Low Carb High Carb

Plain Nachos

Low Carb High Carb

First, carbohydrates were said to be the food of choice for high energy and athletic performance. Then we were taught to eat low carb. Because carbohydrates are bad and will make us fat. Lo and behold, low carbohydrate dieting went mainstream and a sort of  diet battle began. For everyone who says eating a low carbohydrate diet is the ultimate diet, there is another person with the opposite opinion.

Comforting Carbohydrates

Who is right? Low Carb Lovers of High Carb Lovers?

Well, the answer to that is somewhere in the middle. In fact, it could even be said that both sides are right! At certain times and for certain purposes, a low carb diet can accelerate fat loss. The trick to utilizing this diet to its potential is in mastering the nutritional fundamentals of all dieting.

Nutritional Fundamentals Whether Low Carb or High Carb

Low carb high carb?
Low carb high carb?
  • Eat fewer calories than you burn.
  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals daily.
  • Eat a lean protein with each meal.
  • Eat healthy carbohydrate foods.
  • Eat low fat foods.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat natural, unrefined foods.

If you can master those basics, you will be far more successful if you decide to venture into low carb dieting. The truth is that carbohydrates are not fattening. But another truth is that most people don’t need low carbohydrate diets to get lean. A low carb diet is not healthy for permanent weight maintenance. It should only be utilized as a temporary tool.

Breaking a Plateau

It’s common for dieters to get great results for weeks or even months, then just stop losing body fat completely. That’s because calorie restricted diets eventually have a negative effect on the metabolism. The more severe you diet and the longer you diet, the greater the metabolic downgrade. This leads to the dreaded diet plateau. If you’re stuck at a plateau, restricting carbohydrates can help break the plateau.

Did You Know?

Almost all bodybuilders and fitness competitors use a low carbohydrate diet at some point in their training. Reducing carbohydrates gives them metabolic and hormonal advantages that allow them to get leaner faster. A decrease in carbohydrate intake, with an increase in protein intake, can give you some very powerful advantages in fat loss.

Benefits of Cutting Carbohydrates

  • Insulin control. When you reduce carbohydrates, you reduce insulin output. Moderating insulin can be an effective strategy for losing fat.
  • Decreases water retention.
  • Decreased glycogen, which forces your body to use more fat for fuel.

Drawbacks of Cutting Carbohydrates

  • Difficult to stick with.
  • Re-gaining fat is almost inevitable.
  • Can be unbalanced and lacking in essential nutrients, causing energy levels to drop after time.
  • Much of the weight you lose on a low carbohydrate diet is muscle and water.
  • Causes “brain fog”. Your brain and central nervous system function almost exclusively on glucose. When you deprive yourself of carbohydrates for a prolonged period of time, you will often become tired, weak, moody and irritable.

Success Secrets for Low Carb Dieting

  • Carbohydrate tapering.
  • Carbohydrate cycling.

Carbohydrate Tapering

A simple way to accelerate fat loss is to reduce the size of your late day meals. This technique is known as “tapering”. Cut out the starches in your late afternoon and evening meals, leaving the green fibrous carbohydrates, lean proteins and essential fats. This is an incredibly simple and easy technique to use.

Carbohydrate Cycling Concept

Carbohydrate cycling is probably the most powerful fat burning strategy known. The concept is actually quite simple: Drop your carbohydrates for a few days, then increase them again before your body figures out what is going on! Anyone can use this technique to accelerate fat loss or break a weight loss plateau. The suggested time allotment is three days. After three days of low carb dieting, your glycogen levels will be almost completely depleted. Your metabolic rate begins to slow down and your thyroid gland decreases its output of the thyroid hormone. Basically, your diet would become less and less effective the longer you stayed on low carbohydrates beyond the three day period.

You see, the human body will make changes in physiology and metabolism to compensate for a prolonged lack of carbohydrates, which it interprets as starvation. That’s why you have to keep your body off guard with a high carbohydrate day every fourth day.

Carbohydrate cycling psychologically makes your entire diet easier to stick to because no matter how difficult it is to get through those three low days, you know your “high day” is coming soon. Eating those yummy carbs after three days without them is like getting a literal “high”! The “high day” also bypasses all the detrimental side effects. A little bit of experimentation will be necessary to discover what amount of carbohydrate works best for your high and low days.

Staying on a low carbohydrate all the time will cause your body to become inefficient at burning carbohydrates. When you begin eating them again, your body simply doesn’t know what to do with them. So do think twice about long-term carbohydrate restriction. Low carbohydrate diets are not a good idea for “lifestyle” programs, but when utilized correctly, can be a tremendous aid to fat and weight loss.

See also: Low Carb Recipes

Author: Jeni

Certified by the Professional School of Fitness and Nutrition in March, 1995; honored for exemplary grades. Practicing fitness and nutrition for over 20 years. Featured in the Feb. 1994 issue of "Shape" magazine. Featured in Collage in the spring issue of 1995 Low fat recipe's published in Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others. September, 2001: Featured in "Winning The War on Cholesterol" By Rodale Publishing