The real science behind the low-carb diet
A low-carb diet is a diet that limits the intake of carbohydrates, such as those found in grains, starchy vegetables and fruit. Hence, it emphasises the consumption of foods high in protein and fat.
In this blog post, I will share the latest science on a low-carb diet with you, and we will explore its influence on weight loss.
The strongest proponent of the famous low carb diet was Robert Atkins, an American physician and cardiologist. He is also known for the Atkins diet. However, Robert didn’t invent the system; he just helped spread it worldwide and establish a strong foothold.
Robert Atkins specialised in cardiology and complementary medicine and went on to open a private practice on the Upper East Side of New York City in 1959. Atkins’ medical practice did not go well initially, and he began to put on weight and became depressed. After doing some research, he decided to pursue a low-carbohydrate approach published by Alfred W. Pennington, based on research Pennington did during World War II at DuPont.
The latest science on the low-carb diet
There is little evidence in the scientific literature that indicates any particular diet is superior for helping people lose weight. Most people who practice diet to lose weight without any sustainable weight loss plan regain most or all of it.
A meta-analysis is a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies. In one of the meta-analysis studies called Impact of low-carbohydrate diet on body composition: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies, 1416 obese participants involved in LCD showed the decreased body weight or fat mass.
In another study called Systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors, 1141 obese patients experienced a decrease in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, plasma triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, glycated haemoglobin, plasma insulin and plasma C-reactive protein.
We must remember to take these meta-analyses with a grain of salt. They tend to focus intensively on the summary effect and ignore that the treatment effects may vary from study to study. Moreover, there is always some bias involved in a study that may skew the final results.
Low-carb diet and weight-loss
When we talk about the low-carb diet for weight-loss, we tend to ignore an exercise part for a sustainable lifestyle. You can indeed lose weight without any exercise whatsoever, but my biggest concern is that it’s not a sustainable solution for the long term.
Exercise has so many benefits; it boosts our immune system and protects us from all kind of diseases. It helps maintain our ideal weight and makes us happier and positive by releasing the chemicals called endorphins.
Another argument is that if you marry the low-carb diet with regular exercise, you might run out of fuel (energy). As we learned from the previous blog posts, carbohydrate is the primary fuel for most exercise types and the most important nutrient for athletic performance. Our body runs most efficiently with a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. A Low-carb diet violates this balance.
Moreover, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the primary energy source for your body’s cells, tissues, and organs.
Many people around the World used the low-carb diet to lose weight, and I do not doubt that many of them succeeded. However, in my opinion, it’s best to approach your weight loss goal with a long-term mindset that emphasises a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. A sustainable lifestyle is a lifestyle that consists of active and healthy nutritional habits, a lifestyle that embodies a regular exercise routine.
The most efficient weight loss solutions I found are entirely personalised to you. Hence, you should always follow a personalised nutritional programme for weight-loss.
Many of the mentioned meta-analyses studies simply compared the low-carb diet with other diets and proved their point. But, to me, this is not enough.
There is no diet-fits-all type. Every human being is different and has to find what works for him or her. The solution needs to be personalised.
The low-carb diet has science-backed evidence that it helps reduce weight. But, it fails when we talk about creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle and maintaining the ideal weight.
We need carbohydrates for energy for regular exercise and an active lifestyle. By limiting our carbohydrates consumption, we withhold our body from breaking down carbohydrates into glucose to fuel our cells.
When you set out to lose weight, you aspire to lose weight in a sustainable and healthy way, and you avoid quick weight-loss systems.
Always be thinking long-term,
Damir Pervan, Founder and CEO of TrainChampion | Online weight loss platform