The primary goal of any fat loss or weight loss diet is to create an environment where dropping pounds is possible safely and healthily. In a 2018 study on attempts at weight loss, it was found that from 2013-2016, 49.1% of U.S. citizens over the age of 18 years that attempted weight loss in the previous 12 months. Weight loss is at the heart of any well-made plan that you may have heard of, including Atkins, Low-Carb Paleo, or a Low-Carb, High Fat diet. Those diets recommend an ideal target for daily carb consumption but they follow the similar principles to produce a change in the body. Weight loss is possible only when the body maintains a deficit in calories. That deficit is only possible via a few methods:
- Taking in less than you burn off, in terms of calories
- Burn more calories than you consumer each day by increasing your physical activity
- Combine fewer calories eaten with more calories burned through physical activity
What Does the Body Use Carbs For?
Carbohydrates are used for energy in the body. They carry 4 calories per gram while fat carries 9 and protein also 4 calories per gram. Fats can be converted into fatty acids if they are to be used for energy but carbs are one of the fastest digesting energy sources. What the body does is to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars. With a rise in sugar levels in the body, the hormone insulin is released to transport it. In the form of simple sugar, carbs are allowed to be used by cells in the liver, brain, and muscles. The ideal level of dietary carbs varies between people. What is sometimes called pre-diabetes can change the effect that the body experiences from ingesting carbohydrates.
The core principles of different diets are the same but low carb diets bring a specific approach to calorie reduction. Carbohydrates are a macronutrient with a role that is different from the other macros, fat and protein. Carbs also have a unique response in the body, namely their effect on insulin.
Are Low Fat Diets Better for Fat Loss than Low Carb?
The classic comparison in the world of dieting is low fat versus low carb. Both can achieve a calorie deficit but they do it by different means. Numerous processed foods have historically reduced fat by adding in sugars to manage the flavor profile of their products. When the body ingests fat however, a different response is experienced than when carbohydrates are ingested. The resulting insulin spike is markedly lower for fat consumption, whereas carbs can produce an insulin spike with as few as 15 grams of carbohydrates. Low carb diets can have a quicker short term result for weight loss but may be difficult to sustain based on food choices. Eating quality fats can signal the starvation hormone, leptin. This hormone lets your body know that you have enough energy stored and can help with your appetite. The body has a use for both carbohydrates and fat and often in a dieting scenario, neither is better when not enough are ingested over when they are overconsumed.
The Best Low Carb Diets
The best low carb diets are the ones that can be carried out consistently and healthfully. Often with the goal of weight loss, dieters take extreme measures and do not always have their long term health in mind. Diets like Atkins, Low-Carb Paleo, or Low-Carb/High-Fat are feasible when they are approached with the reasonable expectation to do a lot of planning. The structure of the diet is often what creates the most success in terms of weight loss. This can include meal planning and cooking and finding ways to avoid temptations and the usual hurdles of social events that revolve around food. Hydration is also a major key to success with any diet. Flushing out toxins is a priority no matter where you may start in your weight loss efforts. Certain vegetables can be low carb options that are also high in vitamins and minerals. Starchy vegetables move closer towards high carb foods and can spike insulin and drive the body to store unused energy as fat. Micronutrients are often forgotten in any new diet plan and can add a host of benefits for your long term success. Peppers, broccoli, asparagus and yes, even cauliflower have an array of preparation options that can satisfy many different palates.
The Risks to Low Carb Diets
Immediate responses to a drastic drop in carbohydrates consumption can include constipation, headache, and muscle cramps. There are some instances of lipid abnormalities, heart arrhythmias, and kidney damage with long term carbohydrate restriction. Often diets that are lower in carbohydrates can incorporate vegetables that are fibrous and provide a fuller feeling. They also can combat a craving for sugary snacks due to higher levels of satiety when paired with lean proteins. These high fiber diets can help address some of the drawbacks of low carb diets and the stress they can induce on the gastro intestinal system.
Dieters from every walk of life have taken up weight loss challenges and fat loss plans. They do not often want to lose weight slowly but studies have shown that a steady and gradual weight loss plan might be best. Often the most sustainable diet is the one that provides the greatest benefit over the long haul. This can include more energy, vitality, a sense of health and balance and generally a great enjoyment daily. A low carb option can be a great choice if it supports your goals and can be arranged in a way that you can manage effectively. Listen to your body and where appropriate, review your plans with a professional to get the right support and be sure your steps are in line with your overall health. When targeting weight loss move more, eat less, and if you have your eye on a diet plan, make a choice that is consistent with the type of lifestyle that you can support.