Cutting out carbohydrates from the diet is considered as the best way of losing weight fast. But it is definitely not the easiest way of losing weight. People find it difficult to stick to this type of diet. As you cut out carbs from your regular diet, you are left with tasteless food. We all know that carbohydrates, fats and proteins are equally essential for the functioning of the body. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy. Why do dietitians recommend a ‘no carb diet’, when stopping the intake of carbs can potentially damage the health of the person? How does a diet without carbs help lose weight fast? Are there any side effects of no carb diet? What are the advantages of avoiding carbs in diet? This article tries to answer these questions.
Health Benefits of Cutting Out Carbs
Starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains and sugar are the main sources of carbohydrates. Incorporating very small amount of carbs or no carbs in the diet is many times considered as fad; but it is true that it promotes quick weight loss. Carbohydrates provide sugars that are converted into glucose during body metabolism. Glucose is the source of energy and carbohydrates play an important role in generating energy. Proteins are required for strengthening the cellular structure of the body. Fats are also essential for maintaining the functions of body organs and generating energy. Consumption of carbs, proteins and fats in correct proportion helps maintain weight and health. Then how ‘cutting out carbs’ is considered as beneficial?
Weight Loss: Our body tends to store fat for future use. The body does not burn fat or protein to generate energy; when it is provided with sufficient carbs. It prefers to burn carbs and tends to store fat which results in fat deposition and weight gain. Liver, muscles and fat cells in hydrated form store the sugar obtained from carbs in the form of glycogen and body always burns glycogen first, to gain the required energy. As soon as you stop consuming carbs, the body starts using the stored glycogen. Plenty of water is needed to store glycogen in the body. So burning of stored glycogen leads to loss of water resulting in fast weight loss.
The body prefers to burn muscle tissues when there are insufficient carbs in the diet; but it won’t burn fat unless and until you force it to do so by discontinuing the supply of carbs. Thus no carb diet encourages the body to use fat for producing energy. Loss of fat results in quick weight loss. A person with 20 – 21 BMI can lose about 7 pounds within two weeks by following a no carb diet. An obese person wishing to lose 100 pounds may get rid of 10 – 20 pounds within fifteen days by following a no carb diet.
Perfect Shape: You must have heard about the popular Atkins diet that recommends cutting out carbs. You are asked to follow a diet that includes more fat and protein. When you ditch carbs from your diet, then only your body starts using the fat stores. Fat is burned to generate energy only in the absence of carbs in diet and so, low/no carb diet is the best way to get rid of fat fast. Everyone knows that fat gets accumulated very easily but when it comes to losing fat, nothing seems to be helpful. Vigorous fat burning exercises can help lose fat in the abdomen, waist, arms or thighs. But in this modern world of machines, most people follow a sedentary lifestyle and find it difficult to spare half an hour for daily exercises. Avoiding carbs not only promotes quick weight loss but it also helps attain perfect body shape. You can cut out carbs for one or two weeks under the guidance of your dietitian and can get rid of unwanted fat layers in the body.
Disease-free Life: Low or no carb diet helps you stay away from unwanted stuff that leads to health complications. While on diet, you avoid fast food, processed food (and preservatives), sugar, etc. Avoiding unhealthy food items helps lose weight fast and improves your overall health too. Avoiding sugary food lowers the risk of severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This in turn helps prevent the related health complications. Take a look at the list of no carb foods for more information.
Epilepsy Cure: Low carb diet is often recommended to children who suffer from epilepsy or seizures. When you stop providing carbs to the body, it tries to generate energy by breaking down fats. Fatty acids and ketone bodies are formed in the liver, during this process. Instead of glucose, ketone bodies are transported to various organs, including brain, through blood. The condition wherein an increased level of ketone bodies in the blood is noticed, is referred to as ketosis. It has been observed that the frequency of seizures in epileptic children is lowered significantly when the brain receives blood with high level of ketone bodies. The children are allowed to eat food rich in fat. The diet is referred to as ketogenic diet.
Side Effects of Cutting Out Carbs
Remember, carbohydrates are essential for proper functioning of the brain and the body; as they are an important source of energy. It is not healthy to cut out any essential element from your diet completely. These days, manufacturers are trying to cut down carbs in various food products like muffins, yogurt, etc. Those who cut down carbs from diet have to stay away from a lot of healthy foods including fruits and vegetables. They are likely to develop vitamins or mineral deficiencies. They may have to face low energy levels and excessive tiredness. Deficiency of fiber in diet can affect the digestive system seriously. People may suffer from constipation and bad breath due to lack of fiber in diet. Children on ketogenic diet may suffer from constipation, low energy levels, developmental disorders, health problems due to high cholesterol, etc.
Instead of excluding carbs completely from your diet, you may cut out simple carbs (easily digested) and may include complex carbs (slowly digested) in the diet. Glucose, sucrose, lactose and processed foods like fudge, cakes, and candies are some examples of simple carbs. Complex carbs (like fruits, vegetables, bran, corn, cornmeal, oatmeal, wheat germ, pulses) help maintain stable blood sugar levels and keep you satiated longer. You can limit the intake of saturated fat and can increase the intake of good fat (olive oil, canola oil contain good fat). You can opt for low-fat versions of dairy products and other food products. Similarly, you can consume lean meat and fish to have sufficient and good protein. Carbohydrates promote protein function. So complete absence of carbs in diet can lead to several health problems.
Instead of enjoying the benefits of no-carb diet and then facing some health problems, one should think of enjoying the benefits of regular exercise and low-calorie balanced diet. Exercise promotes hormonal balance and weight loss. Including negative calorie foods in diet, having 5 – 6 small meals instead of 2 – 3 large meals, eating slowly, having dinner at least two hours before going to sleep, increasing your physical activity, leading a stress-free lifestyle, etc., are some of the simple ways of avoiding weight gain. Benefits of cutting out carbs are significant when low/no carb diet is used as a medicine. Diet without carbs, followed for extended period of time, can lead to severe side effects.