The Norman Transcript


July 13, 2014

Are low-carb diets really healthy?

NORMAN — Q: Are low carbohydrate diets really beneficial for weight loss?

A: Let me start by saying that the most important diet is a healthy one. This means to have a well-balanced intake of all nutrients, even carbohydrates.

Carbs are an essential nutrient that your body needs to function. Carbohydrates provide energy for your daily activities and ensure that everything from your brain to your muscles function properly. Nutrition experts recommend that a healthy diet consist of about 50 percent carbs.

The point of any diet is weight loss. With a low-carb diet, weight loss is likely to occur, but not for the reason that most people assume.

Low-carb diets, at the beginning, have a diuretic affect. This means that the body will lose water, causing a person to see a lower number when they step on the scale.

The problem is that the weight will be gained right back once the body becomes accustomed to receiving small amounts of carbs. People are likely to get frustrated when the weight they lost so quickly in the beginning of a low-carb diet starts rapidly returning.

Another reason for weight loss is that the body is not getting enough carbs to produce all the energy it needs to function on a daily basis. It must find the energy from somewhere else. The longer someone is on a low-carb diet, the more the body will need to dip into its energy stores to keep everything functioning properly.

A big part of a low-carb diet is that they are very high in protein. The reason for this is because the body finds its second energy source from protein stores or what are more commonly known as muscles.

Most people assume that when they are losing weight it is fat, but if you cut the body’s main energy source off, it will turn to the muscles. The body cannot function properly while using fat for energy, therefore when you are losing weight on a low-carb diet, you are keeping your fat stores but losing muscle. This is not typically what people have in mind when they want to be healthier.

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