It is okay to go on a high carbohydrate diets in most situations, trust that fact. But among carbs which is more likely to cause weight gain: sugar or kale? Both are carbohydrates but what is the difference? Why is one so good for weight/nutrition and the other if consumed in excess causes rapid weight gain? Let us discuss a few points to carbohydrates.
You can go high carb but not calorie dense
To adhere to my personal diet of high protein, high carb, targeted calorie diet I have to eat foods that are calorie sparse. By filling up my stomach I find it easier to eat less food. Weight, volume and calories affect the satiety foods provide. There has to be good ratios of those three things to feel full.
My experience with low carb
I read a fascinating book by Gary Taubes, “Why We Get Fat”. The entire premise of the book is that carbohydrates are the cause of weight gain. He garners studies, rationality and tells his readers carbohydrates are the primary source of adiposity(fatness). Immediately after reading this book I went low carb on my diet for a few months.
During my weight loss journey it did not affect the rate of my weight loss at all. I continued to lose 1-2 pounds per week but my diet was tougher to stick with because of the reduced range of foods. Eventually I returned to high carb and was quite satisfied with my undisturbed weight loss.
What I discovered…
For certain, quantity of energy metabolized overrides content of energy converted to energy. This is known as energy balance. Food turns to energy when metabolized and is then turned into fat. That is why we get fat. The issue with the low carb community is the promotion of carbohydrates being the primary source of fat gain rather than the energy input itself.
Out of the three macronutrients here is the order of potential fat gain per calorie:
- Fat: Fat to fat is the easiest conversion
- Carbohydrates: The body easily converts this to energy
- Protein: The body uses up protein to fuel muscle gain and fat loss
It makes sense that fat and carbohydrates are good to keep on the lower end of consumption and protein at higher amounts. The issues with it are activity and adherence…
Energy for activity is reduced on a low carb diet
I have found the more active I am the more I need carbohydrates. My appetite actually decreases when I am active. Even when that happens I force myself to eat a specified qunatity of carbohydrates because it uplifts my mood and helps maintain my energy into the next day. If I skip my carbohydrates just because I am not hungry I tend to feel less energetic the next day and tend to get hungrier.
Adherence to dieting is tougher on a low carb diet
As carbs go down by consequence fat and protein intake increases. Fat itself is not as filling as calorie sparse carbohydrates. Higher amounts of fat are easy to consume. With the limited range of foods fat becomes a primary source of food and if it is not kept below a certain calorie restraint(different per person) then fat gain happens quickly.
Foods that are high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates are much fewer than if carbohydrates were less restrained. Food diversity is decreased with a low carb diet. To eat the same things again and again and dread the bread is tough. Then, in addition, to constantly check for carbohydrates and protein to fat ratios is much more difficult. This is especially true when dining out with other people.
Just with calorie counting people keep telling me I need to not worry about my calories. I couldn’t imagine how I would be going low carb and having to sort everything on the menu. Well, my physician told me it is best for me to count calories my whole life due to my medication. That way I keep its side effects in check. I don’t tell people that when they see me lean and calorie counting.
Of course diabetes, an autoimmune prescription diet or other conditions which do not allow carbohydrates are absolutely valid reasons to go keto or low carb. In addition injuries which do not allow any activity warrant the possibility of using a lower carb diet. Injuries do not require you to go as low as keto. But if there is reduced activity carbs should be reduced as well.
A final consideration is severe obesity. We are talking at the level of “My 600lb Life” by TLC. Activity at 600lbs+ is pretty limited. Lower carb dieting will simply shed the weight off their bodies, especially from 800->400lbs as long as they keep calories low, protein high and try to regain activity. Eventually they may be able increase activity and convert to a higher carb diet for adherence & energy purposes purposes.
If you have these special considerations or maybe something else low carb is totally fine! There are books, blogs and influencers who are all about low carb diets. You can adopt the low carb doctrine and if health permits, eventually return to a high carb but healthy diet.