It turns out that your body needs a certain number of carbohydrates in order to metabolize food. So, if you’re not into ketosis, low-carb diets can actually stop your weight loss.
Bad old carbs have been off the menu on many diets for several years, with a number of programs like Keto, Atkins, The Zone, and a number of shake-based diets that significantly reduce or reduce bread, rice, cereal, pasta, and sugar even completely eliminate and even fruit as a standard recommendation.
While extremely low-carb or very low-calorie diets, such as keto, lead to relatively rapid weight loss if rigorously followed, there is also a less-discussed drawback of significantly reducing carbohydrate intake.
In this scenario, chronically low carbohydrate intake can significantly affect metabolism, especially in active people, ultimately making weight control increasingly difficult over time.
Do you like what you see? For more stories like this, sign up for our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter.
So, if you follow low-carb diets frequently but don’t see any real, sustainable results, these are the reasons why consuming too few carbohydrates can be as bad as consuming far too much when it comes to optimizing your metabolism.
What are carbohydrates and what do i need them for?
High-carbohydrate foods include plant-based foods such as starchy vegetables, fruits, grains, grains, and simple sugars such as honey and sugar.
Carbohydrates are digested in the body into glucose, which is the main fuel for the muscles and the brain.
A common weight loss strategy is to reduce total carbohydrate intake to increase the amount of fat required for energy and to aid weight loss.
More extreme low-carb diets include keto, where carbohydrate intake is only 20-30g per day, or less than 10% of total energy leads to ketosis.
In this state, carbohydrate intake is so low that the body is forced to break down fat and produce ketones, which serve as an alternative source of energy for the brain and muscles.
The confusion with the low carb diet
While inducing ketosis can be an extremely effective way to lose weight quickly, the reality is that it is not that easy to do or maintain over the long term.
A much more common scenario is one where carbohydrate intake is reduced, with grains, grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables being eliminated, but not so low as to induce ketosis. Metabolically, the body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates to burn body fat.
This means that it is possible to consume carbohydrates, but too much to achieve ketosis and too little to provide enough energy for muscles and support fat metabolism. Usually this occurs when someone who exercises regularly reduces their carbohydrate intake to 100g or less.
Initially, such a reduction in calories leads to a weight loss of 2-3 kg before it completely stops and no matter how much more exercise or how little you eat, the scales will not budge.
It also explains why someone who has been successful on a low-carb diet will regain weight quickly when they reintroduce carbohydrates. To make matters worse, every time the carbohydrates are reduced again to cause weight loss, it becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight. Basically, the body has lost its metabolic capacity after repeatedly starving for its main fuel.
What does that mean?
If you regularly cut carbohydrates to lose weight and find that it doesn’t seem to be working anymore, it is a sign that your carbohydrate intake is simply too low for your physical activity.
In general, for those who exercise regularly and have relatively little weight to lose (5-10 kg), a total carbohydrate intake of less than 100 g per day is too low and increase your intake to 120-160 g, or at least 30-40 % of total calories may be what your body needs to metabolize fat as your calories are reduced.
This total amount of carbohydrates is a moderate intake and a recipe that has been shown to allow for slower but sustained weight losses of ½ -1 per week in the long run.
What else is going on
The other less-mentioned problem with reducing carbohydrates is that we then often overdo the protein and fat by overeating fatty meats, cheese, avocado, nuts, and high-calorie keto and paleo snacks.
Here the overall carbohydrates can be low, but the calories stay too high due to too much fat and protein. Regardless of the macronutrient composition of the diet, weight loss will stop if too many calories are ingested.
The take home message
While we may think we’re doing “keto” or even “low carb”, a closer look at eating habits, calorie intake, and macronutrient balance will often reveal that your calorie intake, or even carbohydrate intake, is not as low as you think it is.
While our natural instinct is to cut down on carbohydrates, it is possible to undereat overall and negatively affect metabolic rate in the long term.
A quick calorie or carbohydrate check through an online monitoring program or advice from an accredited practicing dietitian may be all you need to get both your macros and calories on track to meet your nutritional and body composition goals .
All of the products featured in this article are selected by our editors who do not play favorites. When you buy something, we may receive some of the sale. Learn more.