There’s tons of bad diet advice out there, and while some diet myths are easy to see through—like that artificially created sweeteners are always better than sugar—others aren’t. Myths surrounding low carb diets can be particularly hard to see through.
Here are some myths we’d like to dismantle once and for all:
1. Low carb diets are hard to stick to
The common argument here is that low carb diets aren’t sustainable because they exclude many of the most commonly eaten foods.
Low carb diets might mean you can’t eat some common diet staples like bread and pasta, but you are still allowed to eat other foods until you’re full. This makes low carb diets much easier to sustain than low calorie diets, where you are often unable to eat until you’re full, especially during the first few weeks as your body adjusts to the new diet.
2. Most of the weight lost comes from water weight
Low carb diets might cause you to lose lots of water weight, but they have also been proven to cause a greater reduction of body fat overall than many other types of diets.
Perhaps the most important thing about this is the type of weight you actually do lose. Low carb diets are particularly good for getting rid of stubborn fat stuck around the liver and belly area. This is crucial because belly fat is often what people are trying to get rid of and it’s also the most dangerous fat on your body.
3. Low carb diets are bad for your heart
Low carb diets are typically high in cholesterol and fat, which are typically associated with heart disease. This is largely because of the low fat fad in the 90’s.
Most fat found in low carb diets is actually unsaturated fat, which is actually essential to your body’s ability to function and even to burn the fat you want to get rid of. And there is no evidence that low carb diets actually increase the levels of LDL cholesterol, the type of cholesterol commonly associated with heart disease.
5. Low carb diets cut out healthy plant foods
This myth really is the complete opposite of the truth. If you want to actually feel full and have enough energy to get through your day without consuming more than 50 grams of carbs you’re going to need to eat a lot of vegetables, seeds and nuts.
If you choose a less extreme low carb diet that allows for 100-150 grams of carbs each day you’ll still have room in your diet for plenty of fruit, which tends to have a higher carbohydrate count than vegetables.
6. “Ketosis” is a dangerous metabolic state
It’s easy to get away with spreading this myth because not many people know what ketosis actually is.
When you drastically reduce your carb intake to something like 50 grams a day your body releases a lot of fat from your cells. This fat floods the liver, which then starts producing ketones. These molecules can actually cross the blood brain barrier to provide energy to your brain when your body is starving or simply hasn’t had many carbs. This is actually really good for your body.
The harmful metabolic state is actually ketoacidosis, which is when your body gets flooded with enough ketones to turn the bloodstream acidic. This metabolic state only occurs in patients who have uncontrolled diabetes.
7. The brain needs glucose to function
This is one of the most common myths about carbs. While glucose can be used to power the brain and there are a couple small portions of the brain that require glucose specifically to function, almost every part of your brain can function just as well using ketones. Some parts of the brain even function better.
We don’t even need to eat glucose for the parts of our brain that can only run on glucose because of gluconeogenesis, a process which the liver uses to actually create its own glucose.
8. Low carbs will reduce your physical performance
Like any big diet change, switching to a low carb diet can reduce your physical performance during the week or two that it takes your body to adjust. After the first couple of weeks with your new low carb diet your physical performance will go back up.
Those of you who decide to follow a low carb diet that is also very high in protein will notice that your physical performance actually improves once your body adjusts.
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