I often hear this time of year, “I am cutting carbs” in attempts to lose weight or shed fat. Yes, cutting out carbs will definitely result in a loss of body fat. When talking about carbohydrates we often focus on the refined and starchy carbs such as breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, biscuits, cereals. However, carbohydrates also include vegetables and fruit. In this article, I’m referring to the starch.
I have found personally that reducing my intake of sugary and starchy carbs has helped with my fat loss goals and has been an important part of sustaining my results. However, restricting carbs can also have negative consequences. Therefore, it’s important to listen to your body and make adjustments to your nutrition as needed.
When reducing your carb intake and focusing on eating more nutrient dense foods, you are naturally reducing the total amount of calories you consume. Yes, you will lose fat but here’s the problem: Your metabolism will eventually respond to this. And when calories go down, guess how your metabolism reacts? It slows down! Your metabolism is constantly adapting to everything you do. When you cut calories or carbs, it signals changes in hunger and cravings that make it even more likely you will want to eat more calories and carbs. It also may negatively affect your mood because eating carbs helps produce the “feel good” hormone serotonin. Limiting carbs for long periods may also elevate the stress hormone cortisol which can lead to increased cravings and impacts insulin levels in negative ways. If you are physically active, your energy and motivation levels may also be affected. This makes eating low carb unsustainable and leads many to the path of the dreaded yo yo diet rollercoaster.
So if going low carb is effective for losing weight, how do you maintain the right level of carbs in your diet AND keep your metabolism running at full speed?
You can do this by listening to feedback from your body. If you are feeling good and continuing to lose weight with plenty of energy, then you are doing fine. But if your fat loss has stalled or you lack energy throughout the day or hunger and cravings are a constant issue, THEN that’s your body’s feedback mechanisms working to make sure it has enough reserved fuel. When you push against the metabolism, it pushes back and compensates. One strategy is to periodically refeed your body with the carbohydrates you’ve been depriving it of. This carb refeed helps to provide the stimulus to ignite your metabolism. You can do this by cycling some low carb days with a high carb day to help control hunger and boost energy.
Also, when cutting carbs it’s important to increase protein and fats to help maintain lean muscle mass. And if your goal is to build muscle, strength and fitness levels then you should be eating more carbs in your diet especially around your higher training days. The trick is to use starchy foods to your advantage by finding the amount your body needs to keep your energy high, make sure you maintain your muscle and balance the hormones that affect hunger and cravings, but not so high that you slow fat loss down.
Everybody is different with unique circumstances. Your starting point would be shifting away from starchy, sugary carbs then make adjustments based on your results and your body’s feedback. This approach is more sustainable because rather than using a one size fits all approach or one that was just handed to you, you are figuring out what works for YOU!!
Still unsure of what to do?? Let’s chat! schedule a FREE Ditch the Yo Yo Session. We’ll focus on creating an action plan for you to help you move closer to where you want to be. We will discuss what you have tried in the past, where you might be stuck and create an action plan to help you move closer to where you want to be.