In today’s post, we want to cover why going without carbohydrates is counterproductive and also share concepts that will help you create an efficient and sustainable fat loss plan.
In the world of fat loss, diet plans such as Atkins or Ketogenic (or keto for short) have become household names that people gravitate to.
The Atkins Diet is a popular ketogenic or low-carbohydrate eating plan developed in the 1960s by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins. The Atkins diet restricts carbohydrates while placing an emphasis on a diet including mainly protein and fats. Ever since, there had been many diets that surfaced, adopting the Atkins protocol while inputting their own twist to it.
Ultimately most of them still fall under the concept of an extremely low or no carbohydrate diet. No doubt, zero to low carbohydrates have positive health and performance benefits. For people suffering from health issues such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases as well as people who are into endurance sports, zero to low carbohydrates works well.
This article addresses those who strength train and problems start to surface with the combination of training methods and a low carbohydrate diet.
The Problems with A Low Carbohydrate Diet
Here’s the bottom line: If you are strength training and the body is deprived of carbohydrates, it has to derive energy from another source to keep you going. If sufficient fat is present in the diet, the body will draw its energy from ketones that are derived from the process ketosis.
However it is an extremely slow process and comes nowhere close to carbohydrate as the primary source in the replenishment of energy for the next set. Think of carbohydrates as water from a flood and fats as hot molten sludge from a volcano, with water being very viscous and flowy and hot molten being very dense and slow. Which of these would reach its destination first?
Here are three problems which are the result of zero to low carbohydrates for the strength training individual.
1) Impaired Performance in the Gym
Performance in the gym will suffer tremendously as you will find it hard to lift the weights you did as compared to while you were on carbohydrates. If you are on a caloric deficit, you will lose your muscle mass as holding on to muscle mass is very inefficient and all your body cares about in a calorie deficit is trying to survive. A performance drop off allows the body to get rid of the extra muscles so it can survive. As a result, your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) drops and you burn less calories.
2) Inability to Carry Out Daily Functions with Clarity
Although bodybuilders and physique models look great from doing such diets, most physique athletes are not able to maintain their current fat percentage if zero to low carbohydrates is the diet they chose.
Further investigation reveals extreme mood swings and absolute lethargy for such athletes. In fact, many cannot wait to go off their current diets. This is because the brain is not able to operate with clarity. A lack of carbohydrates prevents the brain from getting the glucose required. With all remaining carbohydrates depleted to push through the strength training, the brain is left with very little to function.
3) Stagnation in Fat Loss
Another highly underrated and not frequently talked factor is how low carbohydrates affects the body at an endocrinology level that will lead to a stagnation of fat loss.
The absence of carbohydrates causes cortisol and testosterone ratio to go out of whack. Cortisol is known as a hormone that causes breakdown. This can come from food or amino acids down (muscle tissues). Testosterone on the other hand is responsible for the transportation of nutrients to the muscles which make this anabolic (building up). If the cortisol: testosterone ratio is out of whack then it means there is way more breaking down then building up. There is a net deficit which equates to muscle loss.
The absence of carbohydrates also lowers T3 levels (Thyroid). T3 is responsible for blood glucose management and metabolic function. Your entire body is made up of cells, an impaired metabolic function means your body cannot function normally to detox, repair and build up and losing fat is therefore the last of the body’s concerns.
Stay tuned to our next article where we break down for you how we can use carbohydrates to our advantage to create a sustainable and effective fat loss phase.