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The Low Carb Lie

The Low Carb Lie

Fitness journals often advice you to follow a Low-Carb diet. These diet fads seem to be extremely effective in reducing body fat. The problem is just: they’re not.

On April 17th in 2003, an overweight physician died due to an injury-induced blood clot in his brain. The name of this person was Robert Atkins. Robert Atkins was the founder of the Low Carb Diet. Prior to his death, Robert suffered from a history of numerous heart attacks, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Mr. Atkins was not a healthy human being, but a genius marketer.[1]

I’ve fell prey to the Low Carb diet trend before. For a period of one month, I’ve barely eaten any carbohydrates. I did lose some pounds originally, but gained it all back. On top of that I felt awful. I had to make myself a promise to never try this diet again.

The same story goes for numerous clients of mine: They achieve a motivating, short term weight loss. Followed by a rapid weight gain after stopping the diet.

The Low Carb diet doesn’t make any sense scientifically speaking and may even increase your risk of death. [2] But which diet should you rather pursue? And why you should play the long game.

Weight Loss Does Not Equal Fat Loss

At the beginning of my diet, I did lose weight rapidly. Over 5 pounds in the first week. I felt amazing and energized after watching the number on my scale. But a reduced weight is not what I was truly after. I wanted to lose belly fat. But in this endeavour, I failed.

Losing weight and burning body fat is not the same thing. At the beginning of my diet, my body was burning through its carbohydrate reserves. Carbohydrates bind to water in your body. If your body burns your reserve of carbs, you’re also losing pounds of water. This will make you lose weight, but not fat. [3]

I remember a client telling me that she’s simply not losing weight. There was no decrease in the weighing scale for weeks during my coaching. Then I asked her if she remembered her original goal, which was to fit in her old bikini again. This was a goal she did achieve a couple of days prior. My client reached her goal, but was blinded by the weighing scale.

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You should never care about a number on the weighing scale, and neither should your friends and family. You want to look and feel better. You want to lose body fat and not decrease an irrelevant number on your weighing scale.

    What About Insulin?

    Insulin is what most people fear when it comes to dieting. And it’s something that you truly should avoid, because it is the one hormone responsible for filling your fat cells. It’s also what Dr. Atkins wrote in one of his books ‘New Diet Revolution’ , where he entitled a whole chapter to the hormone that will make you fat. [4]

    But don’t believe that carbohydrates are solely responsible for an insulin release in your body. In fact, meat protein has the same insulin release as pure sugar.[5]

    Having said that, vegetarians have lower insulin levels than meat eaters.[6] If you put people on a Low Carb Diet, their insulin levels even increase. On top of that their LDL-cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, rises dramatically.

    A Low Carb Diet is not only inefficient, it is also not healthy for you. You’re increasing your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes while starving yourself.[7] Consumer Guide gave the Atkins Diet zero out of four stars for being “outright dangerous”.[8]

    Not even weight loss and regular exercise negate the disastrous effects of the the Low Carb Diet. You damage your body with this diet fad.[9]

    Diabetes – Preventable?

    As the Harvard Health Letter puts it in 2003: The Atkins diet is not a healthy way to eat.[10]

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    Partly because it can increase the risk for diabetes. There are basically two different types of Diabetes. Diabetes type 1 and Diabetes type 2.

    Diabetes type 1 is called the juvenile diabetes. Over 85 percent it occurs under the age of 20.[11] While a big part of diabetes type 1 may be due to genetics, eating animals was associated with an increased risk.[12] Not only in the diet of the infant, but also in the diet of their mothers during pregnancy and lactation.[13]

    This is based on the hypothesis of the increased rate of glycotoxins (AGEs) in the diet or the rate of paratuberculosis bacteria.[14]

    Diabetes type 2 is a common disease in our current day and age. What used to be merely affecting old people, diabetes type 2 was originally called senile diabetes, now even affects people in their teens. About 1 in 3 US adults have prediabetes. Yet only 1 in 10 know it.[15]

    Lifestyle intervention reduced the diabetes incidence by 58 percent, taking of the medicine Metformin reduced diabetes by 31 percent. This meant, that the lifestyle intervention was more successful in reducing the diabetes occurence than the drug metformin.[16] Also don’t forget about the side-effects on the drug – such as nauseau and diarrhea – which were nonexistent in a lifestyle intervention.

    In a study with 500 people, the high-risk test subjects that went on a full plant-based diet reduced the risk of diabetes occurrence by 100%. The authors concluded that ‘Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by changes in the lifestyles of high-risk subjects’.[17]

    Low Carb Forces Your Body In Survival Mode

    Carbohydrates are the most important fuel for your brain. We have evolved over millions of years with glucose as the preferred fuel for our main controlling organ. On the Low Carb Diet you’re facing a pure survival situation. Because of your body burning through your carbohydrate reserves, your brain is being set on red alert. Your nervous system is not getting the right nutrients that it needs.

    Following that survival situation, your brain is shutting down systems that are not important for survival. Your body has to minimize it’s energy expenditure, because it thinks that you’re starving. Your muscles will be fatigued more quickly. Plus you will have a difficult time concentrating. As noted in the journal of obesity, people on a ketogenic diet suffered a significant drop in cognitive performance.[18] After one week, the scientists noted that the mental processing and flexibility worsened to the level of modest neuropsychological impairment.[19]

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    To make matters worse, in a survival situation your body is even holding onto its fat storage, because fat is energy stored for scarce times. Times when your brain is in survival mode. This is the last thing that you want when you’re following a diet.

    Following a low carb diet is not sustainable. Yes you will lose some weight originally due to fewer calories in your diet, but it will be gruel and not effective.[20] You will not be able to keep the weight off in the long-term. Unless you’re willing to dramatically decrease your quality of life.

      The Crucial Switch

      Think long-term and think logically.

      You have to realize that you need to consume a proper amount of carbohydrates to achieve your full mental capacity. Once I’ve switched to more carbs in my diet, I’ve seen a tremendous improvement. I had more energy , trained more efficiently and lost more weight.

      I never imagined that I’d once write this advice. Following a Low Carb Diet was the best way according to my friends and fitness professionals to get a sixpack. But it doesn’t make sense scientifically speaking.

      Fats contain more calories pound for pound. Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, fat contains 9 calories per gram. You can consume twice the amount of carbohydrates to get the same amount of calories, as you will get by consuming fat. This means, that once I’ve made that switch to more carbohydrates, I was able to eat bigger meals without having to starve myself.

      I also felt fuller on a low fat diet. There’s only a few grams of fiber on a low carb diet. The initial phase of the Atkins diet only contains about 2 grams of fiber per day, that’s less than 7% of the minimum daily recommendation.[21] There are veggies and some fruits in the low carb diet, but this is definitely not enough to feed a healthy bacterial culture in your gut. Having a healthy microbiome influences your health, your well-being and also your cravings. I realized that I had fewer cravings for sweets on a low fat diet. I also felt more satiated.

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        Play The Long Game

        If you’re currently following a Low Carb diet you should ask yourself: Is this truly working? Are you losing fat or are you just losing water? Tip: Use tape measurements to make sure that you’re on the right path.

        Instead of advising you to completely alter your nutrition and following the next diet trend, I want you to make a new approach. You need to play the long game. Realize that your weight loss will not come over night. Never buy into professionals that guarantee you immediate results. They’re trying to steal your money.

        Instead of following a new diet fad, I want you to focus on incrementally changing your diet for the better. This far outweighs the results of a rapid diet change and eliminates the Yo-Yo Effect. Focus on eating more good foods instead of cutting out unhealthy foods.

        Try to eat a little bit healthier today than you did yesterday. And tomorrow? Simple, do the same thing again. One year from now you will not be able to recognize yourself in the mirror. Eat two apples for a snack today instead of one. Ask for an extra portion of carrots in the restaurant. Over time your gut microbiome will change, you will crave healthier foods and you will feel energized.

        Realize that your weight loss will still not come easy and fast. But it will be way easier than starving yourself and putting your body in survival mode. Play the long game.

        To watch a fully animated, free video on that topic from the author, click here: The Low Carb Lie – How To Diet Successfully

        Reference

        [1] Atkins Death Report: Rival Diet Doc Leaks Atkins Death Report
        [2] Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine 68(2001):761.
        [3] Archives of Internal Medicine 112(1963):87
        [4] Atkins, RC. Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution. Avon Books, 1999.
        [5] Peter Petocz: Insulin Index of Food
        [6] NCBI: Taiwanese vegetarians have higher insulin sensitivity than omnivores
        [7] World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer: a global perspective. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research, 1997.
        [8] Berland, T and L Frohman. CONSUMER GUIDE Rating the Diets. Publications International, Ltd., 1974
        [9] Research Gate: Unrestricted Paleolithic Diet is Associated with Unfavorable Changes to Blood Lipids in Healthy Subjects
        [10] Harvard Health Letter 28(2003):1
        [11] NCBI: Chapter 1: Epidemiology of Type 1 Diabetes
        [12] NCBI: Nutritional factors and worldwide incidence of childhood type 1 diabetes.
        [13] NCBI: High meat consumption is associated with type 1 diabetes mellitus in a Sardinian case-control study.
        [14] NCBI: Maternal intake of fatty acids and their food sources during lactation and the risk of preclinical and clinical type 1 diabetes in the offspring.
        [15] NCBI: Awareness of prediabetes–United States, 2005-2010.
        [16] NCBI: Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin.
        [17] NCBI: Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance.
        [18] International Journal of Obesity 19(1995):811.
        [19] International Journal of Obesity 19(1995):811
        [20] Obesity Research 9(2001):1S
        [21] Gastroenterology 118(2000):1233

        More by this author

        Florian Wüest

        Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

        The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

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        Last Updated on September 18, 2020

        7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

        7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

        Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

        Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

        1. Exercise Daily

        It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

        If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

        Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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        If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

        2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

        Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

        One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

        This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

        3. Acknowledge Your Limits

        Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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        Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

        Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

        4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

        Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

        The basic nutritional advice includes:

        • Eat unprocessed foods
        • Eat more veggies
        • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
        • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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        Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

          5. Watch Out for Travel

          Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

          This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

          If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

          6. Start Slow

          Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

          If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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          7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

          Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

          My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

          If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

          I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

          Final Thoughts

          Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

          Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

          More Tips on Getting in Shape

          Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

          Reference

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