Home Dietary Supplements How Does this Low Carb Thing Work, Anyway?

How Does this Low Carb Thing Work, Anyway?

I argue with my mom about this all the time.  She insists that the only way to lose weight is to expend more calories than you eat.  I tell her that there is an insulin component in there that regulates the way your body stores and uses fats and sugars.  If you know how your body works, you can use that to your advantage if you want to lose a few pounds here and there.  I am not advocating anything like the Adkins diet, although it works very well.  It just seems so unhealthy to eat so much fat and protein in whatever quantities you want.  That is the hook, though.  I like to eat a modified low-sugar diet complete with high complex carbs that break down slowly and don’t cause a big blood sugar rush.  When I want to lose weight faster, or get it “going”, I cut back on the carbs.  There are plenty of books and resources out there about how to do this safely, and plenty of reasons not to do it at all if you don’t know what you’re doing, but here’s a quick synopsis of how it works.

Low Carb Step-by-Step:

1.  You stop eating carbohydrates – bread, rice, pasta, high-starch veggies (potatoes, corn, peas), anything with sugar, fructose, honey, etc. in it including fruit and things like ketchup, salad dressing, gum & baked beans.   Instead, you eat low-starch veggies, plus protein and fat – things like lettuce, turkey, eggs, cheese, olive oil, chicken, fish, seafood, beef & pork.   This depletes your body of sugar.  It takes about 48 hours to get the sugar out of your blood and it sucks but your sugar cravings go away pretty quickly.  I always feel tired and a bit confused the first few days if I go too low on the carbs.  This too passes as my body figures out a new way to burn fuel. 

2.  The fewer carbs you eat, the less insulin you produce.  Note:  Insulin is produced when your blood glucose levels rise in order to bring the levels down in your blood stream (otherwise you have a build-up of sugar in your blood, i.e. diabetes).  Insulin also acts as a hormone to condition your body to store future carbs as fat in case of starvation and it also tells the cells not to release stored fat.

3.  So, if you aren’t eating anything that converts to glucose (carbohydrates), then insulin does not get produced and your body goes into “ketosis”.

4.  Ketosis is a state where your body primarily uses fat to fuel the body since there is no fast-burning fuel available.  Fast-burning fuel is made from carbohydrates and it is burned first.  If that’s gone, you start burning fat for energy and thereby lose weight.  If you’re always carbo loading, your body continues to burn that first plus you store the fat and never lose it.

I definately recommend you talk to your doc before starting any diet plan.  My doctor and I talk about what I eat and when I eat it (sometimes why I eat it) at every visit.  I’m a good student and I only significantly reduce my carbs for short periods of time, then reintroduce high complex carbs a little at a time (whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes), always trying to avoid white rice, white breads, potatoes and refined sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup).

See My Favorite Breakfast – Cheesy Egg Muffins

Important Things To Remember:  If you’re going to go out for a low-carb dinner, go ahead and have that wedge salad with blue cheese, grilled steak (try to pick a lean cut) smothered in mushrooms, some creamed spinach and grilled asparagus on the side.  Enjoy every bite.  It’s all low-carb or no carb.  If you’ve already burned off any sugar in your body (maybe since lunch depending on what you did to burn energy that day) and you don’t add any bread or potatoes or desert or alcohol to your meal at dinner, you will burn that meal as fat as long as you don’t add any carbs before it is burned, which could take a while.  If you eat that big fat meal and have a few bites of a roll and maybe a glass of wine or a little bit of dessert, your body is going to release insulin, burn the roll and dessert as energy first, tell your body not to release the fat and you will have just consumed a gazillion calories of food that will stick to you like glue.  That’s the danger of going off and on the carb wagon without knowing what you’re doing.  You could easily gain weight instead of lose!  Along those lines, be sure to check the “nutritional facts” on the food packaging.  Many products contain sugar or carbs and you would never know it.  Beware of foods marked “lite” or “low-fat” as well.  They can be surprisingly high in carbs.  Did you know that pretty much everything at PF Changs has sugar in it?  Be sure to ask your waiter about the ‘sauce’ you’re about to order, wherever you are.

One of the most important components of keeping the weight off is an exercise plan.  Now hear this.  You can lose weight without the burden of a full blown workout schedule and maybe that’s the best way to go at first, but I guarantee you will feel better if you get moving.  Start with a slow, short walk and some stretching and go from there. 

Allegro Medical has a Dietary Supplements category with everything from Low Carb Products to Herbal Supplements and Vitamins that just by reading the different product descriptions will educate you.   I also recommend a visit to our Exercise/Fitness area for tools to get your in-home workout plan going.  Need help losing weight?  Visit our Weight Loss Help category.

Please respond with comments below.  I would love to hear from you about your experiences with dieting, recipes, advice, etc.

As always, thanks for being an Allegro customer.

-v

Valerie Paxton is a co-founder of AllegroMedical.com and lives in Phoenix, AZ. In 1997 she set out with her business partner, Craig Hood to form Allegro Medical - a company dedicated to helping people lead more independent and healthy lives. They poured their knowledge and experience into AllegroMedical.com and now have more than 1 million customers nationwide. Valerie has a degree in Journalism from the University of Nebraska and has spent most of her career in communications, marketing, PR, and investor relations. She enjoys giving advice, mentoring, volunteering, writing, reading, cooking, telling funny stories, healthy eating, her cocker spaniel Honey, her boyfriend Todd, hiking, kayaking, jokes and world travel. Follow Valerie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/vpaxton