Is cutting out carbohydrates truly the best way of losing weight, in a healthy way? The answer: no. We tell you why.
Losing weight is a challenge when living in the multi-culinary country of Singapore. However, when we do manage to gather the mental fortitude to strictly monitor our food intake, the results show. There is a wide array of diet and nutrition plans—low fat, low sugar, gluten free— but the one that has almost never failed for the first month is the Atkins diet. This is because it limits the intake of sugar and carbohydrates.
When carbohydrates are taken out, the body is left with nothing but stored glucose and fat. Without adequate carbohydrates, the body metabolises glycogen—a substance deposited in body tissues as a store of carbohydrates—for energy. Certain carbohydrates contain less fructose, a sub category of sugar that converts into fat exceptionally faster.
So the low carbohydrate Atkins diet does sound good, but are the consequences worth it?
Good Guy Glycogen
Although metabolising glycogen reserves in the body does lead to weight loss, little of this includes fat. When this form of sugar is slowly taken from your body, it also causes dehydration and cuts muscle mass, which is very easy to burn. This explains the exponential progress in the first two weeks.
Losing muscle mass actually affects the body’s metabolism more than you think—muscles are responsible for facilitating most of the body’s metabolism, and muscle atrophy occurs when muscle glycogen is depleted since the muscle fibres begin burning protein as an energy supplement. This ultimately results in a protein deficit without metabolising any fat, which leads to a drop in energy levels or fatigue that can affect your active lifestyle.
The body’s metabolism definitely will suffer from a diet devoid of carbohydrates. A more severe outcome of going completely carbohydrate-free is a condition known as ketosis. When the body burns fat instead of glucose for energy, ketones start to build up. This leads to a more extreme level of mental fatigue, a lack of insulin, dehydration, and an imbalance in the blood’s chemical make up.
Simple vs Complex
Naturally, when carbohydrates are eliminated, either protein or fat become the go-to substitutes for our body. Research shows that having a protein-oriented diet has a 59 percent risk of death when substituting fat, which goes up to 66 percent when substituting carbohydrates instead.
So what are good alternatives? Going on a low carbohydrate diet comes highly recommended to meet your body’s need for fibre and glucose. Complex carbohydrates are under a subcategory of carbohydrates that includes wholegrain bread, oats, green vegetables, beans and peas. These foods are not only filled with nutritious fibre, but also contain a good amount of minerals and vitamins.
As complex carbohydrates consist of more than two sugar molecules found in simple carbs, they are great for quickly filling the tummy, which is great for moderating the amount of food consumed per meal. Complex carbohydrates take longer to burn, but are good for maintaining your ideal weight. If you would like to maintain your metabolic rate, consuming complex carbohydrates while engaging in cardiovascular activities will enhance your stamina and keep your metabolism active.
Despite the general consensus about carbohydrates being the villain keeping you from your optimal weight, the very same nutrients are crucial in keeping your energy levels in check and regulating your metabolism. With an active lifestyle and consuming the right amount of carbohydrates, you will see the changes you are looking for in the long run.