Low carbohydrate diets can have some unfortunate side effects associated with them.
Lowering your carbohydrate intake too drastically can take a toll. This is especially true when making a drastic cut.
The effects can be more than just annoying. Side effects such as dizziness, general fatigue and constant hunger cravings are common with a low carbohydrate diet. Even when done properly, low-carb diets can slowly grind the body down and cause you to falter in your workout regimen and daily activities.
Carbohydrates are a major fuel for the body. When they are removed without proper nutritional compensation, the effects are severe and body fat weight regain is highly likely.
Small portion consumption is a great way to keep your metabolism high without sacrificing essential macronutrients like carbohydrates. Nevertheless, you also can begin to cut out calories through a tapering of carbohydrates.
It is important for you to time the cut well. It is also important you taper your carbohydrates steadily and in small portions. Shocking the body with 70-100% removal of carbohydrates can cause a rebound effect due to cravings.
A smart move is to attempt halving your bread for one or two meals per day. You can also remove carbohydrates from meals later in the day while keeping your early meals the same.
Cutting down on carbohydrates can cause a drop in overall energy levels. This is why reducing carbs in meals later in the day is recommended.
By continuing your carbohydrates in morning meals, you guarantee yourself sufficient energy throughout the day. You also will stave off the effects of carbohydrate cravings at dinner time.
Endomorphs and Protein Increase
Endomorphs have the hardest time melting away body fat given their general physiology. In general, their body maintains calories and carbohydrate-related fats better than other body types.
This can be a frustrating hurdle to overcome for the average endomorph. But, making a drastic leap into a no-carb diet can be disastrous, despite what some dieting fads claim.
The fact is that carbohydrates are hard to escape and are also important to the body. Even those endomorphic individuals who have high sensitivity to carbohydrates need to ensure they receive some form of carbs now and then. The trick is to do so in the proper proportions and, if possible, before activities or workouts.
Upping the percentage of protein in proportion to the decrease in carbohydrates can help as well. The body works harder to digest and absorb protein than it does carbohydrates. This work keeps the metabolism at elevated levels.
The more protein you substitute for carbohydrates, the more your metabolism will burn fat. However, do not remove too many carbs too often or your body will go into survival mode when any carbohydrates are taken in.
The effect will be effort lost as the body turns those carbohydrates into fat cells in a desperate attempt to protect its fuel source.
Ectomorphs and Protein Increase
Ectomorphs generally have higher metabolisms than other body types.
This can make it difficult to know what to do with low-carb diets. There are still benefits to lowering carbohydrate intake for ectomorphs.
Just like with endomorphs, some ectomorphs have carbohydrate sensitivity. This causes their body to hold onto the fat produced by carbs.
Ectomorphs who follow a low-carb diet should consume carbohydrates before activities and workouts to lower the fat-producing effect. Ectomorphs should also up their level of protein, even more than endomorphs. This is because their body often needs to make use of more protein to create and maintain muscle growth.
Bodybuilding and High Protein
No matter what your body type, lowering carbohydrate levels is an important aspect come competition time.
Lowering your carbs will help shed water weight and body fat weight which can both compromise an otherwise cut look.
Bodybuilders, just like anyone else, should not remove carbohydrates completely unless for short periods directly before competition.
While in a general cycle, a bodybuilder should simply up their amount of protein to around 50% of their diet. The carbohydrate percentage should be close to equal with the fat content. 20-30% for both carbohydrates and fats is usually the proper amount to maintain.
You should keep natural nitrogen levels high enough to stay in the positive.
The general concept is to lower but not remove carbohydrates. Without them, bodybuilders will often run out of energy in their workouts.
Upping the protein levels and keeping a low-but-steady amount of carbohydrates can help avoid any fatigue or slacking in the weight room.
If you want to lose weight, have the positive effects of a low-carb diet and still get all the carbs you need, carb cycling is the only answer.
Carb cycling is a guaranteed way to have all the bonuses of a low carbohydrate diet without the drawbacks. You can sidestep the hunger cravings and dizzy spells.
To avoid the plateaus of a low-carb diet, simply pick random and semi-frequent days when you up your carbohydrate intake. This keeps your body out of a “survival” mode where it begins to hold onto all the carbohydrates you give it. In other words, it reminds the body it is not starving due to lack of carbs.
By keeping this survival mode at bay, you can avoid the fat-mongering reaction the body naturally enacts when lacking in carbohydrates.
The general concept for having a proper diet helping with weight loss while building muscle is simple.
Eat frequently, lower your carbohydrates across the board and pack on the protein.
With your metabolism raised and your sugars decreased, you will naturally lose weight. Of course, this all must be supplemented by workouts or general daily activities.
It is equally important to not starve your body. A starved body becomes desperate and nothing scares the body more than a lack of carbohydrates. By keeping the proper percentages and cycling well, you're on the path to success.
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 they act as 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. Carbs are also used 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, of course, do not want their muscle to be eaten away.
Another unfortunate side effect of lowering carbohydrates is general dizziness, fatigue and lethargy. This is not surprising since carbs act as fuel.
Even though the effects are sometimes subtle, many on a low-carb diet will notice a dip in their workouts or general activities. They will also lack general “get up and go” in their daily life. So...
Now that you know what you need to avoid, how can you take these steps 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 remove them from 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 steer clear 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, you will likely experience the positives of a low carb diet. Not only that, but you will also probably avoid the problems of low-carb diets 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.
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.
With some people, 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.
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 the 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 Results
Sometimes, you may have trouble knowing what it is you are looking for when it comes to diet results.
With a low-carb diet, what you are trying to get is a lowering of body fat without any 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 than 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