Pros and Cons of Low Carb Diets – Does Atkins Work?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding weight loss, mostly brought about by the drastic differences between different diets, all of which are promoted as safe and easy, but few of which live up to their promises.
One of the most popular diets is the low carb diet. The Atkins’ diet is a very popular low carb diet, which has been used successfully by many dieters. For this reason alone, it still gains many followers who like the idea of being able to eat fatty, protein rich foods as part of their weight loss program.
Why Do Low Carb Diets Work?
The reason low carb diets work, according to fitness expert Steve Turano, is not because you aren’t eating carbs. They work because you are eating fewer calories in the form of carbohydrates. Fats, proteins and carbs have calories. Fats have 9 calories per gram, whereas carbs and proteins have 4 calories per gram. So, when you reduce any of these (whether it is fat, protein, or carbohydrate), and you do not compensate by eating more of the other macronutrients, you’ll start consuming fewer calories and lose weight as a result. So, with the low carb diet, at the end of the day, you have simply eaten less, just as you do with any other diet. Nothing magical.
There are two great advantages in the low carb diets, though, that other diets do not have.
- You don’t experience the mental sacrifice and anguish that you do in other diets because while on a low carb diet your calories are not restricted. You can eat almost all fat and protein you want. Therefore you do not feel deprived. There is less of a “knee jerk” reaction because you can still enjoy many of your favourite foods, without thinking, “I can’t live without chocolate!” or whatever.
- The other benefit of low CARB diets as opposed to low FAT diets, is that they are very filling. Fat makes you feel full so you are more likely to stop eating sooner.
What Are the Problems with Low Carb Diets?
Steve Turano explains that there are three main disadvantages:
- Carbohydrates provide necessary sugars, which provide immediate energy for the body. People on low carb diets often don’t have as much energy, because the body has to generate sugars from fats and proteins. This is a slow process and it does not provide immediate energy to the body. The human brain is designed to run on carbohydrates, so a low carbohydrate diet means mental sluggishness.
- If you are on a low carb diet you have to go through life without eating bread, pasta, potatoes, or rice. That is a big sacrifice!
- Some of the science of the low carb diets does not work either. It is said that you are on a fat burning state called ketosis. But here is the question. When you are eating all this fat, and you still have fat on your mid section or your hips, how does your body know which of those two fat sources to utilize? Will it preferably burn fat from food or fat from body tissues? It does not discriminate. In other words, even if you are on a state of ketosis and you are burning fat all day long, your body still has to choose: Do I burn the fat I just ate or the fat that is around my stomach?
"You see, it still comes down to calories in and calories out", Steve concludes, "You still have to take in fewer calories than you burn up. If you do that, you will lose weight. And the easier way to do that is to be on a regular, balanced diet. Eat what you like, just eat less. Exercise a little more and weight loss will occur."
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