A Quick Few Words on Low Carb Diets

There's a lot of negative talk about low carb diets and because of this many people think low carb diets are bad. I just wanted to briefly explain why that's wrong.

Low carb advocates make all kinds of claims regarding how low carb diets are superior to low fat ones. They claim they result in more fat loss, that calories don't matter as long as carbs are restricted, that higher levels of insulin is what causes fat gain, among many other false claims.

People in the "research based" niche are constantly correcting these claims, so people have kind of ostracized low carb diets as ineffectual. However, just because the claims low carbers often make aren't true doesn't mean low carb diets don't have a place.

Low carb diets are usually most effective for those with a lot of weight to lose. These people are often sedentary, and likely insulin resistant. There are some that are leaner and more active that do best on low carbs too, but it's more rare. Those who are lifting heavy or doing other high intensity exercise methods usually suffer performance decreases due to the glycogen needed for high intensity efforts, however some are ok with that or don't see much of a decrease. In the end, dietary adherence is the biggest factor in weight loss/gain so if someone adheres significantly better to low carbs than higher carbs it is usually going to be the best method.

An oft-overlooked factor is the hyperpalatable things that contain carbs. Not too many people overeat significantly on low fat high carb foods. For example, it's not often the bread that people eat that contains a lot of calories, it's the combination of the bread with the butter or oil that's put on it. When people binge on french fries it's not the calories from the potatoes that hurts most, it's the calories from the oil they're fried in and the fat in the sauces they may use to dip them in. By restricting carbs we end up restricting a lot of these hyperpalatable foods that are very high in fat and easy to overeat on. Fast food, cake, pastries, cookies, ice cream, chips and other munchies, pizza, most take-out for that matter. By restricting the carbs we indirectly restrict the fat intake that comes with these things, and we avoid a lot of the things that are very easy to overeat on. It's not the restriction of carbs that works, it's the restriction of calories that results from it.

That doesn't mean that there aren't low fat high carb things that cause issues though. I love the idea of sitting down and eating a whole box of fruity pebbles, and with skim milk the fat content is negligible, but it'd still be well over 1000 calories. Carbs can be an issue without fat, but it still comes down to calories. That can also go for high fat low carb things, and people can still overeat without carbs easily. One of the main things that hurts me when I go off diet is mayo. I love it and use way too much of it on sandwiches, subs, and burgers, which are three of my favorite things. If I thought I could eat as much bacon and mayo as I wanted while dieting I'd probably get much fatter.

So in the end it depends on the person, and what will work for them. Low carbs could work very well for you, and you shouldn't let the negative talk about them stop you from trying them if you have reason to think it'd work.

If you need help determining what diet could be best for you, or just need help setting one up and following one, fill out this form or email jason@ebpcoaching.com and we will get back with you as soon as we can!

-Jason