Hell NO! That was easy, blog finished.
Well I say hell no, however, if you re-phrase the question to, should I follow a ‘low carb’ diet then my answer would have to be….it depends.
Now before you slam this blog closed in protest of my seemingly ‘on the fence’ answer just read why! It actually depends on YOU, your favourite foods, your daily calorie goal, your culture and what you believe a ‘carb’ to be. Allow me to elaborate.
Bread is not the only carb source
There seems to be a misconception when it comes to what constitutes a carbohydrate. The obvious foods that will most probably spring to mind are bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. yes? Well if I told you there are three macro nutrients that all foods fall under; protein, fats and carbohydrates then you would say a potato (a vegetable) is a carbohydrate? So, what are carrots, parsnips, kale and sprouts (also all vegetables)? I will give you a hint, they are CARBS! Not complete carbohydrates I’ll admit but then again what is. A lot of foods are predominantly made up of two or all three macro nutrients with one being more present. Think steak, it is a protein source, but it also has fat in it.
Some fruit and vegetables have more carbohydrates than others and if you are following or thinking about following a low carb plan (for whatever reason) it is handy to know your choices, let me also add that 1g of carbohydrates has 4 calories, more carbs equals more calories. Below are three images showing the amount of carbohydrates per 100 grams (give or take a gram)
Taking this information into account no dietician in the world would say you should eliminate ALL carbohydrates from your diet as you would obviously become malnourished from the lack of vegetables and fruit, yes, they too are predominantly carbohydrates. That quite quickly answers the initial question, should you ditch carbs completely……hell NO!
My Friend lost 2 kilogrammes in a week!
OK so your friend Beverly in the office has said she has gone on the (INSERT LOW CARB DIET HERE), she has lost 2 kilos in a week and you want to give it a try, unfortunately she eats nothing but salad and boiled chicken breast, tasty. If this diet sounds like something you just couldn’t stick to, if having a jacket potato, or maybe some rice, a little sauce or marinade on your chicken breast sounds yummy and would allow you to ENJOY your food then why not! Everything can be enjoyed as long as what you eat does not exceed your daily energy expenditure (daily calorie goal). Side note, if you do not know your daily calorie goal for weight loss I highly advocate getting in touch with your local Life Leisure and consider our Weight Loss Winners course.
Let’s address ‘our Bev’s’ rapid weight loss. Any activity, you do, your body will use glycogen (carbohydrates stored as glucose) in the energy pathway (so long as it is present), for every 1g of glycogen we store in our muscles and liver we hold on to around 2-3g of water. That means if we trained hard and “used” 300g of stored glycogen, your body would also shed 600-900g of water, if you did not replenish these stores, the weight loss on the scales would look quite good, in the short term. However, our bodies are very clever and would not allow this to happen for a long time, eventually weight loss will slow down (but not stop) as your body switches into a state of ketosis, where your body primarily utilises fat as its energy source. I will expand on ketosis in a later blog.
Another reason for B-dog’s weight loss could be the amount of food she is eating, 20g of carbs (around 80 calories) looks completely different depending on TYPE of carb:
She may have found she is eating A LOT more food and is losing weight. The image on the right is around the same calorie content as the image on the left. Spread over a few meals in a day it may provide a more filling side dish to your meal. More filling = eat less calories. Eat less calories = weight loss.
It all falls to preference; do you enjoy carbs? Do you prefer a diet that contains carbs? If the answer is yes, then eat them but ensure your daily calorie goal does not exceed past maintenance.
Stick to your daily calorie goal and you WILL lose weight, if you enjoy high carbohydrate foods such as whole-wheat pasta, have it. If you enjoy low carbohydrate foods such as lettuce and avocado have them. It is all about balance and staying under your daily calorie goal. Would a low carb diet help you lose weight, yes it would! But, so would a moderate carb diet. Don’t over think it, enjoy your food, enjoy your life, get outside, run, walk, be active. Just make sure you stick to and track your daily calorie goal and you WILL achieve your weight loss goal.
Have a read of my previous blog for more information regarding calories and another (very important) macro nutrient, protein.