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While the low carb movement has waxed and waned in popularity since the Atkins revival of the late 90s and early 2000s, most folks now assume that carbohydrates are inherently fattening. Health-conscious diners order bunless hamburgers, skip the baked potato side dish, and send the bread basket back to the kitchen. Are carbs less important than protein, fat, and the many micronutrients that contribute to our health?
Can eating an appropriate amount of carbs actually help you look, feel and perform your best? As a weight loss strategy, cutting carbs (while reducing the total number of calories) clearly works pretty well for some people. If it didn’t, then Atkins would have never been popular in the first place. You see, most of us require some level of carbohydrates to function at our best over the long term. In other words: Your metabolism might slow, your stress hormones go up and your muscle-building hormones go down.
In order to function properly and to maintain an appropriate metabolism, our body produces an important hormone called T3. T3 is the most active thyroid hormone and is incredibly important for blood glucose management and proper metabolic function. Low T3 levels can lead to a condition called euthyroid sick syndrome, in which people are constantly cold and sluggish.
A landmark study, known as the Vermont Study, found that T3 is very sensitive to calorie and carbohydrate intake. In addition, the Vermont Study found that another hormone, reverse T3 (rT3), is also sensitive to calorie and carbohydrate intake. Finally, French researchers examined four calorically equal diets (2800 calories in this case), lasting 1 week each. Thyroid hormones are important for more than just weight loss; they also have profound effects on our overall health and energy levels. Research consistently shows that people who exercise regularly need to eat enough carbs or their testosterone will fall while their cortisol levels rise. In a study in Life Sciences, men who ate a high carbohydrate versus a low carbohydrate diet for 10 days had higher levels of testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin, and lower levels of cortisol. Once again, when the subjects ate a low carb diet, their testosterone (and other anabolic hormones) went down, while their cortisol went up. And, after following a low carb diet for just three days, only two of the six participants were able to complete the cycling test!
In 2010, researchers reconsidered the same question — this time in relation to intense exercise. We now know that eating too low-carb for too long can cause significant disruptions to many hormones. This seems especially true for women, whose bodies may be more sensitive than men’s to low energy or carbohydrate availability (perhaps because of the evolutionary importance of having enough body fat and nutrients to sustain a pregnancy).
While organs like our gonads or thyroid make hormones, Mission Control of our hormone production system is the central nervous system (CNS), i.e.
Our hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which sit in the brain, are exquisitely sensitive to things like energy availability and stress (which can include life stress and exercise stress). In hypothalamic amenorrhea, hormone levels plummet, and the cascade is felt throughout the system. In addition, we’ve already seen that not eating enough carbohydrate tends to increase cortisol levels. Your HPA axis regulates functions such as stress response, mood, digestion, immune system, libido, metabolism and energy levels.
And your pituitary in particular is responsible for synthesizing and secreting growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, prolactin, LH, FSH and other incredibly important hormones.
T3 levels and reverse T3 levels stayed the same with high and moderate carbohydrate intake. In this case, the low carb diet increased muscle breakdown, because severely low carbs lowered insulin levels. When you get enough carbs to meet your needs, you replenish muscle glycogen and create an anabolic (building-up) hormonal environment. Conversely, when you don’t eat enough carbohydrate, muscle glycogen is depleted and a catabolic (breaking-down) hormonal environment is created, which means more protein breakdown and less protein synthesis. And aren’t fat-adapted athletes performing just as well as athletes who eat a lot of carbs? The logic seems so clear and appealing: High carbs lead to insulin which leads to fat storage. Indeed, many people who try low-carb dieting are initially pleased by an immediate weight loss… which is mostly water and glycogen. In this review, both diets had about the same weight loss, changes in waist circumference, and measurements of several metabolic risk factors (blood pressure, blood glucose, insulin). As our name implies, at Precision Nutrition we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all dietary recommendations.
Around 25% of you will do really well increasing or reducing your carb servings by just a little bit. This is what we call eating for your body type, and we outline our recommendations here. In fact, ketogenic diets are actually prescribed for people with epilepsy, as they seem to reduce their symptoms and cut down on seizure frequency. Very sedentary people, as well as people who are extremely metabolically dysregulated (e.g. Two of the five participants got tired sooner when eating low-carb (taking 48 and 51 minutes to conk out, respectively). While on average the performance of the cyclists did not vary whether they were eating high carb or high fat diets, there was one interesting difference, highlighted by the study authors in a review study done twenty-one years later.
After a week of adaptation to the low-carb diet, most cyclists felt that they could more or less perform normally… except for their sprint capacity, which never seemed to recover while restricting carbs.
But before we get too carried away in the opposite direction and start carb loading, let’s remember this basic truth: Most of us are not elite athletes. So while studies will show that on average athletes tend to perform better with higher carb intakes, this is not a universal rule. For many years, we thought the secret to maintaining our weight was to eat lots of carbs and reduce our fat intake. Then the pendulum swung, people hopped on the low carb, high fat bandwagon, and it was party time with almond butter, bacon, and heavy cream.
Most of us will look, feel, and perform our best when we balance a reasonable amount of lean protein, quality carbs, and healthy fats.
Our recommendations let you be flexible, enjoy the high-quality foods you love, and adjust your intake to your own experience, goals, and unique needs.
In it you’ll learn the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle strategies – unique and personal – for you. September 16, 2014 by Natalie Jill 6 Comments Share909 +1 Tweet Pin37Total Shares 946Is low-carb the way to go? Ari is a best selling author of the cutting edge fat loss book Forever Fat Loss and the creator of the Metabolism Supercharge program. In this article, I am going to introduce you to what may just seem like some very radical ideas. That low-carb diets have no scientifically proven beneficial effect on fat loss, and that well-designed higher carbohydrate diets achieve equal or better fat loss, and typically better performance, energy, and health too. That the weight loss many people achieve on low-carb diets is not due to carbohydrate restriction, but is actually due to shifts in the amount of whole foods and protein a person eats. Not only is low-carb eating not particularly beneficial, but in many cases, if you do it long enough, it can result in severe hormonal dysfunction and a slower metabolism. In the 1980s and 1990s, low-fat mania was at full force and the nation was swept with fat-o-phobia. Low-carb gurus told us that if we want to be healthy and avoid becoming fat and diabetic, we better send back the bread basket, opt for the “sugar-free” and “low-carb” snacks, order salad instead of mashed potatoes, and order hamburgers wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun.
But about three years ago, I began to discover that the science conflicted with many low-carb dogmas.
This culminated in a rather remarkable realization: Nearly every single premise for why we should avoid carbohydrates is, to put it simply, wrong. Now, there are far too many myths about carbohydrates to cover in just one article, so here I’ll just focus on one. The logic is basically this: Carbs cause your body to secrete insulin, which is a “fat storing” hormone, and the more often you stimulate insulin by eating carbs, the fatter you get. The research has proven over and over again that when low-carb diets are compared to higher carb diets of equal calories, low-carb diets offer no benefits whatsoever for fat loss. Not really.  As it turns out, there are dozens of studies which have found this conclusion, going back several decades. Even when we compare higher carb diets to extremely low carbohydrate diets, we see the same thing: No difference in fat loss.
A relatively recent trial examined the effects of 3 diets consisting of roughly 1400 kcals each for 12 weeks.
Another recent trial compared two 1500 calorie diets, a moderate carbohydrate diet (40% carbohydrate) and a very low-carb ketogenic diet (a tiny 5% carbohydrate).


Virtually every metabolic ward study that has been conducted on the subject since 1935 has repeatedly shown that calories are equal; there is no difference in fat loss between low-carb and high-carb diets. There is however, still one glaring thing we have to account for: the many thousands of people who have lost lots of weight by following low-carb diets. The simple fact is that low-carb diets do indeed frequently work to cause weight loss in overweight people and can radically transform a person’s health as a result of that weight loss. Thus it is an unquestionable and indisputable fact that low-carb diets can result in profound weight loss and improvement of health. The part that is highly questionable and disputable is whether that weight loss has anything whatsoever to do with carbohydrates.
Here’s why: Most low-carb diets (such as “Paleo” diets, for example) are not only built around avoiding carbs, they are also typically whole-foods diets, and high-protein diets. In other words, adoptees of these diets typically go from eating a lower protein diet with lots of processed foods, to a diet of mostly whole-foods with a significantly higher protein intake. In other words, whether you eat lots of carbs or very few has no bearing on how much fat you lose.
Basically, what’s really going on with low-carb diets is this: You shift from processed foods to whole foods, you increase your protein intake, and you simultaneously remove a major food group from the diet. Now, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with higher protein intakes and whole foods diets causing this effect. The presence of one, two, or all of these three factors will cause a spontaneous reduction in caloric intake, and will induce weight loss, which in turn, will profoundly improve health in those who are overweight. While there is a place for very low-carb (ketogenic) diets in the treatment of certain disease states (i.e.
Low-carb diets can contribute to amenorrhea and menstrual irregularities, as well as a condition called “low T3 syndrome,” where a person has chronically low levels of active thyroid hormone (T3). In this condition, a person may have normal thyroid gland function, but is still exhibiting all the usual symptoms of hypothyroidism like fatigue, weight gain, cold hands and feet, and a body that is extremely resistant to fat loss.
I have personally dealt with numerous clients who have wrecked their metabolic function from years of low carb eating.
Several studies have now confirmed that very low carb diets can dramatically reduce T3 and increase Reverse T3.
I have seen absolutely miraculous effects with many my female clients–especially the ones who come to me struggling with fatigue and hormonal issues on their low-carb diets–simply by shifting them to higher carbohydrate intakes. It turns out that the hormonal dysfunction in hard-exercising, low-carb eating women can be fixed with some simple and tasty medicine: CARBS! I hope that at this point, you can see that a lot of the ideas around carbohydrates that have been promoted by the low-carb movement are not only wrong, but in some cases, actually backwards. 4) The weight loss many people achieve on low-carb diets is not due to carbohydrate restriction. 6) If you’ve been eating low carb for years and now find yourself with all the typical symptoms of a slow metabolism, liberating yourself from low-carb dogmas and eating more carbohydrates (from whole foods) is powerful medicine.
Ari Whitten is a fitness and nutrition professional and bestselling author of the cutting-edge fat loss book, Forever Fat Loss. Natalie is also an author and speaker who frequently helps others define, grow and monetize their brand in the online space.
Oh also I must say that while low carb did help with weight loss at first I always felt tired on it. In addition, long term practice of fad diet can be hazardous to health as these plans usually consist of unbalanced diet such as high protein diet or very low calorie diet.
In the long run, this process will accumulate harmful substances such as ketones that are hazardous to health. The appropriate way to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight is through a healthy lifestyle, including the adoption of a balanced diet and be physically active. The infographic discusses some common myths and misconceptions associated with low carb lifestyle.
Embedding the infographic on your blog or website is very easy and you'll find instructions how to do it here. In fact, the infographic shows that low carb diets restrict rather than ban the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in carbohydrates. One misconception is that low carb dieting raises cholesterol levels while in fact, the infographic shows that the blood sugar and cholesterol levels of dieters tend to improve. Other research confirms that ketogenic (ultra-low carb) diets reduce T3 levels as rapidly as starvation.
Meanwhile, when following the higher carb diet for three days, all six participants were able to complete the test.
In this particular study, subjects eating the low carb diet (where 30% of their calories came from carbs) saw a drop of 43% in their testosterone to cortisol ratio.
You end up with low levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. But research shows that lowering carb intake can affect your muscle mass even if protein remained constant.
In this study, the researchers also measured urinary nitrogen excretion to see how the diets affected protein breakdown.
Not eating enough carbohydrates can lower T3 levels, disrupt cortisol to testosterone ratios, interfere with a woman’s delicate hormone balance, contribute to muscle loss, and prevent muscle gains.
Low carbs keep insulin low, which should get you effortlessly lean while you enjoy chicken wings, salmon, eggs, and butter. In this study, subjects who ate a moderate carb diet (40% calories from carbs) reported significantly better mood, and lost about the same amount of weight as those on a ketogenic low-carb diet (5% calories from carbs). However, the ketogenic diet also increased LDL cholesterol and inflammatory markers and subjects who were on it felt less energetic. One recent study asked: Do low carb diets work because they restrict carbs or because they tend to increase protein?
Even in athlete trials, where the vast majority of participants do better on high carb diets versus low carb diets, you’ll almost always find a few who perform better on a low carb regime. You might assume that if you aren’t losing fat going kinda low-carb, you should go full ketogenic.
They’re what we know is best, based on careful research and our experience with 20,000 clients to date. Long-term Effects of a Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet and a Low-Fat Diet on Mood and Cognitive Function.
Modification of immune responses to exercise by carbohydrate, glutamine and anti-oxidant supplements.
Effects of slimming and composition of diets on V02 and thyroid hormones in healthy subjects.
Basal concentrations of anabolic and catabolic hormones in relation to endurance exercise after short-term changes in diet. Influence of dietary carbohydrate intake on the free testosterone: cortisol ratio responses to short-term intensive exercise training. Effect of Carbohydrate and Noncarbohydrate Sources of Calories on Plasma 3,5,3-Triiodothyronine Concentrations in Man. Isocaloric carbohydrate deprivation induces protein catabolism despite a low T3-syndrome in healthy men.
Effect of glycogen availability on human skeletal muscle protein turnover during exercise and recovery. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Diets Versus Low-Fat Diets on Metabolic Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials. Relatively high-protein or ‘low-carb’ energy-restricted diets for body weight loss and body weight maintenance? The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: preservation of submaximal exercise capability with reduced carbohydrate oxidation. You may want to hear what guest blogger (also my good friend), PhD student, co-author of the 12 week super shred program Ari Whitten has to say about the problems with low carb diets. Fat, we were told by all the experts, was bad for us, and we should all strive to eat low-fat diets. The low-carb movement was built on the notion that the low-fat movement had not only failed to address rising rates of obesity, but that eating a higher carbohydrate, low-fat diet was actually making the obesity epidemic worse.
And as my beliefs about carbohydrates were proven wrong by the science, I slowly began to change my views.
The one we’re going to discuss here is perhaps the most important of all the myths around carbohydrates–the one that really sparked the current trend of villainizing carbohydrates and insulin, and ignited the popularity of low-carb dieting. And even pretty logical—if you are constantly boosting a “fat storing” hormone several times a day, that’s probably what is making you fat. The diets had the following macronutrient proportions: a) very low fat and high carb (70% carb), b) moderate carb (50% carb), and c) very low carb (4% carb). The point is that when compared to well-designed higher carbohydrate dietary interventions of equal calories, low-carb diets are consistently shown NOT to have benefits beyond those higher carb diets of equal calories. It is of course, possible to cherry pick the studies to support either the notion that low-carb is the best diet, that low-fat is the best diet, or that vegan diets are the best.


Simple: They are both scientifically proven to spontaneously (without conscious awareness) lower overall calorie intake. The primary factor that is actually responsible for fat loss is protein intake, not carbohydrate intake. To the contrary, these two factors are the major players responsible when someone actually does achieve fat loss success on any diet.
This is very significant because thyroid hormone is the major regulator of your metabolic rate. The reason why is basically this: In a healthy person with a strong metabolism, inactive thyroid hormone (T4) is converted to active thyroid hormone (T3) in abundance. And now you don’t just have to take my word for it, a new study lends credence to exactly what I’ve been doing with my clients.
A 500 calorie excess on either a low-carb or high-carb diet will cause the same exact amount of fat gain. Well-designed higher carbohydrate diets achieve equal or better fat loss, and typically better performance, energy, and health too.
It is due to a decrease in total calorie intake driven by the shift to more whole foods and more protein. In many cases, if you do it long enough, it can result in severe hormonal dysfunction and a slower metabolism. If you’ve severely hindered your metabolic function from years of doing fad diets or diets that restrict major food groups (low like low carb, or veganism), I highly recommend my Metabolism Supercharge program.
He is also the creator of the Metabolism Supercharge program, which is designed for the specific purpose of breaking through the thyroid and hormonal issues that sabotage fat loss efforts, and rewiring your metabolism for effortless fat loss.
Not for just a week but always and I followed low carb perfectly with daily exercise and weight training. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Low or no carbohydrate diet will force the body metabolism system to use protein and fat as the main source.
Detoxification diets which claim to help purify the body system can also cause side effects. Physical activity will help to tone up your muscle and faster the weight reduction as muscles burn more calories than fat cells.
Many people believe that these diets ban the consumption of carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and alcohol. The infographic is licensed through the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives License which allows redistribution both commercial and noncommercial as long as it is unchanged and credited to Low Carb Foods.org. Some alcohols have high amounts of added sugar, and the liver processes alcohol immediately to neutralize its effect. The good news is that low carb diets encourage the consumption of foods that produce good cholesterol.
It busts common misconceptions and myths that can ruin one's diet or make it more difficult to choose the right diet.
The low-carb diet included 71 grams of carbs, and the high-carb diet included 533 grams of carbs.
And of course, rT3 correspondingly rose on the low carb diet, but not on the standard or high carb diets. And in addition to considering the effect of their diet on hormones, researchers put them through some performance tests. It also does not claim to be a treatment or cure for any disease. If you have a serious medical condition, see your doctor and take appropriate action. Pretty simple hypothesis, and it seems to make sense, so what could possibly be wrong with it? Secondary to that, the removal of a major food group from the diet, and the shift to more whole foods that takes place on most intelligently designed low-carb diets, all act to drive down calories consumed, and thus cause weight loss.
The point however, is that the same exact effect–the same amount of fat loss–is achieved on a high carb low-fat diet that is equally rich in protein and whole foods. But let me take this one step further than just saying that carbohydrate restriction is a basically worthless dietary habit: In many cases, low-carb diets actively cause severe harm to hormonal and metabolic function. What happens either in a state of calorie restriction of chronic carbohydrate restriction is that instead of being converted to active thyroid hormone (T3), T4 starts being converted into Reverse T3 (RT3). Not just fatigue and weight gain, but hair falling out, loss of the menstrual cycle, and all sorts of symptoms of hormonal imbalance. It showed that in exercise-induced hormonal and cellular dysfunction in female rats, the simple addition of more carbohydrate in the diet produces a radical transformation of their hormonal profile, restored healthy menstrual cycles, and rejuvenated the damaged mitochondria of the cells (the cellular energy generators that power the metabolism). The effects of variation in carbohydrate, protein, and fat content of the diet upon weight loss, blood values, and nutrient intake of adult obese women. Weight gain and fatigue despite low carb eating and regular exercise for many years (it worked great the first few years).
Detox diets do not help you lose weight heavily as the majority of such diets contain laxatives that cause diarrhea which can lead to dehydration, body mineral imbalance, and create digestive problems.
Other misconceptions are that low carb diets raise cholesterol levels and cause different medical problems such as heart disease and kidney disease.
The goal of these diets is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates consumed by the dieter so that it is easier for the body to handle and process them.
Moreover, triglyceride levels fall, and people benefit even more from being on a low carb diet. Moreover, many of these claims are not scientifically sound, and taking them for such can be harmful for health. The problem, however, is that for the next couple decades, rates of obesity and diabetes continued to increase just as they had been doing before.
Nevertheless, the story–according to the newly emerging low-carb gurus–was that really fats were not to blame, and that not only were fats not to blame, but carbohydrates were the major cause of the obesity epidemic.
My diet was basically chicken and broccoli, almond butter with celery, eggs and sausage, steak and asparagus, turkey and avocado, and of course, lots and lots of salads. So a particular individual losing lots of weight and transforming their health from going low-carb is not uncommon. These hormonal and metabolic issues are becoming epidemics now with the popularity of low-carb diets over the last decade. At a given level of calories, you will gain or lose the same exact amount of fat on either diet.
Furthermore, low carb diets only restrict the consumption of fruits and vegetables rather than recommend avoiding them altogether.
High levels of triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. The infographic shows that people on a low carbohydrate diet do not consume excessive amounts of protein.
This is pretty much how I ate for a decade—tons of protein and fat, and avoiding carbs as much as possible. It is likewise not uncommon to find people achieving the same levels of fat loss and health transformation from eating a high-carb low-fat diet, or an ultra high-carb vegan diet.
So as levels of active thyroid hormone (T3) drop and Reverse T3 accumulates, your metabolism slows down and you can get hypothyroid symptoms.
Dieters are encouraged to eat non-starchy vegetables and fruits such as sea vegetables, hearty greens, cranberries, and blackberries. In fact, I even advocated this way of eating to my clients for years, and wrote about it in the original version of the Supershred program. To illustrate the beneficial effects of low carb dieting, the infographic shows that many people end up consuming more fruits and vegetables than people on a high-carb diet. Some studies have even shown that diets high in carbohydrates and protein do not have any harmful effects on kidney function or health. When carbohydrates are not available, the body's metabolic rate slows down, and dieters may gain rather than lose weight. This has a number of health benefits, and a growing body of research indicates that eating vegetables and fruits is important for maintaining good health. They do not cause kidney problems such as electrolyte imbalance, kidney stones, or low filtration rates.
They contain essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber that protect the body from different chronic illnesses, including certain types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke. High protein diets appear to be a safe weight loss method, except for people with advanced kidney disease and those suffering from diabetes. Eating fruits and vegetables lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels and is an effective weight management tool.




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Comments Do no carb diets cause headaches

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