The Myths About Low Carb Diets

Whenever I ask someone what they are following for weight loss, a common response is, “I’m doing a low carb diet.”

This idea has floated around since the Atkins diet phase and has seemed to settle into most people’s minds as ‘the way to lose weight’. Most people assume that carbs are “fattening”.  Let’s see if you’ve heard some of these comments before:

  • Carbs spike your blood sugar and insulin, which pours on the body fat.
  • Carbs, especially grains and sugar, cause inflammation.
  • Carbs are not essential to your diet, like proteins and healthy fats are.

These seem pretty logical and simple, right? Well, honestly, no. It seems as simple as “good” versus “bad” but let’s break it down a little more focused.

  • Do carbs increase insulin levels? Yes
  • Does increased insulin after meals cause weight gain? No, insulin is actually a hormone that helps keep you full so the idea that by itself it leads to fat gain doesn’t make much sense.
  • Are carbs inflammatory? That depends. If we are talking about processed corn syrup then probably so; but if we’re talking about whole grains then the answer would be different.
  • Can low carb eating help people lose weight? Of course it can! Because it’s less in carbs? Any type of meal plan that you are eliminating calories (here, it’s a whole nutrient), you will definitely drop weight.
  • Can eating an appropriate amount of carbs help you to look and feel good? Most definitely, YES!

Now, let’s talk a bit about how not eating carbs can work against us.

If you’re using the idea of eliminating or cutting out carbs as a weight loss strategy alone, it will work well for some people. Like I said above, when you are reducing your daily amount of calories due to cutting back in any way, you will definitely lose weight. It just goes back to “less calories in equals a calorie deficit which then leads to weight loss”.

But let’s talk about the downside of cutting out carbs; most of us need some level of carbohydrates to function at our best over the long run. That initial weight gain you may enjoy can later be met with some highly negative consequences later. This applies especially to those who workout. I know if I cut my carb intake too much, I’m met with the crazy feelings of what we’ve coined, ‘hangry’. This reduction also can lead to: decreased thyroid output, increased cortisol output (aka; stress hormone), decreased testosterone, impaired moods and cognitive function, muscle breakdown and problems with our immune functions.

I’m not sure that some temporary weight loss is worth all the long term effects, what do you think?

Let’s summarize this into more simple results:

  • You eat less carbs and your metabolism might slow down but your stress hormones go up. (this is not a good swap!)
  • You eat less carbs and your muscle building hormones go down. (again, not good for long term toned bodies!)
  • You eat less carbs and you feel grouchy, spaced out, sluggish, cranky and maybe even sick. (seriously???)
  • You eat less carbs and don’t even lose that much weight in the long run and may even be met with worse results over time.

Need I say more? If you would like to learn more helpful information to get you better results over time, join the Fit & Toned Academy that’s coming end of September and get a month FREE!

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*information gathered and found at Precision Nutrition 

Why sugar can make or break your health goals

I know that summer is winding down to a close. I know this because school is already in session. But the weather is still hot and the season is still enticing us with the foods we are choosing to eat and the drinks we drink.
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It’s important to understand the who, what, where and how of the foods we eat and how they affect our bodies. I understand the struggle of needing more willpower. But in all actuality, our long term results are not reflected by our short term habits. In order to create long term results, it’s important to understand exactly why we should do what we should do and how to create balance instead of deprivation and overindulging.

When someone suffers from insulin resistance, it means that they have cells that don’t the insulin effectively. The cells then have trouble absorbing the glucose and this causes a buildup of sugars in our blood. When the blood glucose levels are higher than normal (but not quite high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes), the result is a condition known as “pre-diabetes”.

We don’t know exactly why some people develop insulin resistance, while others don’t, but there are a few tell tale signs. One; being overweight or obese are leading factors. Two; being sedentary (lack of movement during the course of every day) can also cause the symptoms that lead to pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. When you add the two together; overweight and sedentary lifestyle, the risks rise.

So back to my first point about summer and how it ties in with insulin resistance. The summer season brings an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, which make it easier to eat healthily but it also brings some risks. Knowing these risks and learning how to deal with them will help our bodies run efficiently and our habits may begin to motivate those around us. #bonus

So what tastes better while lounging around on a lazy summer day than some fruity cocktail drinks and some ice cream treats? I know…pretty tempting, right? Unfortunately, these are dangerous foods for our blood sugar levels. We are simply trading in a few minutes of pleasure (drug like high) when we indulge in these cold and sugar-loaded treats, for a dangerous road that may lead to long term chronic illness.

The danger comes when we choose to continue to indulge in too much sugar, because our bodies respond by producing more and more insulin. When there is too much insulin in our bodies, it trains our cells to become resistant and thus forms the insulin resistance problems.
Now, I realize these facts alone aren’t enough to stop us from eating ice cream and indulging in sugary drinks and snacks…me neither! But moderation is the key to lasting results and long term better health. Still with me? We can have our cake and eat it too…but we also need to be smart about how much we are eating and how we eat it.
One more thing I’d like to mention today to bring this all together. I’m sure you’ve heard about the glycemic index, right? This is simply a way of categorizing foods according to their effects on the levels of glucose in our blood. Pretty cool, right? A food that has a high glycemic index will cause more glucose to build up than a food with low glycemic index.
I know, I know…knowledge is truly powerful!  If we want to help control our blood sugar levels, then we should focus on eating foods with a low glycemic index. It’s also important to note that when we eat foods with a high glycemic index (because I’m all about moderation and not deprivation), just make sure to eat it with a low glycemic food to help slow the effects on our blood sugar levels.
What are high glycemic foods? Think, white flours, white sugars, white rices, and white potatoes. (I know, they are “healthy” but that doesn’t mean they don’t fall into this category).
Low glycemic foods are ones that contain more fiber and protein. Think “clean eating” and you’ll be on the right path. This category includes choices like beans, whole grains, lean proteins and nuts.
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In conclusion to this information overload (or maybe you already knew all of this), it’s important to follow the 80/20 rule of thumb. Follow a diet full of clean, whole foods 80% of the time and indulge in your favorite treats 20% of the time so you can have the best of both worlds. Being healthy, looking our best and feeling awesome are really great trade offs to cutting out those indulgent periods. Just by becoming more aware of these facts and the glycemic index will help us eat better and reduce stresses on our bodies. When you choose to indulge in a high glycemic treat like ice cream, for example; make sure to enjoy it at the end of a meal that contains low glycemic (clean eating) foods. And a bonus would be to have it on a day when you have done some resistance training.
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As the summer season comes to a close (and really throughout the entire year), have your occasional treats, and make sure they are strictly occasional. Your body and taste buds will thank you in the long run!