Feeding the Family: Low Carb Diet Magic?

So what's the deal with fast weight loss? We've seen for years the low carb diet promoters claiming you can lose a bunch of weight really quickly if you follow their diet plan.  The fact is, when somebody switches from a carbohydrate rich diet to a low carb diet, they do lose weight.

So let's talk about that.

What's happening is your body is losing water. For every gram of carbohydrate stored in your muscles, four grams of water are stored with it. When carbohydrates are no longer stored in the muscles, that water is no longer stored either. In the short term, this is the magic of these diets, this is why people can lose weight so quickly.

This is similar to the way wrestlers and other athletes in weight class sports lose weight, they just get their bodies to stop storing water. For something like this you don’t even need to change your carbohydrate intake too much unless you go to an extreme. You just basically overload yourself with a ton of water, and then start cutting back over a period of days, and you'll lose an enormous amount of weight.

I personally lost 10 pounds for the last powerlifting meet that I did and that was over a course of, I want to say, five days. The advantage here is that you are losing the weight quickly, so the body isn’t typically going to attack the muscle fibers.

Sheet pan salmon. Technically low-carb, but also just a super healthy dinner option.

Sheet pan salmon. Technically low-carb, but also just a super healthy dinner option.

Another key to the popularity of low carb diets or fat heavy diets tends to be the high fat and protein. These high levels of fat tend to be more satiating, so people aren’t hungry for a longer period of time. Much like with weight lifting and conditioning, I’ve personally tried every diet from here to the other side of the world that made any sense to me to see what it felt like. The best thing for me about the low carb diets were how tasty they were, because of how much fat there is in the diet.

However, nothing compares to a balanced carbohydrate rich diet for energy intake.

The point is there's no like magic to losing weight. At the end of the day, a low carb diet will give you a little bit of immediate motivation, because of the rapid weight loss. However, this may also happen if you just clean up your diet a little bit as well, even with keeping a lot of carbohydrates in. Just from cleaning things up but still eating a lot of carbohydrates, I'll lose a bunch of water that first week, you know, to the tune of four or five pounds. The truth is weight loss or gain is a calories in versus calories out game.

Having the discipline to control your caloric intake over a long period of time, is what always wins out in the long run. Having the discipline to make sure that you are eating a very nutrient dense diet with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole food sources of carbohydrates will always win out in the long run for what's going to make you feel and perform at your best. Ketogenic and low carb diets are great and as I said, I've done them myself with quite a bit of success. But, I’ve also had quite a bit of success from a carbohydrate rich diet and much more energy.

So these diets can be beneficial in the short term, but nothing beats a more balanced approach. This goes for how you look, feel, and perform.

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