I’m a research kinda guy, and a quick Google search for studies supporting low-carb diets as a method for losing weight brings up an absolute tonne – a veritable smorgasbord of evidence backing low-carb plans – it’s every Atkins follower’s wet dream. Compared with the low fat group, who followed a diet conforming to currently recommended distributions of macronutrient calories, the very low carbohydrate group lost significantly more weight.
These are just a selection of quotes from study findings that found low-carb eating to be an effective method of losing weight and improving body composition. Taubes had his article “What if it’s All Been a Big Fat Lie” published in the New York Times, and suddenly, the world went low-carb crazy. We could eat anything we wanted and get slimmer, provided we kept our carb intake ultra low. I’ve talked about this numerous times before, but low-carb sells for one main reason – it’s extreme. The second reason why low-carb diets sell is because of the initial rapid weight loss you experience.
Proponents of the low-carb approach like to preach about the metabolic benefits their diet supposedly offers. In his NY Times article, along with the books and articles he’s published since, Taubes claims that we can eat virtually whatever we like and not get fat, provided we avoid carbs. Carbohydrates have the biggest insulinogenic effect of all the macronutrients, therefore, low-carbers deduced that by lowering carb intake, we lower insulin levels, and therefore create a metabolically advantageous environment, burn more fat and lose more weight.
FALSE – In otherwise healthy individuals, insulin only spikes after a meal – it does not stay elevated for hours on end. Even someone eating small to moderate portions can easily put away 200 grams plus of carbs in a day. Compare that to the typical Western diet discussed before, and not only is there a big drop in carbs, but also a high rise in protein.
By dropping carbs, people don’t just lower their carb intake, they look for other foods to replace carb-dense items with. As you can see, while low-carb diets may have their benefits, it’s not actually the reduction of carbohydrates that leads directly to weight loss. Before getting into the physiological reasons against low-carb diets, let’s see why they suck from a psychological standpoint.
Most cereal dieters (yes, pun number 2!) have experimented with low-carb diets at some point. It refers to the period of time it takes your body to adapt to using fat as its main energy source instead of carbs. While it’s certainly doable to stick to low-carb fare all the time, it can be an annoyance and cause you to have to do far more planning than you would otherwise.
The energy pathway required for explosive muscular contractions is the ATP-PC system, which relies on ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) breaking down to form ADP (adenosine di-phosphate.) This can only be sustained for a short time however (usually around 8-10 seconds) so after this, a second energy system has to come into play.
The trouble with low-carb diets here, is that the glycolytic system (and to a degree, the ATP-PC system too) relies on a ready supply of glucose and glycogen – ie. Sure, for marathon runners, iron man triathletes and the steady Sunday morning dog walkers, fats might be a fine fuel source for sustained, low-intensity exercise, but for anyone concerned with strength, power and performance, carbs play a critical role. In low-carb diets, it appears that production of T3 drops, along with your levels of other thyroid and metabolism hormones.
Protein itself is muscle sparing too, which is why you may actually increase your protein intake when decreasing calories for a cut or fat loss diet, but keeping carbs in will go a long way to preserving muscle mass. Most, though admittedly not all, low-carb diets, don’t give recommendations on protein and fat intake. Here’s the problem though – while a low-carb diet consisting of lean meats, fish, eggs whites, dark green vegetables and healthy fats like olives, oily fish and a little cheese may allow you to eat large amounts of food without much of a dent in your total calorie intake, this isn’t how many people do low-carb diets.


Snacks – 1 packet of deli-style beef, small low-fat low-sugar Greek yogurt with strawberries.
Both the above diets contain the same amount of protein, and the second is slightly lower in carbs, yet contains over 500 more calories.
Even the most ardent of low-carb advocates would struggle to argue that a difference of 500 calories per day wouldn’t have an effect on long-term dieting and physique progress. As, the existential question – what’s the precise number of carbohydrates you should eat per day.
Carb intake is a highly individual thing – the amount of carbs you eat per day depends on your goals, current weight and body composition, your activity levels, and to a certain degree your genetics and dieting history. Now, if you’re slightly confused, I am absolutely not saying that low-carb diets are bad, nor am I suggesting you don’t drop a single gram of carbohydrate from your diet when attempting to lose fat. Carbs have been made a scapegoat for rising obesity levels, when in actuality, a vast array of factors have all played a role in our getting fatter. It’s this calorie increase, not an unrivalled increase in carbohydrate consumption that needs to be addressed. In my next article I’ll address exactly how to tailor your carb intake to suit your goals, but for now, you can rest safe in the knowledge that that sandwich you had for your lunch isn’t going to suddenly materialise in the form of adipose tissue right around your stomach. Mainly because I have put on 2 stone of muscle in 10 months whilst keeping my body fat at a low enough level to maintain my ab definition.
A low carb high-fat diet puts your body into a state of Ketosis (where it burns fat stores for energy). My issue with keto diets is that you can still gain fat on one, plus carbs are a very effective macro for building muscle and recovery, hence why I’m not a fan for most people.
Its also worth noting peoples genetics when they get results with a certain diet, I have a high fast twitch muscle fibre count so building muscle with explosive lifting isn’t terribly hard.
Anyways, I would love to hear your reasoning behind the quote of labeling marathon runners as low intensity workers and how we do not need carbs and should rely more on fat. In terms of maximum effort, running is low-intensity, as you can sustain it for a loooong period of time. That meant breakfasts of eggs and bacon, a garden salad dripping with olive oil for lunch, steak cooked in butter for dinner, and snacks of beef jerky, pork scratchings and nuts. At the start of a low-carb diet, you may lose a good 7 or 8 pounds in the first couple of weeks. Any insulin release will acutely inhibit fat  burning, leading to the theory that we need to keep insulin levels as low as possible to sustain fat burning.
In fact, many of my clients follow what the vast majority of people would deem a “low-carb diet.” While I prefer to refer to these as individualised carb diets, or targeted carb diets, as I believe carbohydrate levels should be set according to the individual, there are several reasons why lowering your carbs can certainly bring about results.
Lunch is something in a sandwich, accompanied by a bag of crisps, perhaps with a piece or two of fruit and a chocolate bar or another carb-filled drink. Basically, it takes more energy and more calories for your body to break down and digest protein, leading to a lower net calorie intake from protein-dense meals.
Many studies that compare low carb to high carb diets don’t dictate any calorie intake to participants. I guess were we to leave the article here, you’d probably come away with a neutral to positive view of dropping carbohydrates. This is no myth that low-carb avoiders make up or embellish either – even the Atkins site recognises that the huge majority of people will experience feelings of tiredness, lethargy, fatigue and irritability when starting a low-carb plan. Eggs, bacon, veggies, Greek yoghurt for breakfast, and plenty of meat, fish, more vegetables, nuts, seeds and other pretty tasty low-carb treats every day.
This second energy system is the glycolytic system, which uses stored carbohydrate to create energy.


The theory being that by reducing carbs, the average person can eat a little more fat and protein, yet still be in a calorie deficit and lose fat while feeling full. Neither is particularly extreme in terms of either a lack of, or an abundance of foods, yet simply by “going low-carb” you can end up with wildly varying caloric intakes.
I’m merely saying that simply going low-carb is not the most effective, nor practical way to lose weight in the vast majority of cases. We do now eat more carbohydrates from grains, caloric sweeteners, fruits and vegetables than we did in 1970, but we also eat much more fat and oils, cheese, red meat, poultry and shellfish too.
Unfortunately however, many still have this idea in their head that carbs need to be slashed to lose weight, that they’re the sole cause of weight gain and an obesity epidemic, and that when cutting carbs you can eat all other foods ad infinitum and still make progress. By automatically adopting the low-carb approach, you’re setting yourself up for failure, misery and potentially screwing with your health and performance. The key being that you replenish the fat stores adequately throughout the day so the body doesn’t try to retain some for longer term energy. The anecdotal evidence is there, and it seems that science supports the notion that low-carb diets are great for weight loss too. We were told to limit our fat intake, and heaven forbid should we ever consume butter, red meat, or anything with saturated fat in it, may the lord strike us down with a cholesterol-induced fist of death. Because of the satiating effect of higher protein foods, this means low-carbers eat fewer calories overall, thus leading to weight loss.
However, before making your mind up, finish reading the article to see why low-carb diets could do you more harm than good. Friends start to question your food choices – why you’re not eating bread, why you’re not drinking — and can potentially feel irritated that you’re gradually becoming a social outcast because of your dietary restrictions. After this tapers off, your body switches to aerobic metabolism, which uses a mix of carbs and fats for fuel.
Low levels of carbs = low energy levels for higher intensity activities = crappy performance.
In essence, we seem to eat more of almost every food group now, leading to an average increase of around 500 calories per person per day from 40 years ago. Yes, we may run at a slower rate to run distance so we do not burn our energy too fast, but I would not label that as low intensity.
Just look at the popularity of Atkins, the cabbage soup diet, the baby food diet, raw eating, juice detoxes – the list goes on. As for snacks, we’re talking more fruit, low-fat snack bars, crackers and rice cakes for the health conscious, or sweets, biscuits and donuts for the not-so-healthy. The calorie content will be virtually the same as the two rice cakes earlier, but it’ll probably take double the amount of time for you to get hungry again.
And considering the supposed benefits of carb restriction are so grossly overstated, as discussed in previous sections, you have to question whether this drop in mood, libido and energy is even worth whatever miniscule benefit you might be hoping for.
My heart-rate is always in the higher range regardless of my running pace, and I have a resting HR at the low 50s.
A moderate or higher carb diet) your body has ample supplies of carbohydrate in the muscle cells and liver.
This stored carbohydrate (known as glycogen) not only adds weight itself, but each gram of stored carbohydrate carries with it around 3 to 4 grams of water.



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