Pros And Cons Of A Low Carb Diet
If you’ve been reading the literature on fat loss diets, you’ve likely come to one conclusion: low carb dieting is the way to go.
And for many people, it is. Low carb diets often bring great benefits including stabilising blood glucose levels, which can help your body increase the level of fat oxidation taking place, improving your level of hunger control, and helping keep your fat burning hormones such as testosterone at a proper level.
But for others? Low carb diets are torture. Not only do their body’s not react well to these diets, not shedding the weight as quickly as they hoped, but they feel absolutely miserably on them.
Before you rush out and jump onto that low carb diet, it’s important that you pinpoint which type of individual you are so that you can best choose the diet to meet your own needs.
Remember that what works great for your neighbour may not necessarily help work great for you. When it comes to nutrition – and even exercise for that matter, customising your plan for you is what’s critical.
Also keep in mind that there are different levels of low carb diets. You can have very low carb plans and medium low carb plans, both of which will work with the right individual.
So to help assess which type of diet will be right for you, let’s go over five questions you must ask yourself.
The High Carb Meal Question
The very first question to ask yourself will very often tell you what you need to know.
That question? Imagine for a second that you’ve just finished a carb-heavy meal consisting of a plate of pasta with tomato sauce and grilled chicken on the side along with some apples baked with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup for dessert.
How do you feel?
Do you feel sleepy and like you need a nap? Or, are you feeling energised and like you could take on whatever your day brings?
If you feel like the former – like it’s definitely time for a nap, this is a good indication your body may not handle large doses of carbohydrates all that well and you may find you feel much better on the lower carb approach.
Your body will just feel sluggish and low in energy if you eat too many carbs so instead, you should focus on having fat as your primary fuel source (as you would with a low carb diet).
On the other hand, if you felt energized and ready to do whatever your day brought on, you would likely respond miserably to a low carb diet. Your body functions very well on carbs and you want to use these as your primary fuel source.
If you felt somewhere in between – not too sleepy, but not too energised, you may be someone who responds to a moderate carb diet. You’re right in the middle.
What Is Your Activity Level?
The next question to ask yourself is what your activity level is. Are you regularly going to the gym to perform a number of intense workouts each week? Or, are you more of a leisure exerciser for now?
Remember, intense exercise – weight lifting and sprint training for instance, rely on glucose as a primary fuel source. If that glucose isn’t coming in (you aren’t eating any carbohydrates), performance will seriously suffer.
Most people will find their exercise intensity begins to plummet dramatically on very low carb diets, so if exercise is a big part of your plan, this is a good reason to consider adding some carbs back in.
If you’re someone who isn’t doing all that much exercise, then this shouldn’t be of concern and you will not have to worry as much about how many carbohydrates you are specifically eating.
Do You Experience Mental Difficulties With Few Carbs?
I want you think about something else for a second. Imagine that it’s been a very long and hard day at work – you missed lunch and it’s now 5pm. You haven’t eaten since breakfast and can feel your stomach growling.
How do you feel mentally? Do you feel a little foggy and almost like you can’t think straight? If so, this is another reason to not go on a very low carb diet.
Some people find that they feel very fuzzy-minded when bringing their carbohydrate too low and this is due to the fact the brain primarily runs off glucose as well.
Some people will find that they can function fine off the alternative – ketone bodies – which are produced when not enough glucose is consumed. Others don’t.
If you’ve ever tried a low carb diet before and found that two weeks in you felt like you were in a state of mental stupor, this is a very clear sign that low carb dieting isn’t for you.
It’s normal to feel it at first, but if after a week or so of sticking with that diet, it’s still not letting up, it likely won’t be. Some people will never function well on a very low carb diet plan regardless of how much time they give their body to try and adapt to it.
How Much Weight Do You Have To Lose?
Also consider how much weight you have to lose. The leaner you currently are, the more insulin sensitive your body will tend to be, meaning you can handle carbohydrates in the diet better.
Also, the leaner you are, the more your body is going to protect you from losing any further weight through regulating a hormone called leptin, which monitors total body fat stores.
When carbohydrate intake goes down, leptin tends to fall also, which can slow your metabolic rate, increase hunger, and make further fat loss even more challenging.
Therefore, bringing carbs up higher as you get leaner is actually a wise move in many cases.
Those who have 20+ pounds to lose don’t need to worry about this factor, so low carb dieting can be utilized more readily. Then as they begin to approach that lower body weight, they can then start adding carbohydrates back in as their body will be better equipped to tolerate them.
What Foods Do You Enjoy?
Finally, last but not least, consider your food preferences. What foods do you enjoy eating? This is important because if you don’t enjoy your diet plan, it won’t matter how well it works, the chances of you sticking with it over the long haul will be very low.
While this isn’t to say you can feast on pizza, ice cream, and chicken wings all day of course, if you tend to crave carb-dense food – rice, sweet potatoes, and fruit for instance over fat-dense food – nuts, nut butter, steak, and avocado, it can indicate to you which direction you should possibly go with your diet plan.
So keep these points in mind. Remember that when it comes to nutrition, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Rather, you need to take into account a number of factors as you attempt to figure out which diet is going to help meet your own specific needs as readily as possible.