The Truth About Low Carb Dieting

The Truth About Low Carb Dieting
Author: Gary Matthews

Every day you walk down the street it is becoming more and more apparent that the average person is becoming larger and this trend has escalated over recent years. Why are they getting fatter? Here are some reasons …

[ul]Less incidental activity
Automated and computerized lifestyle
Longer working hours and less leisure
Increased consumption of processed foods
Our food servings are larger than ever[/ul]

Being overweight, or obese, has now moved from a social nuisance and domestic embarrassment to an official disease. The American Heart Association has announced obesity is a major risk for heart disease.

Obesity itself has become a major and dangerous epidemic. More than 70% of US adults are overweight and that figure is rapidly increasing.

What do most people do to rid their body of unwanted fat? They diet! Dieting is now a trillion dollar industry and just about every month a new diet is announced. If you do have weight problems how do you find a diet that is safe, effective and sustainable?

What you do is try to find a diet that includes a variety of foods that you can live with comfortably. You have to take a long-term view and include plenty of exercise. A good diet is one that supplies all of the essential vitamins and minerals, and is not high in fat or protein.

Research on people who have successfully lost a lot of weight and kept it off long term, shows that the vast majority succeeded by consuming a low fat diet high in fiber coupled with strength training and cardiovascular activity.

[ul]Be wary of diets that Ban a specific food group
Promise a quick fix
Replace a balanced meal with a drink or a snack bar
Make recommendations based on single studies
Make recommendations to help sell a single product[/ul]

Excess weight does not appear overnight and nor will it disappear overnight! In fact the faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to pile the pounds back on. Seek out a program that will help you maintain long term body fat losses by providing attainable solutions such as a program that promotes lifestyle changes, healthy eating and regular exercise.

Regular exercise is important (i.e. strength training) as it burns fat, boosts your metabolism and also increases your energy levels. Dietary changes can lead to initial weight loss, but this is only for the short term.

Exercise is essential for maintaining weight loss for the long term. Now let’s take a closer look at what food is made up of and then you will have a good idea of what to look for in your daily eating plan.

Firstly we need a wide range of nutrients to perform various functions for a healthy life. These nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins and fat and are all present in the food we eat on a daily basis.

The foods containing these nutrients are cereals, legumes, nuts, vegetables, fruits, milk products and flesh foods (fish, meat and poultry).

We need all these nutrients to live and thrive and since we receive them through the food we eat, our food must be well balanced and in the proper proportions. Food is a fuel; the body requires this fuel for energy which is measured in fats, carbohydrate and protein.

Each of these nutrients provides different amounts of energy and these are measured in calories.

Nutrient / Calories per Gram
Carbohydrate / 4
Protein / 4
Fat / 9

Let’s look at carbohydrates first, carbohydrates supply energy for our body, they provide fiber for the prevention of disease and taste and texture to food. They are found in cereals, potatoes, fruits and vegetables.

They come in two basic forms, simple and complex. Simple carbs are easily identified by their taste and are sweet. Complex carbs, such as potatoes are pleasant to the taste buds, but are not sweet.

They are then divided into two groups, high fiber and low fiber.

High-fiber foods are the healthiest choices for nutrition and the intake of these foods is associated with a lower incidence of cancer and diabetes. Carbohydrates supply the sort of calories easily burned during cardiovascular exercise. They are often wrongly feared and considered fattening, but the most important factor in weight control is balancing the energy (calories) consumed.

Please remember:

ENERGY IN is more than ENERGY OUT = Weight gain
ENERGY IN is equal to ENERGY OUT = Weight maintenance
ENERGY IN is less than ENERGY OUT = Weight loss

Different foods affect the ability to exercise at different levels. High levels of exercise (cardio and strength training) require carbohydrate as a fuel source; at lower levels it is fat. A lack of carbohydrate in the diet will lead to fatigue, the inability to exercise effectively, and excess fat consumption.

When our food is digested, carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars. These sugars are asorbed by the body and used by the muscles or stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. As our glycogen storage capacity is limited, carbohydrate needs to be continually topped up by the foods we eat.


The average person is extremely vulnerable to fad diets and extreme dieting behaviors. The low carbohydrate diet is one of the latest eating plans to hit the streets. This current diet craze is very popular but there are safer and more effective methods based on scientific research, to reduce body fat levels.


Why is this? Just as a car runs better on a certain fuel, so does the human body. Unfortunately the latest low-carbohydrate fad diets are not the fuel mix the human body was designed to run on.

Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, whereas fats contain 9 calories per gram. For weight loss, the priority is to decrease total calorie intake. Reducing the amount of fat in the diet will make the biggest difference in reducing total daily calorie intake and hence weight loss.



If you aren’t having enough carbohydrates in your diet you will experience:

[ul]Fatigue due to low blood sugar levels inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals
Low fiber intake, which may affect bowel movements
'Bad’ breath due to the breakdown products of fats (called ketones) [/ul]

The bottom line for carbohydrates and weight loss is to:

[ul]Try to balance carbohydrate intake with activity levels
Maintain energy levels by eating carbohydrate rich foods on a regular basis
Carbohydrate rich foods are normally low in fat and nutrient-rich[/ul]

What is the Glycemic Index?

Some carbohydrate foods will maintain your energy levels for hours, while some may cause your blood glucose to rise and fall. Different types of carbohydrate can also affect feelings of fullness in the stomach and this can influence hunger and your ability to control your body weight.

The glycemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrate foods according to their impact on blood sugar (glucose) levels:

Foods with a high GI are absorbed quickly into the blood stream and cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels.

While foods with a low GI are broken down more slowly over time and keep blood glucose levels more stable (Remember that low is slow!).

Why is the GI important?

When our blood glucose levels are stable we have plenty of readily available fuel for the brain and muscles. If our blood glucose levels drop too low (hypoglycemia) we feel tired, dizzy and generally unwell.

If our blood glucose levels rise too quickly this is usually followed by a rapid drop. Include low glycemic index foods in meals and snacks to slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. You will find a table for your convenience in the manual under nutrition.

A low glycemic index snack a few hours before exercise will help maintain your energy levels for more effective training. After high intensity exercise (strength training) a high glycemic index snack should be consumed within 30 minutes. This will help to replace energy and start the recovery process.

Low GI foods are ideal for losing weight due to the slow absorption from the gut. Low GI foods also help to keep blood sugar levels more stable and this has an effect on reducing sweet cravings.


Protein is a nutrient found widely in animal and plant foods, and is made up of amino acids, the building blocks for the body e.g. muscles, hair, and skin. Protein has two roles – it can be used for growth and repair or can be burned for energy, like carbohydrate and fat.

Protein supplements do not have any advantages over food sources of protein. They can be used for a quick meal or snack for people on the run, but should not be relied upon as a major source of protein in the diet.

Protein builds muscle and repairs muscle damage caused by high intensity exercise. Protein can also be used as a fuel, but to ensure protein is available for muscle building and repair, it is vitally important to eat enough carbohydrate so that the excessive protein is not used up.

The following foods are protein-rich and contain 10 grams of protein for every:

[ul]40 grams of lean beef
40 grams of chicken fillet 1 medium slice of ham
50 grams of cooked fish 1 large egg 1 cup milk 1 cup baked beans
30 grams of cheese [/ul]


Fat is a nutrient that is a contributor to the increasing problem of obesity in the world today and as a result I have often found clients who are obsessive about their fat intake.

There are three types of fats in the diet.

Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products. Research has indicated that saturated fats in the diet can increase LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, which is the unwanted cholesterol and should be avoided. The following foods contain this type of fat:

Cakes, biscuits and pastries [/ul]

Monounsaturated fats - Monounsaturated fats help to decrease the cholesterol and LDL levels in the blood. The following foods contain this type of fat:

[ul]Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Peanut Oil[/ul]

Polyunsaturated fats - Polyunsaturated fats in small quantities can help to decrease total cholesterol. Examples of Polyunsaturated Fats would be vegetable oil and palm oil.

Latest research shows that fat in food is the major culprit that leads to fat being on the body. As pointed out before, fats are high in calories. I recommended that people eat less than 20% of total their total calories from fat. We know that eating too much fat leads to health problems and weight-gain, but we do need some healthy fats in our diet.

Fats are a source of soluble vitamins A, D and E

Fats provide hormone production and skin health and protection of vital organs and insulation

Too much fat in the diet however, can increase the risk of a number of lifestyle diseases that are common in the western world

So Please…

Limit the saturated fats in your diet - which includes butter, cream, full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, cakes, pastries and fried foods

Choose lean meats where possible and trim visible fat and skin before cooking

Select low fat dairy products where possible

Be aware of the hidden fats in processed foods and foods high in salt

Choose liquid fats over solid fats e.g. olive and canola oil over butter

Include amounts of unsaturated or ‘good fats’ in your diet. Sources include fish, olive and canola oil, nuts and avocado

Also try to include the good omega-3 fats daily – fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are good sources and try to eat three fish meals a week if you can

Thanks to diet and weight control data recorded by the National Weight Control Registry, we now know more about the diet and weight-control behavior of 3,000 American adults who have lost an average of 60 pounds and have kept it off for an average of six years.

What is the secret of their successful weight loss?

[ul]They eat a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet
They monitor themselves by weighing in each week
They are very physically active (an hour or more, per day)
They eat a low fat breakfast [/ul]

Six years after their weight loss, most of the registry’s successful weight losers still report eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, with about 20 percent of their calories coming from fat.

A real weight loss program includes all the food groups, strength training, low level aerobics, a slight decrease in your daily calorie levels and a program that can be followed for life.

Above all try to achieve a balanced diet, eating a balanced variety of foods will help you to feel great every day, ensure better long-term health and improve weight control.

Gary Matthews is a trainer from “down under” who has been coaching clients from athletes to bodybuilders for two decades. Check him out at

Nice posting Learn the truth about low carb diets - find out why low carb diets do not work, and are bad for the health.

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