of things needed to be addressed in regards to this topic. As you can clearly see at this point, the risk to benefit ratio of the low carb diet is very poor. Now many are going to bring up the idea of carb sources which is completely different (Soda vs. Fruit, etc.). I think many would be surprised of what science actually says about carb source and selection, but that is another article for another day. I am sure that this approach will never be abolished no matter how convincing the evidence, but it should be according to science. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for many more great fat loss and nutrition related articles to come. Please email me or inform me if there is something in particular that you would like me to write about.
1-Ferrugia, Jason (2007). Muscle Building Secrets.
2-Sapolsky, M. Robert (1998). Why Zebras Donʼt Get Ulcers. New York: W. H. Freemanand Company.
3-Clark, A. Michael (2008). NASM Essentials of Personal Training. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
4-Baggett, Kelly (2006). The No Bull Muscle Building Plan.
5-Mcdonald, Lyle (1998). The Ketogenic Diet. Austin: Sixth Printing.
6-Saladin, Ken (2007). Anatomy and Physiology, Unity of Form and Function. NewYork: Mcgraw-Hill.
7-Mcardle, William (2007). Exericse Physiology, Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance. Maryland: Lippinott Williams & Wilkins.