Q: Should I try to eliminate carbs from my diet to lose weight? -Allen M.
A: Carbohydrates are an important part of any healthy eating plan. Carbohydrates are a greatly mis-understood nutrient and vital to the success of a healthy eating weight loss plan. There are three different thing that provide us energy; carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Every gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories, protein 4 calories as well, and fat 9 calories. The body is fueled by glucose, all the food we eat eventually is broken down to glucose. So regardless of whether you eat carbs, proteins, or fats your body will eventually be breaking it into glucose. Carbs are more easily broken down into glucose than proteins or fats. Now if you don’t provide your body with the glucose it needs from carbohydrates it will break protein down from your muscle which is a big mistake in a healthy eating plan.
Remember that if you are trying to create a healthy eating plan for weight loss you are trying to do a couple things. The first thing is to get your body to burn more calories than it is taking in so that it will utilize fat as a source of energy and your body fat will decrease. Second to keep your metabolism high you need to be eating foods that will maintain or even increase lean muscle mass which fuels your metabolism. Muscle is what burns glucose. If you start to lose muscle your metabolism will decrease. If you eliminate carbs you are going to decrease lean muscle mass.
A lot of people ask why people lose so much weight when they eliminate carbohydrates from their diet. The primary reason is the loss of water weight from the depletion of glucose or glycogen. (Glycogen: the broken down form of glucose that is stored in the muscle) Every gram of glycogen in the body stores 2.4 grams of water. If you get rid of glycogen you can see that you would lose more than twice the amount of water, thus losing primarily water weight. Now this gives you an indication of why weight isn’t always the best judgment of success. So if you are depriving your body of carbs you generally aren’t losing fat and you definitely aren’t getting healthier all you have done is gotten rid of essential life supporting sources of energy and the water that is attached to it. Also when you start eating carbs again your body immediately starts storing them as fat, just a side note.
The key is not to eliminate carbs from your diet; it is to improve the carbs that you are eating. If you are trying to lose weight you should be eliminating simple carbs that are found in sugar. Sugars make it very difficult to release fat because the effect it has on insulin which encourages storage of glucose instead of the burning of glucose and remember fat must be broken down into glucose for the body to get rid of it. All white sugar or simple sugars should be decreased or eliminated from your diet and that includes fruit. Fruit should be decreased to one time a day and mornings are the best for eating fruit. Remember this is just during the weight loss phase of a healthy eating plan. The carbs you should be eating are vegetables and whole grains. They should be eaten in conjunction with protein at each meal.
A healthy eating plan for weight loss requires eating the right things in the right proportions. Our bodies need carbs, proteins, and fats to survive. Weight loss isn’t about cutting out one particular source of energy, but rather finding the healthiest sources and eating those.