Is Restricting Your Carb Intake Bad For You?
Carbohydrates have had a bad reputation for years. People blame carbs for weight gain, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, etc. The highly popular Atkins diet promotes a low carb diet as the best way to lose fat.
It is believed that when the diet is low in carbs, the body will stop metabolizing glucose and instead burn the body’s fat stores for fuel. In this way, you will lose weight effectively and with less of a struggle.
The truth of the matter is that carbs are essential to good health. Your body needs carbs just like how it needs protein and fats. Restricting it excessively has its negative consequences which we will look at later. What really matters is that you are consuming good carbohydrates.
Good carb sources such as whole wheat pasta, quinoa, bananas, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain bread, vegetables, fruits, etc. are excellent for your body. It’s the bad carbohydrates that should be avoided and eliminated.
White bread, white flour products, etc. are carbs that cause the problems. It would not be wise to tar the good carbs with the same brush.
Before looking at the negative consequences of carb restriction, let’s look at some of the benefits that can be accrued from restricting or eliminating the detrimental carbs from our diet.
Firstly, any blood pressure and cholesterol problems that you have will significantly reduce. Secondly, a low carb diet is much more effective that a low fat diet. Thirdly, your blood sugar levels will be stable and your good cholesterol levels will rise.
These are wonderful benefits that anyone can enjoy by avoiding processed carbs.
However, when you go overboard and restrict your carb intake excessively, you will experience ill-effects. Ideally, you should be consuming 100 to 150 grams of good carbs per day. You will still be able to lose weight if your body is at a caloric deficit.
If you reduce your carb intake excessively for too long, you will suffer muscle loss and reach a weight loss plateau. This is when you can’t lose fat no matter what you do. The muscle loss will also result in a slower metabolic rate because muscles burn more calories at rest. You’ll also have adrenal fatigue, reduced testosterone production and your thyroid functions will be affected.
You really do not want these occurring and they will just hinder and impede your fat loss progress.
If you wish to restrict carbs to accelerate your fat loss, there is one highly effective technique that you may employ to achieve your goals. It’s known as carb cycling.
Basically, you will be on a low carb diet for 3 to 4 days followed by 1 cheat day where you eat sufficient carbs. It is best to only consume healthy carbs.
This one cheat day will tell your body not to panic due to the low carb intake. Your metabolism will get a boost and the glycogen levels in your body will be topped up. Your muscles will feel fuller and feel stronger. It’s like an energy and fuel boost that makes your body burn more fat.
It is possible to be on a low carb diet and not suffer ill-effects as long as you have a cheat day every few days. Problems will only occur if you stay on a low carb diet for a prolonged period of time without any cheat days. Use carb cycling to shed your fat quickly and you can adopt the carb cycling method as a way of life to keep the fat away. It’s perfectly safe.
How to Vary Your Carb Intake for Maximum Fat Loss
Carbohydrate intake is one of the biggest factors affecting the speed at which you lose weight. In fact, the main reason most people gain weight is because they consume too much processed carbs.
When you eat processed carbs such as donuts, pasta, white bread, white potatoes, etc. the calories quickly add up and the body has a lot of fuel. It shuttles all the excess fuel into its fat stores and that’s how you gain weight. Furthermore, the processed carbs usually cause a spike in insulin levels which indirectly lead to weight gain. A double whammy.
There is no denying that a restricted carb intake will do wonders for your fat loss. In fact, studies have shown that restricting your carbs is more effective than restricting your calories. So, if you are on a 500 calorie deficit daily, and your carb intake is minimal, you will lose much more weight in the same span of time than you would by consuming carbs while on a deficit.
Does that make sense? In simple words, less carbs equals more fat loss. Sounds good? You bet!
When you cut down your carb intake, your body will burn more fat from its fat stores because it doesn’t have much carbs to burn for fuel. So, fat loss is accelerated. Your body’s blood sugar level will drop and people suffering from diabetes will seem an improvement in their condition. A restrictive carb diet also keeps type 2 diabetes at bay since your body’s insulin sensitivity is on point.
Your good cholesterol levels will go up and your bad cholesterol levels will drop. Many people assume that cholesterol is linked to fat intake. The truth is that a high carb intake also has an adverse impact on your cholesterol levels. This runs contrary to popular belief yet studies show that a low-carb diet has more positive effects on your triglycerides than a low-fat diet.
Now, it is important to note that you should never take things to extremes. This applies to carb restriction too. There are diets such as the Atkins diet which is based on severe restriction of carbs for long periods of time. This is detrimental to your body because you will end up fatigued, moody and weak. The diet is not sustainable and once you come off it, you will gain whatever weight you lost and a bit more.
Excessive carb restriction will compromise your immune system, lead to muscle loss, slow down your fat burning and put you in a weight loss plateau. Your body’s testosterone production will fall and you will have a suppressed thyroid output. You’ll also develop leptin resistance which doesn’t bode well for fat loss.
So, what do you do? How do you strike the right balance? You want the best of both worlds, don’t you?
The only way to achieve this is with a technique that is known as carb cycling. You will avoid carbohydrates for 3 to 6 days at a time. If you are overweight or obese and have a slower metabolism, you should aim for 5 to 6 days of minimal or zero carbs.
If you just have a few extra pounds to lose, you just need to go for 3 to 4 days with low or no carbs.
After the period of carb restriction, you will follow it with one day of carb intake. This is known as your “re-feed” day. Consume sufficient carbs on this day and you will give your body the fuel that it needs. Your metabolism will get a boost and your body will get a surge of energy as its fuel stores get replenished.
Stick to healthy carbs such as sweet potatoes, whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, etc. You should aim for a 500 to 700 calorie surplus over maintenance level. This will put your body back in fat burning mode. You can find out your calorie numbers here: http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm
Use this technique repeatedly to accelerate your fat loss and improve your health. Over time, you will find that you crave for processed foods less. Your insulin sensitivity will improve, the pounds will drop and you will look and feel like a brand new you.