Why a Low Carb Diet is your best option for weight loss by guest blogger Vicky Kuriel
We are so pleased to add to our guest blog series Vicky Kuriel who is the founder and managing director of Eat Play Thrive. Vicky brings a wealth of knowledge, she has a Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics along with qualification in sports nutrition. She is also a pilates instructor.
Why a Low Carb Diet is your best option for weight loss
Traditionally it has been touted that in order to lose weight we need to reduce the amount of calories we consume and increase the amount of calories we burn. The best way to do this is to reduce the macronutrient that provides the most amount of calories per gram, which is fat. For the past 50 years or so low fat diets have therefore been on trend for anyone attempting to reduce their waistline and improve their health.
The results - less than impressive!
During this period we have seen rates of obesity skyrocket and lifestyle diseases following a similar upward spiral. It appears that the theory (and yes it was just a theory, no evidence was available!) supporting a low fat, high carbohydrate diet in an attempt to reduce calories is possibly one of the biggest mistakes in nutritional history. Could the calorie in verse calorie out model perhaps be an over simplification of the human body and how we function? The answer – absolutely YES!
Let’s take a closer look…
Resting Metabolic Rate
When we reduce the amount of calories we consume, our bodies go into a natural defence mechanism and over time our resting metabolic rate decreases. Resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories we burn when we sit around and do nothing e.g. whilst we are sleeping. This is one of the reasons why weight loss stalls or plateaus after a few weeks and the only way to kick it off again is to decrease calories even further. In reality, we can only do this for a finite amount of time following which we usually throw in the towel (mainly because we are starving hungry) and return to eating what we did previously. The only problem is now we have a reduced resting metabolic rate which results in our weight not only returning to where it was when we began the calorie restricted diet but even a few kilos higher.
Thermic effect of food
The thermic effect of food is the calorie cost of digesting and processing different macronutrients in your diet. What studies have shown us is that when we eat protein we will require more calories to process and digest the protein as compared to carbohydrate and fat.
Different macronutrients behave differently in our bodies
For me this is the one that we should be focusing on the most. In particular the impact that different macronutrients have on the extremely important hormone, insulin. If you have an interest in weight loss and optimising your health, well then it would be in your interest to understand how insulin works in our bodies and why better control of this hormone could potentially improve your life.
Taking a closer look at insulin
Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas. Levels of insulin will change as a result of many factors including things like sleep patterns, cortisol levels, stress and physical activity. However the greatest influencer of insulin is the food we eat and in particular food containing carbohydrate
When we eat any food that contains carbohydrate, and yes I mean any food from a bowl of pasta to a can of coke, a piece of bread, a carrot or a tub of yoghurt we will require insulin to be released. The reason for this is that it doesn’t matter how the carbohydrate containing food starts out, by the time we have broken it down and it arrives in our blood stream it is always going to be glucose (there is one exception but I’ll leave that for another blog).
As soon as glucose arrives in the blood stream, our body wants to get the glucose out of the blood and into our cells. The reason for this is two-fold - firstly glucose in our blood is of no use to us, in order for us to actually use glucose it must be transported into a muscle or liver cell; and secondly if levels of glucose build up in our blood, well this can become dangerous, with both short and long term implications. We therefore need to get this glucose out of the blood and ideally we want this to happen as efficiently and effectively as possible.
This is where insulin comes into play.
In order to get glucose from the blood stream into our cells, we need insulin. Insulin could be compared to a key. When glucose arrives in the blood, insulin is released so that it can ‘unlock the door’ and allow glucose to flow from the bloodstream into a cell.
If this system works seamlessly, glucose flows into the cells and blood glucose levels are reduced back to acceptable levels quickly. Unfortunately this system is NOT working seamlessly in many individuals and this is where the problem lies!
In many individuals the ‘key’ doesn’t work very well – perhaps it is a bit rusty and takes a while to actually unlock the door or perhaps the key doesn’t fit and in response the body releases more and more ‘keys’ (insulin) in an attempt to find one that does work! Basically in real terms what is going on here, is that our cells are RESISTANT to the action of insulin. The result is that glucose levels remain raised in the blood for an extended period of time and more and more insulin is secreted resulting in high insulin levels in the blood. It is high levels of insulin in our blood that is directly related to weight gain or difficulties losing weight and many lifestyle diseases including metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease to name but a few.
Insulin is what we call a fat storage hormone. When levels of insulin are raised we are forced into fat storage mode i.e. we favour carbohydrates for fuel and fat remains trapped in our cells. True fat loss can only occur when insulin levels are low enough for fat to be released from our cells so that we can utilise it (fat) as an energy source.
Take a moment to back pedal here and consider what caused the raised insulin levels to begin with… the answer: carbohydrate-containing food. So if carbohydrate-containing food causes a massive rise in insulin and insulin results in fat storage, doesn’t it make sense that in order to lose weight and more specifically fat, we should be focusing on a reduction of carbohydrates in our diet? Well of course it does, and here is a summary from just one of the many research papers that are now available demonstrating this point:
This study (https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/88/4/1617/2845298) published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism randomized a group of obese women to either a low-fat, low-calorie diet or a low carbohydrate diet that was not restricted in calories for a 6-month period. On average the women in the low carb group lost 7.6kg whilst the low fat group lost on average 4.2kg. An additional benefit of low carbohydrate diets was identified during this study and that related to decreased appetite, which resulted in a spontaneous reduction of calories for the women in the low carb group. Hunger control is considered by many to be the greatest benefit of a low carb approach, allowing this diet to be sustainable in the long term.
In my many years as a low carb dietitian I have found the combination of hunger control and the ability to burn fat to be an unbeatable combination when attempting to lose weight and keep it off for good. Say goodbye to calorie counting, stop weighing and measuring your food, if you want to lose weight simply reduce your carbohydrates and you will be on the right pathway to success.
So… do you want to:
- Drop some unwanted kilograms?
- Boost your energy levels?
- Burn fat for fuel?
- Gain a healthy lifestyle?
Then… the Eat Play Thrive Low Carb Challenge is for you
6-WEEK LOW CARB CHALLENGE - FEBRUARY 2018
Following on from the incredible success of their 6-Week Low Carb Challenge, Eat Play Thrive will be doing it all again in February 2018 and you are invited to join them.
The Eat Play Thrive Low Carb Challenge has been designed to be easy and simple to implement. There is NO weighing and measuring of your food and definitely NO calorie counting.
Their low carb approach will leave you feeling extremely satisfied with recipes that feel indulgent and taste delicious.
The program is focused on boosting your energy levels, optimising your health and reducing your weight.
It is all about seeing some remarkable results within a 6-week period but also about establishing sustainable habits around your lifestyle. Available online throughout Australia.
Click this link to sign up today... http://eatplaythrive.com.au/2017/12/18/6-week-low-carb-challenge-february-2018/