Ask almost anyone what they need to do to lose a few pounds, and they’ll probably say: “Cut back on the carbs.” I’ve heard it hundreds of times.
While the low carb movement has waxed and waned in popularity since the Atkins revival of the late 90s and early 2000s, most folks now assume that carbohydrates are inherently fattening.
In the past few years, I’ll bet you’ve heard (or thought) at least one of the following: Carbs spike your blood sugar and insulin, which slathers on the body fat. Carbs, especially sugar and grains, cause inflammation.
Carbohydrates are not an essential part of your diet like fat and protein. It seems simple and logical. That's a problem. These simple statements about "good food" and "bad food" defy the biological complexity and the bigger picture. Let's take a closer look.
Do Carbohydrates Raise Insulin Levels?
Yes they do it. Does increasing insulin after meals cause obesity? No. (Insulin is a satiety hormone, so the idea that it leads to fat in itself makes no sense.)
Are Carbohydrates Really Inflammatory?
depends on. Are we talking processed corn syrup? most likely. But when we talk about whole grains, not really.
Are carbohydrates less important than proteins, fats and the many micronutrients that contribute to our health?
Well, if you are talking about processed carbs, then the answer is yes. But if you're talking about whole, minimally processed carbs, that's another story.
Can a low carb diet help people lose weight?
Of course it is possible. Is it because it is low in carbohydrates? perhaps.
Can eating the right amount of carbs help you look, feel and perform at your best?
Of course yes
the problem of not eating carbs
Reducing carbohydrates (reducing total calories) as a weight loss strategy is clearly very effective for some people. Otherwise, Atkins would not have been popular in the first place. But here is the problem. Cutting carbs costs us. As you know, most of us need a certain level of carbohydrates to perform better in the long run.
Of course, if you need to lose weight fast, you can reduce carbohydrates temporarily. But for many of us, going low carb for too long can have serious consequences. This is especially true for those of us who work out. If you’re sedentary, your carb needs are lower. So you might be able to get away with more restriction. But if you like to exercise regularly and enthusiastically, restricting your carb intake too drastically can lead to:
output increased cortisol output decreased testosterone impaired mood and cognitive function muscle catabolism suppressed immune function. In other words: Your metabolism might slow, your stress hormones go up and your muscle-building hormones go down. You feel lethargic, lethargic, sluggish, angry...maybe even sick. The most annoying thing is that you probably won't lose that weight in the long run.
Low thyroid In order to function properly and maintain a proper metabolism, our body produces an important hormone called T3. T3 is the most active thyroid hormone and is essential for glycemic control and proper metabolic function.
Low levels of T3 can lead to a condition called hyperthyroidism syndrome, where people feel cold and sluggish all the time.
A groundbreaking study, known as the Vermont Study, found that T3 is highly sensitive to calorie and carbohydrate intake. If your calories and carbs are too low, your T3 levels will drop.
Additionally, a study in Vermont found that another hormone, reverse T3 (rT3), is also sensitive to calorie and carbohydrate intake. Reverse T3, as the name suggests, inhibits T3. Eating enough carbs can lower your reverse T3. If you don't eat enough carbs, your carbs will increase and block the vital function of T3.
Vermont's study is not alone. Other studies have shown that a ketogenic (extremely low-carb) diet lowers T3 levels just as quickly as starvation. Additional studies show that when calories are held constant (in this case at 2100 calories), reducing carbohydrates from 409 g to 202 g and then to 104 g significantly reduced serum T3 levels (from 91 to 86 to 69 ng/dL respectively).
Finally, French researchers examined four calorically equal diets (2800 calories in this case), lasting 1 week each. Two of these diets contained 250 grams of carbs, which is a fairly typical proportion. The low-carb diet included 71 grams of carbs, and the high-carb diet included 533 grams of carbs. T3 levels were equal on the normal and high carb diets (ranging from 163.3 to 169.5 ng/100 mL).
However, on the low carb diet they fell to 148.6 ng/100 mL on average. And of course, rT3 correspondingly rose on the low carb diet, but not on the standard or high carb diets. Thyroid hormones are important for more than just weight loss; they also have profound effects on our overall health and energy levels.
Thus, when you don’t eat enough, and/or eat enough carbs while training: T3 goes down Reverse T3 goes up, further blocking T3 You feel like crap, and eventually your training sucks If you’re active, you need adequate energy and carb intakes for a healthy thyroid.
Cortisol up; testosterone down
Research consistently shows that people who exercise regularly need to eat enough carbs or their testosterone will fall while their cortisol levels rise. This is a surefire recipe for losing muscle and gaining fat. By the way, it's also a sign of overtraining load. A Life Sciences study found that a man who ate a high- and low-carbohydrate diet for 10 days had higher levels of testosterone, a sex hormone linked to globulin levels, and lower levels of cortisol.
A few years later, another study took this study one step further. This study targeted men and women who exercised regularly. And in addition to looking at the effects of diet on hormones, the researchers also conducted functional experiments. Again, testosterone (and other anabolic hormones) went down and cortisol went up on a low carb diet. And after just 3 days on the low-carb diet, only 2 of the 6 participants were able to pass the cycling test! Meanwhile, all six participants were able to complete the experiment by following a high carbohydrate diet for three days.
In 2010, researchers revisited the same question. This time involves strenuous exercise. In this particular study, people who ate a low-carb diet (30% of their calories came from carbs) had a 43% drop in their testosterone to cortisol ratio. Not good. On the other hand, the control group (consuming 60% of the calories from carbohydrates) did not realize the change in the testosterone/cortisol ratio. therefore: Insufficient carbohydrate intake can lead to low testosterone (no one wants it). which an increase in cortisol (which no one wants); It has a negative impact on performance (no one wants it).
When we build muscle, we usually think of protein. However, research shows that reducing carbohydrates can affect muscle mass even if the protein remains the same. This means that even if you eat a protein shake or steak 5 times a day, if you don't get enough carbohydrates, you may lose muscle.
A recent study from the Netherlands compared three diets.
a high-carbohydrate diet (85% carbohydrates);
A moderate carbohydrate diet (44% carbohydrates); And the
Low carb diet (2% carbs).
All diets contain the same total calories and the same amount of protein (15%). (Yes, a little low, but more or less adequate.)
The result? For starters, entirely consistent with other research.
T3 levels and inverted T3 levels remained the same with high and moderate carbohydrate intake.
T3 and reverse T3 levels decreased with the low-carb diet.
But here's the interesting wrinkle. In this study, researchers also measured urinary nitrogen excretion to see how diet affects protein breakdown.
In this case, the low-carb diet, with extremely low carbs, lowered insulin levels, leading to increased muscle breakdown.
Again, it can be assumed that protein intake determines muscle breakdown. You might assume that high insulin intake is always "bad" from what you've heard.
In fact, insulin is essential for building muscle. Eating enough carbohydrates as needed replenishes muscle glycogen and creates an anabolic (developmental) hormonal environment. You become stronger and empowered. All right.
Conversely, not eating enough carbohydrates depletes muscle glycogen and creates a catabolic (breakdown) hormonal environment. This means more protein breakdown and less protein synthesis. This means slower muscle growth or even muscle loss.
The bottom line
Low Carb Diet might work for short term as it reduces water from your body. But for long term the research is not very favorable for low carb diet. The only thing that matters for fat loss is being in caloric deficit. It is recommended to consume moderate amount of carbs like whole grains, fruits, and juices
Eating too few carbs can lower T3 levels, alter the cortisol-testosterone ratio, upset a woman's delicate hormonal balance, contribute to muscle breakdown, and prevent muscle gain.