In a past post, I went over a scholarly review that set out to determine if there was an optimal window for nutrient intake after exercise; they concluded that at the end of the day, what was most important for muscle growth and repair was meeting your “total daily carbohydrate needs”.
Today however, I’d like to relate this idea of adequate carbohydrate intake to today’s craze with crash and low carb diets, and the many “quick fixes” to weight-loss we see today. Sure you may be able to drop 10 pounds in your first week but the question you must ask yourself is…is it truly FAT – loss?
And to that question, I have found an answer for you.
As I was reading one my favorite fitness books, I came across a statement that inspired this post :
The weight lost during crash diets and low carb diets can be attributed to the depletion of muscle glycogen, relative dehydration, and the breakdown of proteins in muscle (muscle loss) and liver.
In English? The weight loss contributed by a crash or low carb diet may be the result of nothing more than dehydration and muscle loss.
But how does this happen?
The author, Brent Brookbush, explains it in 4 physiological steps…
Step 1: Bye Bye Stored Glycogen (storage form of sugar)
When there are enough of circulating sugars, your body can resynthesize glycogen to be used for energy through out your day. However, if there are inadequate amounts, your body will quickly deplete your remaining “sugar stores” .
Step 2: To Retain Water, Sugar Must Be Present
Water and sugar are stored together in both your muscle and liver tissue . Thus, depletion of sugar contributes to a loss of body water simply by the nature of their relationship – the body cannot retain any water unless there are sugars present!
Step 3: No Carbs? What’s Next in Line as a Fuel Source…
The breakdown of fat for energy is a much slower process. So, when your sugar stores are depleted – your body must turn to protein to accommodate your energy needs. Unfortunately, the most plentiful source of protein is found in one place only – muscle tissue .
Step 4: I’m So Tired!
Lastly, a heavily restricted diet, very low in calories or carbohydrates, “is going to result in fatigue” .
A lethargic physiology will utilize less efficient means to generate energy and diminish performance both in exercise and through out your daily activities.
And so my friends, if there is anything to take from this, is that there is a key difference between WEIGHT loss and FAT loss: real fat loss requires adequate carbohydrate intake and sudden weight loss may actually be a result of something detrimental to your health!
Remember this difference and try to focus more on the latter, as fat loss takes time and consistency. I know it may be difficult but it is definitely worth your sanity.
Oh and before you go, the book is called Fitness of Fiction (Volume 1): The Truth About Diet and Exercise. I highly recommend this. It takes the science of exercise physiology and explains it in plain English, something I hope I can do just as well for you guys. Check it out on Amazon!