When Is Low Carb Eating Necessary? 

While is true that low carb eating can prove a good strategy in some circumstances or for some individuals, you may also want to make an informed choice, and really know if it applies to you.

Otherwise you will just haplessly drift around, and eventually fall for some ludicrous claim made by some charlatan.

It's important to note that most people don't need to follow a low carb diet to maintain a good level of leanness - around 10% body fat for men or mid-teens for women.

Most people should be able to achieve this level of leanness without necessarily restricting their carb intake.

Therefore, unless you are carbohydrate sensitive or resistant to insulin, using such a drastic method is a mistake because you will surely fail in the long run.

Restricting carbohydrates can be done successfully for a limited period, but the result will be always the same: eventually dieters give up, and go back to their poor eating patterns.

Ironically, for this reason the low carb diets such as Atkins became so popular. If they help you to lose a few pounds for a while, who cares what happens next? And what happens next is obvious because we are designed to crave carbohydrates

On the other hand, if you are a competitive bodybuilder, or you are preparing for a photo shoot, this method can help you tremendously to put the final touches on your body before the event.

But this is only a temporary strategy, and no nutrition savvy athlete would restrict carbohydrates on a continuous basis.

So let's see why in some situations low carb eating may be a better choice:

1. When limiting carbs, you normally eat more protein. Consequently, your metabolism will increase for the simple fact that protein has a higher thermic effect – approximately 30%. In other words, for each 100 grams of protein your body burns 30 only to digest it.

Therefore, your net caloric intake will be reduced (at least for a while). More than likely, fat consumption will follow suit, especially when dieters are absurdly advised that lard can be savored ad libitum, so overall calories may go up.

As our feeding behavior is highly influenced by the volume that we see in our plate, your waist will progressively get larger because dietary fat is energy dense and highly palatable.

2. Carbohydrates are easily converted into glucose, so reducing them helps to control insulin secretion. This may prove particularly beneficial for the majority (about 75%) of grossly overweight folks who suffer of insulin resistance.

It's important to note that visceral fat is associated with insulin resistance, so if your fat is distributed more proportionally, chances are that you are among the lucky 25%. (Conversely, some lean folks may not tolerate very well a highish carbohydrate consumption either.)

Although research is far from conclusive, most short-term trials found indeed that low carb diets are superior than their high carb counterparts within six months.

This may be explained by the fact that most subjects used for these experiments are initially obese, and therefore more prone to insulin resistance.

However, the longer-term studies that reach one year, consistently failed to show any benefit of low carb eating for weight loss. Therefore, blaming insulin for making you fat is completely incorrect. 

3. Your muscles will be constantly depleted of glycogen, so when you train, your body will be forced to use more energy from its fat stores.

However, if your upper abs are not already visible (which means less than 12% body fat for men), it doesn't make any damn bit of a difference, especially if you don't keep an overall calorie deficit.

On a related note, if you are already fairly lean, and hoping that maybe some cardio would help you to get a full six pack abs, you will just spin the wheels for nothing.

Jumping on a treadmill and pretending that you exercise doesn't have almost any effect on adrenaline, which plays the biggest role in mobilizing the last ounces of fat. Which brings me to the next point...

4. Prolonged low carb eating (less than 20% of total calories) is an efficient way to mobilize stubborn fat (by inhibiting the alpha-receptors), and this was empirically known for generations.

Maybe for this reason, low carb or ketogenic diets (known also as the fish and water diets) were so in vogue in the early years of bodybuilding. 

5. Reducing carbohydrates, and increasing protein reduces water retention (every gram of glycogen holds about three grams of water).

The result is an improved muscle definition, and most bodybuilders or fitness competitors use this technique prior to their contests (before carbing up, of course).

So obviously, low carb eating can be a useful tool if you know how to use it. However, before embarking on any diet program educate yourself, and try to filter all the contradictory information.

See if it's applicable to your particular case. This will be time well spent, and will help you to avoid unnecessary frustration.

And remember, the most important variable that determines your weight is how much you eat, regardless of macronutrient composition. 

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