All of us are looking for that right method to lose and maintain a perfect weight. Health experts and nutritionists have constantly reminded us that the healthy way to lose weight is by achieving a negative calorie balance while maintaining healthy food intake. It is a proven fact that you can lose half kg to one kg per week by reducing your calorific intake by 500 or 1000 Kcal per day (not less than 1200Kcal) but we always want instant results! Many of us have tried several fad diets to lose weight fast. One such popular diet is a low carb or a very low carb diet. Before we start on how these diets work, let's understand what carbs are.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient, which means that our body needs them in large quantities. Carbs are the most preferred and efficient energy source for our body. We need energy to do any physical activity, and the best part about carbs is that they are readily available. They are found in almost all plant-based foods in varying amounts. Cereal grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, dals, and nuts and seeds, all add carbs to our meals. Both the quality and quantity of carbs affect our health and weight. Simple carbs like those from refined sugars are empty calories, while simple carbs from natural sources like milk and fruits with other nutrients are beneficial. Complex carbs are found in whole grains and legumes. They slowly digest and keep you satiated for long; meaning, they facilitate weight loss. These are also loaded with health-protecting nutrients like B vitamins, essential minerals like phosphorus and zinc, phytonutrients that are strong antioxidants.
(Also Read: 5 Best Low Carb Recipes)
What Are Low Carb Diets?
When carbs are broken down to glucose, insulin is released to push this into the cells where they are used as energy. Extra carbs are stored as glycogen and the remaining as fat in our body. Low carb diets work on the premise that lesser carbs mean lesser insulin in our blood and that leads to fat being burnt for fuel which leads to weight loss. These diets have shown that people may lose more weight in the short term but in the long run, the advantages have not been significant. Also, it is believed that a reason for weight loss may not just be carb limiting, but as these diets recommend higher intakes of fat and protein, which keeps you full for longer periods of time and prevents overeating.
So, all this seems good and a low carb diet may just be the way to achieve weight goals, but still wondering, why isn't it working for you?!
Well, Here Are Some Reasons That Why Your Low Carb Diet Is Not Working For You:
Calorie restrictions to very minimal amounts push your body into starvation mode, which means a slowdown of metabolism. A slowdown of metabolism means weight loss isn't going to happen! A lot of us are conscious of our body weight and while in the bid to lose weight, we eat very little food - even the proteins and fat recommended in your plan are left partially. A mindset that the lesser you eat will mean more weight loss is preventing you from weight loss; therefore, follow a plan that your health coach has provided you.
Skipping meals in the hope that you will lose faster is a myth. There are two outcomes - one as described earlier, you will land up slowing your metabolism; and two, you get a hunger attack and you binge on unhealthy and junk foods. So, again follow a healthy diet plan designed especially for your body by your dietitian or nutritionist.
Overeating, yes, it can happen when you remove food groups from your meals. Calories from fat are 9Kcal/gm and proteins provide 4Kcal.gm, so going overboard with your serving sizes will still get you to eat much more than you need.
Expectation setting is the cornerstone for any success story. Being unrealistic while setting weight goals may frustrate you and lead to zero results. Be realistic, sit with your coach and understand, learn from your personal experience, and don't give up just because your friend/colleague/partner lost weight more than you. Every body is different and reacts differently to the same diet, so understand your body.
Stresses out? Well, you are pushing your cortisol levels way too high. Your appetite may go up, you may reach for high-calorie comfort foods, all of which will make all your weight loss efforts go waste. So, choose the diet you wish to follow, do so happily and religiously.
I would pen down by saying that cutting out whole food groups from your daily meals isn't a good strategy, instead choose the healthier options, keep an eye on the servings and exercise a lot. This is the best way to stay healthy and maintain your weight too.
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.