Low-Carb Diets

After learning more about carbohydrates, do you agree with using a low carb diet as a means for weight loss? Why or why not? Include relevant research to support your answer.

 

After learning more about carbohydrates I still believe that using a low-carb diet as a means for weight loss can be a good idea.  It can also be beneficial as a way to control early problems with diabetes type 2 that many people don’t realize can be diet controlled through proper nutrition and nutrient timing. (Volek & Westman, 2002) analyzed a collection of studies talking about some of the benefits of a low-carbohydrate data from the study collection including: body fat loss, appetite suppression,

Negatives that can result from too low of a carbohydrate diet can include: decreased metabolic rate and efficiency through diet deficient in nutrients that can lead to issues such as immunosuppression and adrenal fatigue.  Therefore it is important to remember that a diet has to be sustainable to maintain performance in and out of sport.

A major aspect to consider includes the quality of foods and carbohydrates; some carbohydrates have a lower glycemic index, lower sugar content, and easier on digestion (Ormsbee, Bach, & Baur, 2014, p. 1787-1788).  The quality of food also applies to fats and proteins, which we we discuss in upcoming weeks through class discussions.  Finally, obesity is “Obesity is multifactorial; its causes include both excess energy intake and inadequate energy expenditure” (Volek & Westman, 2002, p. 857).  Exercise can contribute to more energy expenditure and increase metabolic rate, as can proper diet.   Proper nutrition, like a low-carbohydrate balanced with good fats, proteins, and nutrient dense carbohydrate sources can lead to proper weight loss.  It is still important to remember that a lot more goes into a proper diet than just one aspect like low-carbohydrate intake.

As a side discussion board note I really enjoyed our (McGuire & Beerman, 2013) carbohydrate chapter and the focus on reducing added sugars and gives excellent tips at the end of the chapter in “Working Toward the Goal: Focus on Reducing Added Sugars” (p. 144).  I personally try to avoid added sugars and processed grains.  The only grains I have are fermented to make them easier to digest and I pay very close attention to added sugars utilizing stevia and honey in small doses as needed.  I personally eat relatively low carb, but don’t scold the “traditional athlete” that fuels with carbohydrates if they understand how important carbohydrate timing is in the process.

 

From personal experience I think that low carbohydrate diets can and do work for weight loss.  I have even experimented with a ketogenic diet for performance as an endurance athlete.  In order to burn body fat it makes sense to utilize fat as an energy source.  I found I can burn fat for energy on a daily basis utilizing a daily intermittent fast giving my body time to fully digest and utilize the nutrients from the previous 12 to 16 hours.  I feel a sense of mental clarity during my fasts utilizing MCT oil during the fast and of course natural fat stores that everyone has.  I feel this enhances my work because I don’t get the typical “rebound hypoglycemia” that some people get after breakfast and the MCT oil is easily utilized as a source of energy for the brain (Jeukendrup & Killer, 2010).   However on a strict fat-burning diet, I was unable to thrive on only a fat-burning diet which resulted in muscle wasting and adrenal fatigue from what I believe was not getting enough nutrients from other sources.  I have since added back in a few more good carbohydrate sources; like small doses of fermented grains, fruits, and a few starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.  I believe that a very low carbohydrate diet can help the everyday person lose weight, a moderately low carbohydrate diet can enhance performance in athletes by teaching the body to burn fat as energy; but needs to be individualized because of the dangers of going too far.  As a metaphor, we talked about how alcohol and dark chocolate in moderation are good, but not too much.  I personally believe a low carbohydrate diet is good, with proper carbohydrate choices; however going too far or too low-carbohydrate is potentially dangerous.

 

References:

McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2013) Nutritional sciences: From fundamentals to food. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ormsbee, M.J., Bach, C.W., & Baur, D.A. Pre-exercise nutrition: The role of macronutrients, modified starches and supplements on metabolism and endurance performance. Nutrients 6(5), 1782-1808. doi:10.3390/nu6051782

Volek, J. & Westman., E.C. (2002). Very-low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets revisited. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 69(11), 849-862.  doi:10.3949/ccjm.69.11.849

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