Low-Carb Issues

March 17, 2010

Low carbohydrate diets are all the rage now-a-days.  Probably you know someone that is on one, or that was on one, or that is planning to be on one.

Why does a person go the low carb diet route?  Some reasons might be that they’ve seen their friend(s) do it, and their friend(s) lost weight on it.  Another might be that they figure that the body will turn to burning pure fat for energy once no carbs are available.  Still, another reason — for the muscle builders out there — might be that they figure that without carbs and with plenty of protein the body will burn fat and use the available protein to preserve their hard-earned muscle mass.

Oh that the last 2 reasons in the above paragraph were entirely true.  To understand what happens when a person goes on a low carb diet, let’s look at what roles carbohydrates have in our bodies.

First, carbohydrates are an energy source for high intensity exercise.  Carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver and glucose in the blood.  A low carb diet will greatly reduce glycogen reserves.  During exercise, when glycogen stores have been reduced by dieting, the body will more rapidly deplete glycogen reserves and rely on fat for energy.  The breakdown of fat into usable energy is much slower than that of carbohydrates, so exercise performance is decreased when fat becomes the primary energy source.

Second, carbohydrates are a PROTEIN SPARER.  When the body doesn’t have carbs (glycogen) for energy, it then relies on fat AND PROTEIN (muscle) for glucose synthesis.  In the extreme (as in the case of low calorie, low carb diets), this can lead to muscle loss.

Third, carbs are a “metabolic primer”.  In other words, carbohydrates are used in fat oxidation (fat burning).  Insufficient carbohydrate breakdown in the body, which can occur due to carb restriction or prolonged exercise, causes fat mobilization (gathering) to exceed fat oxidation.

Fourth, carbs serve as the preferred fuel for the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

Given the info above, can you see that carbohydrates are our friends?  We need them.  They give us energy for exercise.  They help us to keep our muscles.  They even help us to burn fat!  And on top of all that, they supply our brain with the fuel it needs to function correctly.

So, if you’re aiming to lose some fat, try a balanced diet with moderately reduced calories along with exercise.  This is the healthiest method of fat loss with the greatest chance of being permanent.iStock_000007144545XSmall


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4 Responses to “Low-Carb Issues”

  1. Hi Darryl,

    We definitely low carb it without no carbing it. Avoiding refined carbs. Family health history necessitates it.

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell

    Dating Expert and Online Dating Coach

  2. Jason Carroll says:


    I think most would agree that a healthy, well balanced diet including complex carbohydrates is the best long term solution to becoming and staying fit but it also seems that low carb diets work, at least for the short term.

    Are those on those type diets losing fat, muscle, water or exactly what because they seem to lose weight granted most put it all right back on when they stop doing low carb?


    • Darryl says:

      Hey, Jason, thank you for your comment. I will reply to your question on a post. — Darryl

  3. Keri Eagan says:

    Hi Darryl,
    One thing I found out by going low carb is that it appears I have had an allergy to guten for some time. Of course you can still get carbs without gluten, just have to be a little more structured about meals. Always good to hear your take on things.

    Keri Eagan
    Alternative Healing *Insight



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