Controlling how much we eat is still important even on a low carb diet!
Low carbohydrate (carb) diets have become a much followed food trend amongst those wishing to lose weight, improve diabetes control or their overall health. There are many different kinds of such diets but the common factor amongst all of them are recommended higher levels of fat, protein or both to compensate for the reduced carbohydrate intake. Opinions continue to differ on both the effectiveness and safety of low carb diets with the NHS continuing to advocate a lower fat and higher carb diet.
Friends who have lost weight on the Atkins diet have attributed their success to not having had to count calories and feeling fuller when compared with other diets, helping them stick to the plan. Feeling fuller on more fat and protein is easy to understand. Fat takes longer to digest than other foods whilst foods high in protein are naturally satisfying. But I’ve never been able to shrug away the fear of eating more fat. It’s more calorie dense than carbs so in theory, we have to eat less if we substitute fat for carbs to obtain the same amount of energy. Is there a maximum amount of fat we can eat, beyond which it becomes dangerous? What happens to the excess? Don’t we just store it?
Proponents of a very low carb diet argue that it stimulates lower levels of insulin release, the hormone responsible for promoting fat storage. They further argue that low levels of insulin removes the need to count calories as very little fat storage occurs, therefore preventing weight gain.
But insulin is not the only hormone involved in fat metabolism and storage. This article – Dietary fat can’t make you fat – uh yeah it can is a good read if you are considering a low carb diet for weight loss. It confirms what I have always believed. Weight loss can only happen when you burn more energy than you consume regardless of the path and diet you choose.
But two things are for sure. A significant reduction in “empty” carbs (cakes, biscuits, sweets, crisps, pastries and white flour) with a moderate increase in healthy fats and protein (olive oil, avocados, nuts, oily fish,lean meat, eggs, dairy) and a switch to wholegrain carbs will keep you fuller. If you eat less than you burn, you’ll lose weight. If you exercise, you’ll raise your metabolism and so you’ll burn even more energy. Eat less, move more. That’s my Mantra.