People like to debate the mechanism, the stuff that is actually going on in our organs and cells that makes the weight go off.
In this article, I take look at some of the most convincing explanations for the effectiveness of low carb diets.
One of the functions of insulin is to tell fat cells to produce and store fat, and to hold on to the fat that they already carry. However, I'd like to point out that many respected obesity researchers do not believe this to be true, and do not think the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis of obesity is supported by the evidence. Glycogen: The body stores carbs in the form of glycogen, which binds water in the muscles and liver. Even though some people use this as an argument against low-carb diets, reduced water weight should be considered an advantage. So, part of the weight loss advantage of low-carb diets is explained by reductions in water weight, but there is still a major fat loss advantage as well. Bottom Line: When people go low-carb, they lose significant amounts of excess water from their bodies. In most studies where low carb and low fat diets are compared, the low carb groups end up eating much more protein.
This is because people replace many low-protein foods (grains, sugars) with higher protein foods like meat, fish and eggs. Many nutrition experts believe that the high protein content of low-carb diets is the main reason for their effectiveness.
Although this is controversial, many experts do believe that low carb diets have a metabolic advantage. In other words, that low carb diets increase your energy expenditure, and that people lose more weight than can be explained by reduced calorie intake alone.
A study conducted in 2012 found that a very low carb diet increased energy expenditure compared to a low fat diet, during a period of weight maintenance (21). However, another study has suggested that it may be the high protein (but not low carb) part of the diet that causes the increase in calories burned (22). On a very low carb, ketogenic diet, when carb intake is kept extremely low, a lot of protein is being transformed into glucose in the beginning, a process called gluconeogenesis (23). Bottom Line: Low-carb diets appear to have a metabolic advantage, but most of it is caused by the increased protein intake. Bottom Line: Low carb diets exclude many foods that are highly rewarding and extremely fattening. Probably the single biggest explanation for the weight loss effects of low carb diets, is their powerful effects on appetite. It is well established that when people go low carb, their appetite goes down and they start eating fewer calories automatically (27). The increased protein intake is a major factor, but there is also evidence that ketosis can have a powerful effect (29).
There is also some evidence that low carb diets can have beneficial effects on appetite regulating hormones like leptin and ghrelin (30). Bottom Line: Low carb diets lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake, so that people eat fewer calories without having to think about it.
Even though low carb diets are very effective in the short-term, the long-term results are not that great. Most studies that last for 1-2 years show that the difference between the low-carb and low-fat groups mostly disappears.


This is not specific to low carb diets, and is a well known problem in most long-term weight loss studies. Some people refuse to accept that low carb diets can work, and that people can eat as much as they want, because that must violate the calories in, calories out model.
They boost your metabolism (increasing calories out) and lower your appetite (reducing calories in), leading to automatic calorie restriction. Calories still count, it's just that low carb diets automate the process and help prevent the biggest side effect of conscious calorie restriction, which is hunger. These days many so-called health experts are touting low carb diets as the ultimate solution to weight loss, the same way they touted low fat diets not so long ago.
Getting enough carbs in your diet is essential to high performance when you’re exercising. Over time the body becomes carb depleted and is forced to burn through other sources of energy, such as fat. Healthy carbohydrates are actually contained in many vegetables, fruit and other healthy foods, including whole grains. Like low fat foods, low carb foods typically use unhealthy substances like corn syrup or sugar to add the flavour taken out when the carbs are removed.
A low carb diet may sound like a great idea, but a balanced diet is the best sustainable way to lose weight and become healthier in the long-run. As a rule, Americans tend to eat about twice as many carbohydrates as they are able to use up.
When you restrict your carbs, your protein and fat intake need to increase to make up for the fewer calories. It also tells other cells in the body to pick up glucose (blood sugar) from the bloodstream, and burn that instead of fat. High insulin levels contribute to fat storage, and low insulin levels facilitate fat burning. When carb intake goes down, glycogen levels in the body go down, and the water follows along.This does not happen to nearly the same extent on a higher carb diet, even if calories are reduced significantly. Anyway, despite claims to the contrary, this is far from being the main weight loss advantage of low-carb diets.
Numerous studies show that protein can reduce appetite, boost metabolism, and help increase muscle mass, which is metabolically active and burns calories around the clock (17, 18, 19, 20). That being said, there are other mechanisms that may cause an additional metabolic advantage. This is an inefficient process, and can lead to hundreds of calories being "wasted."However, this is mostly temporary as ketones should start replacing some of that glucose as brain fuel within a few days (24). In the beginning of a very low carb, ketogenic diet, some calories are wasted when glucose is produced.
There is also an obvious reduction in variety when you eliminate most high-carb foods, especially given that wheat, corn and sugar are in almost all processed foods.
In fact, studies that compare low carb and low fat diets usually restrict calories in the low-fat groups, while the low-carb groups are allowed to eat until fullness (28). Many people who go on a ketogenic diet feel that they only need to eat 1 or 2 meals per day.
There are many possible explanations for this, but the most plausible one is that people tend to abandon the diet over time, and start gaining the weight back.
However, when you understand the mechanisms behind low carb diets, you can see that the CICO model is not being violated, and the laws of thermodynamics still hold.


And just as science has proven that many fats are actually healthy and some fat is essential to the diet, we know that many carbohydrates are actually healthy for you. The initial weight you lose when you start a low carb diet is largely water weight lost through glycogen and sometimes lean muscle tissue. Most cells can use fats, proteins or carbs to produce energy but some rely specifically on carbs to function. Replacing carbs with red meats or other foods high in saturated fats(we’re looking at you, egg yolks) can actually be far worse for you than sticking to a high carb diet. Restricting carbs too much can make it difficult to even get to the gym, let alone successfully complete a workout. This sounds like a good thing—after all, fat loss is the primary goal for most people—but this kind of diet can lead to overly high creation of ketones. Bad carbs, much like bad fats, can wreak havoc on your body, putting you on an energy rollercoaster.
They are also called complex carbohydrates because they contain lots of nutrients and often include high amounts of fiber, a special type of carbohydrate that aids the digestive system.
It all started with the Atkins Diet way back and over the years variations on this kind of diet have become popular. Instead, they will look at the glycemic index and glycemic load of carbohydrates to help you develop your eating plan.
While there are a whole range of plans that promote all kinds of workouts just be wary of any plan that doesn’t encourage some kind of physical activity.
In fact, the studies show that these diets cause major improvements in many important risk factors (3). A high percentage of the fat lost on a low carb diet comes from the belly area and the liver. Once your body adjusts to the diet, you’ll soon find yourself gaining weight again, often even more than you started out with. Carbohydrates provide instant energy and protein gives you the steady stream of energy you need to keep your willpower high and stay out of the candy aisle. The best way to get healthy is by eating more foods that are inherently healthy, not foods you have to take the bad stuff out of to enjoy. With millions of dieters achieving success, it is true that there are low carb diets that work. But we can’t live without carbohydrates completely since they are our main source of fuel.
There are several popular low carb diets that work and you should investigate them thoroughly before choosing the one that seems right for you. This is the dangerous visceral fat that builds up in and around the organs, driving inflammation and disease (8, 9, 10).
It is actually well established that low-carb diets lead to drastic and almost immediate reductions in insulin levels (12, 13).



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