Carb vs. High Carb Diets
When it comes to
losing weight and keeping it off, both low carb and high
carb diets actually have a principle in common that works. The
principle that they both share is this:
- Stay away
glycemic index carbohydrates which can spike your
blood sugar and insulin levels. The Glycemic Index
is a numerical index that ranks carbohydrates based on
their rate of glycemic response (ie. their conversion to
glucose within the human body). The higher the
glycemic index value, the more rapid the rise in blood
- At the same
time eat low glycemic index carbohydrates which will keep
your blood sugar and insulin levels nice and even.
your blood sugar and insulin levels going up and down with
big variations causes you to become hungry more frequently,
which causes you to overeat. And as we all know, when you
overeat you tend to gain weight. So this principle of
staying away from high glycemic index carbohydrates explains
why both diets seem to work when it comes to losing weight.
specific reason why is because while a low carbohydrate diet
like the South Beach diet focuses on limiting carbohydrates
(and only allowing carbohydrates that have low glycemic
index values) a high carbohydrate diet like the McDougall
diet focuses on whole, complex carbohydrates which tend to
have low glycemic index values as well. This is why people
who get on what seem to be completely different diets, the
low carb diet and the high carb diet, can both lose weight.
What Kind Of
Fuel Is Burning?
There is another interesting aspect to high and low glycemic
index carbohydrates that have an effect on weight loss. Your body
secretes insulin to move blood sugar out of your blood
stream and into your cells. But insulin also does something
else. It turns out that insulin plays a role in determining
just what kind of fuel mix our bodies burn during the day.
Specifically, when high levels of insulin are secreted, the
result is that your body is forced to burn carbohydrates
rather than fat.
Let's say that
over the course of 3 days, you eat a diet that is very high
in high glycemic index carbohydrates. The result will be
that a very high percentage of the fuel you burn will be
carbohydrate. As a result, very little fat will be burned.
let's say for another 3 days you eat the same amount of
carbohydrates. Only this time all the carbohydrates you eat
are in the form of low glycemic index carbohydrates. In this
case, your body will burn more fat for fuel.
So not only
will you not be as hungry if you eat carbohydrates that have
low glycemic index values but your body will end up using
more of the fat in your diet and more of the fat in your
body as fuel.
Low Carb Weight
One thing that
often happens when a person switches to a diet where the
carbohydrates they eat are dramatically reduced is there is
a quick loss of body weight right away. The weight they
lose, unfortunately, is often mostly water.
Your body has
about 500 grams (just over one pound) of glycogen reserves
stored in your liver and in your muscles. When carbohydrate
is no longer provided in your diet in sufficient quantities,
your body begins to use those glycogen reserves for muscle
contraction and other needs.
It is known
that 1 gram of carbohydrate in your body, in the form of
your glycogen reserves, binds with 4 grams of water.
So when you use up your 500 grams of glycogen reserves over
the course of the first few days you are on the new low
carbohydrate diet, you end up losing 2,000 grams (500 times
4) of weight in the form of water. Now add in the 500
grams of glycogen that your body used up as well during that
time and you have a total of 2,500 grams or 2.5 kilograms
(5.5 pounds) of weight that you have lost.
may sound good to some, none of that weight you lost was
body fat! It was all water and glycogen. This
biochemical process is what often accounts for the quick
weight loss that people experience when they first go on a
low carbohydrate diet.
everyone knows that regular exercise should be included with
a weight loss program. But have you ever tried to exercise
when your glycogen stores are very low? Believe me, it's not
fun at all. It's very hard because you have no energy. So a
low carbohydrate diet may create a tired feeling in your
body and prevent you from wanting to exercise.
When your body
runs low on glycogen reserves, it will actually start to
break down muscle tissue in order to create glycogen to feed
your brain. Remember, your brain is fueled almost
exclusively by carbohydrates.
The point is
that with this kind of low carbohydrate diet you end up not
only losing weight in the form of water and glycogen but you
end up losing muscle mass also. And it is the muscle mass
that you want to build or at least maintain in order to have
a way to burn stored body fat. Metabolism increases as
muscle mass increases.
Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!
The full crunch is one of the more popular abdominal exercises
for those that want to bump up the intensity on a normal
crunch. With both the upper and lower abdominals
engaged, this exercise gives you a great bang for your buck.
Upper and lower Abdominals (rectus abdominus)
position lying flat on your back with your legs straight in
leg lift position. With your hands lightly behind your
head, crunch your shoulders up and your knees towards your
chest at the same time. Return to starting position and repeat.
Converted To Fat?
popular belief, it turns out that studies of the
science of biochemistry in humans say that excess carbohydrates in the body, it turns out, are not
converted to fat!
into a lot of details, the main reason that carbohydrates
are not readily converted into fat in the human body is
because it is very inefficient from a metabolic standpoint
and requires a lot of energy to do it. And the human body is
a very, very efficient machine by design.
happens is any excess carbohydrate that isn't used
immediately by the body for its needs is stored as glycogen
in the muscles and in the liver and the rest is simply
burned and released as heat through the skin and lungs. The
body just doesn't want to convert carbohydrates into fat.
Now, if a
person were to eat a TON of carbohydrates day after day
after day then, yes, the body will begin to convert it to
fat. But it would require a person to eat more than 5,000
calories a day, all in the form of carbohydrate calories.
carbohydrates being quite low in calories, that's an
enormous amount of food that a person would have to eat. In
fact, 5,000 carbohydrate calories a day equals about 33
potatoes that you would have to eat every day before your
body would begin to start converting the excess carbohydrate
Why Do People Get
If science has shown that your body doesn't convert excess
carbohydrate into fat, what exactly is going on then with
people who are supposedly eating large amounts of
carbohydrates and are getting fat? What is actually
happening is this:|
- they are
eating high glycemic index carbohydrates, usually in the
form of highly processed foods that also have fat in them.
- they are
staying hungry all the time, are overeating and the large
amounts of fats that are in their diets are making them
here's what to remember when it comes to losing weight and
keeping it off.
- One of the
causes of getting fat is overeating. If you want to make
it easier to stop overeating, add a lot of low glycemic
index carbohydrates to your diet.
- If you want
to have your body burn a larger amount of fat as fuel, cut
out the high glycemic index carbohydrates in your diet.
- The quick
weight loss that people often experience when they go on a
low carbohydrate diet is water and glycogen, not body fat.
- There is way
more fat in your diet than you realize, especially if you
are eating highly processed and packaged foods. Instead of
stuffing yourself with foods that have a lot of fat in
them, stuff yourself with low glycemic index
I never liked
the term "diet". Diets are typically thought of as
short term plans that you have to endure until you reach a
goal or give up trying. The negative feelings
associated with diets don't do much for your motivation
either. If you make permanent changes in your eating
habits that you can sustain over time (portion control, less
deep fried foods, cut down on "junk food"), you will get
used to these changes as they become habit and realize more
permanent benefits than a "diet".|
If you've been
reading my eNewsletters you probably have already heard me
talk about "Smart Eating". Understanding the effects
of the glycemic index on your body is a good way to become
more educated in nutrition concepts so that you can make
better food choices.
I am not a
registered dietician, but I can tell you from personal
experience that there are a lot of practices that you can
change, without starving yourself, that will add up to
significant progress. If you have trouble adhering to
typical diets, start with smaller changes to your every day
eating and progress a little at a time. The bottom
line is that you want to find a beneficial long term program
that you can stick with... forever!
For prior issues of this
newsletter go to
lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters
compared to what lies within us"