Carbohydrates and Weight Loss
Fad diets that promise fast weight loss are becoming more popular and more common. With such appealing claims, it can be easy to fall in to their trap.
There are many popular diets that suggest exclusion of carbohydrates to be the answer, however, research has shown these diets to be ineffective in the long term.
Why carbohydrate restriction results in short term weight loss
It is true that exclusion of carbohydrates can lead to fast weight loss. Although this may seem encouraging, it is only a short term response. Carbohydrate foods break down in to glucose in the body and glucose is essential in providing energy for the brain and kidneys. When glucose is not being ingested via food, glucose and glycogen stores from the liver and muscles must be used. According to the Better Health Channel, in order to release 1g of stored glycogen, 3g of fluid is required. Any rapid weight loss is therefore a result of water losses opposed to loss of fat. It is not possible for the body to lose significant amounts of fat in very short time frames.
Why it is not sustainable
Many people on a low carbohydrate diet will experience symptoms such as:
- Light headedness
The absence of glucose for the brain often leads to an inability to think clearly, the body can not work at its optimal capacity as it is under more stress than normal. Additionally, many other important vitamins and minerals are also being cut out of a low carbohydrate diet making it difficult to meet nutritional requirement e.g. fibre, thiamine, folate, calcium and iron. This can lead to some serious complications in the long-term such as an increased risk of osteoporosis and bowel cancer. Low carbohydrate diets also tend to be higher in saturated fat.
It is often unrealistic that individuals can restrain from eating such a broad range of foods for so long i.e starchy vegetables, fruit, bread, most dairy and grains. The return to carbohydrate rich foods will lead to quick weight gain, potentially gaining all the weight that was lost or more. This weight gain is contributed to the restoration of fluid stores and muscle due to the majority of weight loss having consisted of fluid rather than fat.
These diets are particularly dangerous for individuals with diabetes as the body can undergo metabolic changes and become acidic.
What is the best way to lose weight?
The most effective and safe way to lose weight is to eat a healthy, balanced diet accompanied with regular exercise. The key is moderation and to acknowledge the point at which your body is satisfied. Carbohydrate foods are necessary for good health and choosing wisely will not lead to weight gain. It is important to remember that losing weight gradually is more sustainable than any diet promising fast results.
For assistance with weight loss or for more advice and guidance, contact ENT Wellbeing Diet and Nutrition for a consult with our dietitian Belinda Elwin. Call us to make an appointment today on 1300 123 368.