The benefits of a low carbohydrate diet are a great way to shed body fat pounds. Carbohydrates are often turned into fat in the body. The reason for this is that carbohydrates are a power fuel for the body. When engaged in high-intensity activities, the body burns either carbohydrates or protein. Obviously, the burning of protein that could be used for muscle is not what you want. So keeping some level of carbohydrates is important for the body to function properly. While lowering carb intake is good for most people, lowering carbohydrates does not mean removing carbohydrates outright. So how can you gain all the pluses of a low-carb diet without having the negative effects?
What You are Trying to Avoid
While you want the benefits of losing excess water weight and body fat, you do not want to put stress on your body. Losing all your carbohydrates does just that. By removing a healthy amount of carbohydrates from your body, you are adding stress on necessary bodily functions. Carbohydrates transport nutrients and hydration throughout the muscles. Carbohydrates are also utilized as fuel for the body during exercise and activity. This especially true during high-intensity cardiovascular workouts like sprinting, boxing, or any other extended bursts of energy. The body must feed off one item or another and carbohydrates are often the most easily converted into energy. When there is a lack of carbohydrates, the body must look elsewhere for the energy. This often means that the body will take away protein that is needed to cultivate and maintain muscle. Most people do not want their muscle to be eaten away of course. Another unfortunate side effect of lowering carbohydrates is the general dizziness, fatigue, and lethargy. This is not surprising as since we mentioned before that the carbs are fuel. Even though the effects are sometimes subtle, many on a low-carb diet will notice a lacking in their workouts or activities. They will also lack general “get up and go” in their daily activities. So now that we know what we want to avoid, how can we avoid them while still getting the positives of weight loss and a leaner look?
High and Low Days
One of the best ways to keep all the positives of low-carb diets without incurring the negative is keeping a high/low schedule. It is sometimes referred to as a Zigzag diet as well. Regardless of its name, the diet is simple to follow. While you should lower the overall amount of carbohydrates, you should keep “high carb” days. This strategy works in just the way you would expect. The most common method is to pick one day out of the week (or 3-6 days per month) where you allow yourself to load up on carbohydrates. The reason this strategy is so effect is that it gives the body what it desires, while still working at optimum levels. Your body will crave carbohydrates as you take them out of your diet. When this happens, you will begin to feel cravings creep up. Avoiding cravings is almost impossible. The reason they exist is simply that your body is asking for something it is not getting. In this case, it is carbohydrates. By having a cheat day, the body receives the sugars and fats it is craving. Having a steady cheat day will allow your body to stay away from a constant “survival mode.” This mode is where your body attempts to hold onto every last calorie of carbohydrates. When a sensible diet, consistent activity, and a high/low strategy is followed, one will likely experience the positives of a low carb diet. Not only that, but they will likely avoid the problems of the low-carb diet as well. Remember that you can also remove the high calorie days if you are attempting to cut weight for a competition of some kind. Make sure to be careful not to overextend, however, as the body will react poorly after too long.
Allow a Malleable Diet
Every person’s physiology and biology is different. That is a simple fact one must keep in mind when attempting dieting strategies. For some, a high/low diet is a simple and effective method. For others, lowering carbohydrates and upping protein intake is all that is needed. For others, neither strategy works all that well due to general body type and carbohydrate sensitivity. The important fact is to not become disillusioned because of difficulties early on. Fine-tuning a diet is sometimes necessary for the proper results. It is no different from workout regimens or medical needs. Each person is likely to have specific dos and don’ts that are specific to their needs. If you find that a high/low strategy does not work well for you at first, try making your cheat days less regular. If that does not work, try to opposite and make them more frequent. If the strategy causes you to gain body fat, then perhaps you lowered your carbohydrates too drastically too quickly. The body has trouble with both excess and lacking nutrients. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to pin down the reason you are not gaining perfect results. Remember that moderation is a great starting point. Once you have your diet moderated properly, you can then experiment with low-carb strategies.
How to Know You’re Getting the Results
Sometimes you may have trouble knowing what it is you are looking for when it comes to diet results. When it comes to a low-carb diet, what you are trying to get is a lowering of body fat weight without negative side effects like fatigue. What you should be able to achieve with a low-carb diet that includes exercise is a shedding of excess water weight and overall body fat percentage. The results can take up to a month before noticeable results occur. What is even more important that the visual results are how you feel overall. When you execute a proper reduced-carb high/low diet, you should be leaner and more cut without a lack of energy or activity level. If you are experiencing fatigue or general lethargy, then you likely need to up your level of carbohydrates, or experiment with your carb/protein ratios.