4 Things To Consider When Going Low Carb
Like with every approach to your nutrition, there's an element of trial & error when it comes to whether or not it will work for you and have the impact you desire.
Going low on your carbohydrate intake is no exception.
It works for some, and it is simply unnecessary for others.
What Does Low Carb Mean?
It just means eating less carbs, right?
Technically, it does. However "low carb" will vary person to person, when you take into account overall calorie requirements, weight, metabolism, activity levels etc.
Generally speaking though, low carb can be defined as anything less than around 150g per day, or in other words, around 600 calories.
Should You Go Low Carb?
There is the chance that you could very well benefit from an approach that sees a much higher intake of fats & proteins, whilst maintaining a lower consumption of carbohydrates.
Like I said earlier though, it can also often be unnecessary for some people. However, some of us do see more success when it comes to fat loss, when we utilise this approach.
Those of us who find ourselves storing a lot of excess weight around the mid section, live fairly sedentary lifestyles with minimal activity, and have a history of over consuming highly processed carbohydrates, might see some great results from adopting this method.
On the other hand, for some of us, it may just be a care of focusing on the QUALITY and SOURCE of our carbs, without feeling obliged to overly restrict them.
If a low carbohydrate diet is something you're considering however, then here are 4 considerations to make before and throughout the process.
1. Making Up Your Calories
When going from a diet which includes a fair share of carbohydrates across your day, it's worth noting that by reducing them significantly, you're also leaving out a lot of calories, depending on how prominent carbs were of course in the first place.
Whilst this might seem a good thing on the surface, should your calorie intake drop too low, it can cause all sorts of other issues, such as energy drops and impacts on your overall mood.
Not too mention the fact that a severe calorie restriction can lead to major stress on the body. Not something we can count on being too sustainable when it comes to long term fat loss.
It's highly recommended when making the decision to restrict carbs, that you look to replace some of those lost calories with fats & protein from quality, natural sources.
2. Calories Still Count!
These do still matter in the end when it comes to fat loss. Whilst it's near impossible to pick out an exact number, it's still worth being mindful over.
Even though a food might be healthy and nutritious, it is still possible to over eat on it. Whilst you don’t want to be eating too little, you also don’t want to be eating too much.
Nothing to worry about however, just something worth keeping in mind when you’re reaching for calorie dense foods like nuts & seeds.
The good old “thumb sized portion” for fats should keep you about right with this.
3. Watching Your Energy Levels
Stored carbs in your body are like a contactless debit card. Quick and easy to use.
Compare that to fats, which are more like a pocketful of £1 coins, in that it requires a bit more effort and energy to use.
When carbs are available and in fairly high amounts, your body will use them easily for energy. When not so much, it’ll turn it’s attention to stored fats, which takes a bit more energy to use.
Hence, the temporary slight dips in energy, while your body adapts to the change.
Stay well hydrated, keep up your protein at every meal, and ensure your giving yourself enough time to rest and recover, and this shouldn’t be too harsh.
4. Stress Levels
That word stress again..
If you're finding yourself particularly stressed out for long periods of time, then be careful and mindful of your approach to carbohydrates.
Opting for a low carb approach when going through difficult times can often leave your efforts without reward.
Stress is a call to action on the body. It's a signal that something requires the body to have energy. When this happens and carbs are low, our bodies will turn to the liver to release the carbs it has stored, and break them down for energy. Leading to blood sugar levels spiking. Something we want to minimise when going low carb in the first place.
And if you have really lowered your carb intake, to the point where liver stores are low, the body will look to break down muscle tissue, for the proteins that make it up, for its energy.
The end result is the same, a fluctuating blood sugar level in your blood stream, including all the consequences of this such as cravings and energy dips.
When feeling particularly stressed for any duration of time, it may be more impactful to focus on the quality of your carbs, rather than the sheer amount to begin with.
Focus on single ingredient, naturally sourced foods such as potatoes, quinoa, oats etc, minimising your intake of breads, cereals and other sugary sweets and biscuits.