Top 15 Reasons to Avoid Low Carb Diets

Low carb (carbohydrate), high protein diets are the latest


dieting craze. However, before you jump on the band wagon,


you may want to consider a few things:


1. Low carb (ketogenic) diets deplete the healthy glycogen


(the storage form of glucose) stores in your muscles and


liver. When you deplete glycogen stores, you also dehydrate,


often causing the scale to drop significantly in the first week


or two of the diet. This is usually interpreted as fat loss when


it’s actually mostly from dehydration and muscle loss. By the


way, this is one of the reasons that low carb diets are so


popular at the moment – there is a quick initial, but deceptive


drop in scale weight.


Glycogenesis (formation of glycogen) occurs in the liver and


muscles when adequate quantities of carbohydrates are


consumed – very little of this happens on a low carb diet.


Glycogenolysis (breakdown of glycogen) occurs when


glycogen is broken down to form glucose for use as fuel.


2. Depletion of muscle glycogen causes you to fatigue easily,


and makes exercise and movement uncomfortable. Research


indicates that muscle fatigue increases in almost direct


proportion to the rate of depletion of muscle glycogen. Bottom


line is that you don’t feel energetic and you exercise and move


less (often without realizing it) which is not good for caloric


expenditure and basal metabolic rate (metabolism).


3. Depletion of muscle glycogen leads to muscle atrophy (loss


of muscle). This happens because muscle glycogen (broken


down to glucose) is the fuel of choice for the muscle during


movement. There is always a fuel mix, but without muscle


glycogen, the muscle fibers that contract, even at rest to


maintain muscle tone, contract less when glycogen is not


immediately available in the muscle. Depletion of muscle


glycogen also causes you to exercise and move less than


normal which leads to muscle loss and the inability to


maintain adequate muscle tone.


Also, in the absence of adequate carbohydrate for fuel,


the body initially uses protein (muscle) and fat. the initial


phase of muscle depletion is rapid, caused by the use of


easily accessed muscle protein for direct metabolism


or for conversion to glucose (gluconeogenesis) for fuel. Eating


excess protein does not prevent this because there is a caloric


deficit.


When insulin levels are chronically too low as they may


be in very low carb diets, catabolism (breakdown) of


muscle protein increases, and protein synthesis stops.


4. Loss of muscle causes a decrease in your basal metabolic


rate (metabolism). Metabolism happens in the muscle. Less


muscle and muscle tone means a slower metabolism which


means fewer calories burned 24 hours-a-day.


5. Your muscles and skin lack tone and are saggy. Saggy


muscles don’t look good, cause saggy skin, and cause you to


lose a healthy, vibrant look (even if you’ve also lost fat).


6. Some proponents of low carb diets recommend avoiding


carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, carrots, etc.


because of they are high on the glycemic index – causing


a sharp rise in insulin. Certain carbohydrates have always


been, and will always be the bad guys: candy, cookies, baked


goods with added sugar, sugared drinks, processed / refined


white breads, pastas, and rice, and any foods with added sugar.


These are not good for health or weight loss.


However, carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, legumes,


whole grain breads and pastas, and brown rice are good for


health and weight loss. Just like with proteins and fats, these


carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation. Large volumes


of any proteins, fats or carbohydrates are not conducive to


weight loss and health.


The effect of high glycemic foods is often exaggerated. It’s does


matter, but to a smaller degree than is often portrayed. Also,


the total glycemic effect of foods is influenced by the quantity


of that food that you eat at a sitting. Smaller meals have a lower


overall glycemic effect. Also, we usually eat several types of


food at the same time, thereby reducing the average glycemic


index of the meal, if higher glycemic foods are eaten.


Also, glycemic index values can be misleading because they


are based on a standard 50 grams of carbohydrate consumed.


It wouldn’t take much candy bar to get that, but it would take


four cups of carrots. Do you usually eat four cups of carrots


at a meal?


Regular exercisers and active people also are less effected by


higher glycemic foods because much of the carbohydrate


comsumed is immediately used to replenish glycogen stores in


the liver and muscle.


By the way, if you’re interested in lowering insulin levels,


there is a great way to do that – exercise and activity.


7. Much of the weight loss on a low carb, high protein diet,


especially in the first few weeks, is actually because of


dehydration and muscle loss.


8. The percentage of people that re-gain the weight they’ve


lost with most methods of weight loss is high, but it’s even


higher with low carb, high protein diets. This is primarily due


to three factors:


A. You have lost muscle. With that comes a slower


metabolism which means fewer calories are burned 24


hours-a-day. A loss of muscle during the process of losing


weight is almost a guarantee for re-gaining the lost weight,


and more.


B. You re-gain the healthy fluid lost because of glycogen


depletion.


C. It’s difficult to maintain that type of diet long-term.


D. You have not made a change to a long-term healthy


lifestyle.


9. Eating too much fat is just not healthy. I know you’ve


heard of people whose blood levels of cholesterol and


triglycerides have decreased while on a low carb, high


protein diet. This often happens with weight loss, but it


doesn’t continue when you’re on a diet high in fat.


There are literally reams of research over decades that clearly


indicates that an increase in consumption of animal products


and/or saturated fat leads to increased incidence of heart


disease, strokes, gall stones, kidney stones, arthritic


symptoms, certain cancers, etc. For example, in comparing


countries with varying levels of meat consumption, there


is a direct relationship between the volume of meat consumption


in a country and the incidence of digestive cancers (stomach,


intestines, rectal, etc.).


Fat is certainly necessary, and desirable in your diet, but


they should be mostly healthy fats and in moderation.


Manufactured / synthetic “low fat” foods with lots of added


sugar are not the answer. Neither are manufactured / synthetic


“low carb” foods with artificial sweeteners or added fat. By


the way, use of artificial sweeteners has never been shown


to aid in weight loss and they may pose health problems.


According to Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob of Albert Einstein


College of Medicine in New York, “In my experience,


unless you’re willing to throw out decades of research,


you cannot ignore that diets chronically high in saturated


fats are linked to heart disease,” Dr. Ayoob is also a


spokesman for the American Dietetic Association


and says that low carb, high protein diets are an attempt


at a quick fix and not a long-term lifestyle change.


10. As someone recently told me, “it must work – people


are losing weight”. People that are truly losing fat on


low carb, high protein diets, are doing so because they


are eating fewer calories – that’s the bottom line. There


is no magic – the same can be done on a healthy diet.


11. Low carb diets are lacking in fiber. Every plant-based


food has some fiber. All animal products have no fiber. A


lack of fiber increases your risk for cancers of the digestive


track (because transit time is lengthened) and cardiovascular


disease (because of fibers effect on fat and cholesterol). It


also puts you at a higher risk for constipation and other bowel


disorders.


12. Low carb diets lack sufficient quantities of the the many


nutrients / phytonutrients / antioxidants found in fruits,


vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, necessary for health


and aiding in prevention of cancer and heart disease. In fact,


you need these nutrients even more so when you’re consuming


too much fat as is often the case on a low carb high protein diet.


13. Amercans already consume more than twice the amount


of protein needed. Add to that a high protein diet and you


have far too much protein consumption. By the way, most people


don’t realize that all fruits, all vegetables, all whole grains,


and all legumes also contain protein. Animal products contain


larger quantities of protein, but that may not be a good thing.


Excess dietary protein puts you at a higher risk for many health


problems: gout (painful joints from high purine foods which are


usually high protein foods), kidney disease, kidney stones,


osteoporosis (excess dietary protein causes leeching of calcium


from the bones). By the way, countries with lower, healthier


intakes of protein also have a decreased incidence of


osteoporosis.


14. Low carb, high protein diets cause an unhealthy


physiological state called ketosis, a type of metabolic acidosis.


You may have heard the phrase, “fat burns in the flame of


carbohydrate”. Excess acetyl CoA cannot enter the Krebs


Cycle (you remember the old Krebs Cycle) due to insufficient


OAA. In other words, for fat to burn efficiently and without


production of excess toxic ketones, sufficient carbohydrate


must be available. Ketosis can lead to many health problems


and can be very serious at it’s extreme.


15. Bad breath. Often called “keto breath” or “acetone


breath”, it’s caused by production of acetones in a state of


ketosis.


So why the low carb, high protein craze? I believe there are


several reasons.


A. Weight loss (mostly muscle and muscle fluid) is often


rapid during the first few weeks. This causes people to think


they’re losing fat rapidly.


B. It gives you “permission” to eat the “bad foods”: bacon,


eggs, burgers, steak, cheese, etc., and lots of fat.


C. Many see it as the new “magic” they’ve been looking for,


although it’s been around, in various forms, since the


1960’s.


The good news is that there is a very healthy way to lose


weight, feel energetic, and to greatly increase your chances


of keeping it off. But that’s another article.


References:


– Brooks, G, Fahey, T: Exercise Physiology – Human Bioenergetics


and its Applications. John Wiley and Sons, 1984.


– Cheatham, B, Kahn, CR: Insulin Action and Insulin Signaling


Network. Endocrine Review 16:117, 1995


– Fain, JN: Insulin Secretion and Action. Metabolism 33:672, 1984.


– Fitts, RH: Cellular Mechanisms of Muscle Fatigue. Physiological


Review 74:49, 1994


– Griffin, James, Ojeda, Sergio: Textbook of Endocrine


Physiology. Oxford University Press, 2000


– Guyton, A, Hall, J: Textbook of Medical Physiology. W.B.


Saunders Company, 2000.


– Herzog, W: Muscle Function in Movement and Sports. American


Journal of Sports Medicine 24:S14, 1996


– Hoffman, JF, Jamieson, JD: Handbook of Physiology: Cell


Physiology. Bethesda: American Physiological Society, 1997


– Kimball, SR, Vary, TC, Jefferson, LS: Regulation of Protein


Synthesis by Insulin. Annual Review Physiology 56:321, 1994.


– McArdle, William, Katch, Frank, Katch, Victor: Exercise


Physiology – Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance.


Lea and Febiger, 1981.


– Mcdougall, MD, John: The Mcdougall Plan. New Century


Publishers, 1983.


– Simopoulos, AP, Pavlou, KN: Nutrition and Fitness. Basel:


Karger, 1997


copyright 2004 by Greg Landry, M.S.

Author and exercise physiologist, Greg Landry,


offers free weight loss and fitness success stories


and targeted, highly affective weight loss programs


for women, men, type 2 diabetics, and people with


slow metabolisms and hypothyroidism..


http://www.Landry.com

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