Do you want to know if a low-carb diet can help you lose weight? This post will help you understand whether it is really necessary to cut your carbs or not.
Most people think that cutting carbs is the fastest way to lose weight. And the more carbs one can cut, the better.
But you should know that while a low-carb diet will help you lose weight fast, it will not do much to help you lose fat.
What is a low-carb diet?
A low-carb diet is one which tends to keep it’s carbohydrates very low.
To understand why we need to understand what is insulin and how it affects the fat stores in the body.
What is insulin and how carbs affect it?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that is used to move nutrients to the cells in the body. Insulin moves nutrients to the muscle and fat cells in the body.
The basis of a low-carb diet is that carbs spike the insulin levels that can supposedly increase fat storage.
So if one wants to achieve fat loss, then one should have a low-carb diet so that there is no insulin spike.
But this information is flawed because insulin does not make you fat but eating more calories than what your body burns makes you fat.
When you eat food, it is broken down into molecules that are transmitted in the blood along with insulin so that they reach the muscle and fat cells.
Once the food has been digested and absorbed, the insulin decreases and reached a base level.
So as you can see insulin is crucial for your survival.
However, insulin also tends to provide energy in the form of glucose to the fat cells. And the easiest way for the body to get glucose is from carbs.
This is the reason why carbs get a bad name and a low-carb diet is recommended by people. Because people think that a low-carb diet means that a lower insulin level and that will burn more fat in the body.
However, this is incorrect as we will see now.
How insulin and fat storage work?
When you consume food, your insulin levels rise and so does your fat storage.
And when food is not available, your insulin levels are lowered and your body starts burning the stored fat.
This cycle of fat storage and fat burning occurs as you consume food and when the food is absorbed respectively.
So an increase and decrease in insulin levels do not make one fat if the energy levels are in balance. This is because the fat storage and fat burning that takes place in the body are in sync.
However, if the fat storage is more than the fat burning, then you will start gaining fat.
What is energy balance?
The reason for this has to do with what we call as energy balance.
Basically, if you eat more calories than what your body burns then the excess calories are stored in the body as fat.
Relatively, if you eat fewer calories than what your body burns then the body uses the remaining calories from the stored body fat and you will lose fat.
So as you can see, it is a relatively simple concept if you want to lose fat. All you need to do is to put your body in a calorie deficit where you consume fewer calories than what your body burns.
Now you should understand that the insulin levels and the carbs you eat are not responsible for you losing or gaining fat.
Rather, it is the energy balance based on the number of calories that you consume that will make you gain or lose fat depending on whether you are in a calorie surplus or a calorie deficit.
Does a low-carb diet help you lose weight?
Studies have shown that a low-carb diet has helped people to lose weight. At the same time, other studies have shown that a low-carb diet is no better than others when it comes to losing weight.
The main factor where low-carb diets have helped to lose weight is when they had a high-protein component.
When protein intake is kept the same, there is no difference between a low-carb or a high-carb diet.
How a low-carb diet can help you lose weight (not fat)?
A low-carb diet can help you lose weight in the beginning though not fat.
This is because carbs are converted by the body into glucose and stored in the muscles as glycogen.
Glycogen is stored in the muscles along with some quantity of water.
So when you go on a low-carb diet what will happen is that your glycogen stores will be depleted. And, as a result, you will lose a lot of water that was stored with the glycogen.
This means that you will lose weight rapidly but not lose fat.
So basically, a low-carb diet will help you lose water weight rapidly and maybe motivate you a bit in the beginning as you seem to lose weight but over the long run, it will not help you lose fat.
Are there any benefits of a low-carb diet?
As you can see, that a low-carb diet has no special benefits when you want to lose body fat.
However, it may have it’s purpose in certain situations.
It may help you if you are participating in a show such as a bodybuilding show and want to look leaner.
A low-carb diet will help you lose water weight from under your skin and make you look much leaner.
A low-carb diet may help you feel better if you are overweight. This is because a high-carb diet can make you feel lazy and lethargic and that can be avoided by using a low-carb diet.
A low-carb diet can help you if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and don’t need to consume too many carbs.
I hope you now know what a low-carb diet is and in what situations it can be used.
It definitely is not the magic pill of weight loss that the world seems to suggest.
If you are looking to build muscle and lose fat, then a moderately high carb and moderately high-fat diet is what will help you.
If you are looking to create a healthy meal plan that can help you lose weight, then please have a look at how to build your own weight loss diet plan.
If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below.
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