The main premise of a low carbohydrate diet, is to teach the body to utilize stored body fat as the main source of energy, rather than carbohydrates. As the body’s favored source of energy is carbohydrates, a reduction in the intake of carbs will cause the body to seek out an alternative. Fat is the second targeted macro-nutrient for energy, then comes protein, which is obviously in high abundance in one’s body as skeletal muscle.
If you are interested in losing body fat, while retaining muscle mass, a low carb diet is something to look into. Research has shown that a reduction on carbohydrates had a higher increase in the loss of body fat, specifically visceral fat, which is the deep belly fat that most of us are interested in eliminating when we’ve moved from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one. This is another reason why most athletes who are interested in getting rid of that pesky belly fat, turn to a low carb diet.
Aside from research promoting the power of low carbing for fat loss, this reduction in visceral fat also helps with reducing your chance of developing type II diabetes, stroke, heart disease and other chronic illnesses associated with this type of fat.
The driving force behind a low carb diet, is the theory that insulin prevents the breakdown of fat because of the preference for the body to use carbohydrates. To shift the body from its’ preferred energy source, the reduction in insulin will increase the breakdown of body fat for energy.
It is this concept that has inspired me to utilize a low carbohydrate diet over a conventional low calorie diet. Now, I am not saying that you do not have to lower your caloric intake to lose body fat because that’s inevitable and understood. But, reducing your carbohydrates will in turn, reduce your caloric intake. My inspiration came from the body utilizing the fat I have stored as energy, instead of the carbohydrates I am accustom to consuming every single day.
A rule of thumb, on how much carbohydrates is considered low carbing, is eating between 50 to 150 grams. Most trainers will suggest that your highest carb day be correlated with your highest intensive training day. For example, if you are working legs, this could be one of your high carb days. Also, when doing a low carb diet or any low caloric diet, an increase in protein and fat, should follow. To increase your fat intake, you can cook with your oils, use butter and eat nuts.
As a warning, which is not normally highlighted when one is looking up low carb diets or information on it, is that you could experience what is called low carb dieting headaches. This is believed to be due to the drastic reduction of carbohydrates in our diets. This drastic drop may cause headaches because of our body’s “addiction”, to the carbohydrates that have been removed. Basically, you are in withdrawals. There aren’t much recommendations to help with the headaches, other than increase your water intake because some of the loss in weight comes from water loss also or taking some over the counter medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. This headache should not last more than 4 days, in general. If it persists, you may have to stop the diet or see a doctor.
Remember, all diet works best with exercise and to consult a doctor before engaging in any type of restrictive dieting regimen.Read More »