on Wednesday, June 10, 2009in Diets & Foods
A few years back, low carb diet plans were all the rage. Books like Atkins and South Beach were flying off shelves and claiming to be the best way to lose weight quickly. These days the novelty of low carb diets has somewhat worn off, but there seems to remain a confusion surrounding the role and importance that carbohydrates play in our overall well being.
I should preface this by stating that I am not a proponent of extreme low carb diet plans, and you shouldn’t be either.
Barring any specific specific condition or dietary intolerance such as Celiac disease, Crohn’s, Colitis, PKU or somehing of that nature, I always encourage balance, incorporating foods from all the food groups in a percentage that is optimal for health and physical performance.
Having stated that, I’ll explain the role that carbohydrates play in the proper functioning of our systems as well as highlighting the pros and cons of following a low carb diet plan.
The Definition and Function of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are comprised of sugars, starches and cellulose. Simple carbs such as table sugar, candy, refined foods and soda are absorbed very quickly, giving the body a jolt of energy as well as the subsequent crash. Complex carbs such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit are the superior choice as they take longer to digest and offer more nutrients and fiber.
Carbohydrates are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. They are the first source of energy fueling our muscles and brain and supply the energy required for essentials like heartbeat and the ability to breathe.
Now that carbs are defined and their function explained, we can examine the benefits and potential risks of extreme (20 grams or less per day) low carb diets.
1) Significant weight loss at a faster than average rate.
2) Improvement in Triglyceride levels.
3) Reduction in blood glucose levels for diabetics
4) Improvement in HDL – the ‘good’ cholesterol.
5) Decrease in blood pressure.
1) Fatigue due to low blood sugar levels.
2) Low fiber intake resulting in constipation.
3) Possible loss of muscle tissue due to protein being used for fuel.
4) Bad breath resulting from a state of Ketosis.
5) Irritability caused by neurotransmitter upset in the brain.
While weight loss plans that are on the extreme side can be effective in the short term, you’ll need to use your own judgment to decide if it’s right for you. Be wary of any diet plan that eliminates an entire food group and/or promises unrealistic results.
A weight loss plan should focus on overall health, well being, physical performance, balance and moderation. Cardio exercises, weight lifting exercises (or at least some form of resistance training), diet and recovery should all be included. Make your own informed and educated decisions based on scientific fact as opposed to hyped up advertising.Found this post useful and want more? Subscribe to our Blog feed
About TravisTravis Steffen is a Master Trainer and founder of WorkoutBOX. After years of experience training professional athletes and thousands of others just like you, he knows exactly what it takes to get you in serious shape. Follow his expert guidance and you're guaranteed to get amazing results.Want to hear even more of what Travis has to say? Keep in touch with him on Facebook and Twitter!
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