Health eating advice from healthcare professionals has always promoted eating a balanced diet that includes starchy foods (rice, bread, pasta) and fruit and vegetables. This is quite a carbohydrate rich diet.
If everyone was meticulous about what they ate, people would only consume enough carbohydrates to meet their energy output with some for storage and a healthy portion of fat without being overweight. Eating more that the body needs leads to weight gain as excess is converted to fat for long-term storage for energy.
However, there is now a backlash against eating so many carbs especially when it comes to losing weight. The question is why do people on a low carb diet lost weight faster than other diets?
According to Chloe Miles, Dietician and BDA spokesperson, it’s all to do with water, “When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores it as glycogen in the liver and muscle.
“Your muscles store approximately 500g and your liver approximately 100g and it’s thought that every gram of glycogen in the human muscle is bound to 3g of water,” she says.
Removing carbohydrates from a diet long-term means that the body uses the glycogen already stored and won’t store any more resulting in losing weight.
Carbohydrates is a large food group which is made up of fibre (pulses, vegetables, whole wheat), sugar (chocolate, biscuits, fruit, honey) and starch (rice, potatoes, pasta, bread), the fibre and starch providing a good form of slow releasing energy. Sugar on the other hand gives a quick energy boost, which the body won’t burn off easily.
However, there are some who feel that a low carb diet is not practical on a daily basis. Without the presence of carbohydrates in the body, the process of converting fat to energy is a lot slower which can lead to fatigue.
This can also lead to a build-up of ketones where diets feel weak and nauseous.
It is never a good idea to cut out carbs completely to lose weight, Chloe Mills suggests reducing portion sizes of carbohydrates instead. This will reduce the side effects of eating no carbs while seeing gradual weight loss that can be maintained.