Low carb diets have been around for some time now and the idea behind them makes sense from a weight loss perspective. After all it is a proven fact that the way the body reduces it fat stores is when there is a calorie deficit. In other words the body burns more calories then it takes in when we eat.
Since we get the majority of our calories from carbohydrates it only makes sense that by limiting them in our diets we can lose weight. And it’s been proven to work, ten of thousands of people who have tried various types of low carb diets and lost weight proves that.
But how low carb should we go? Everyone’s body is different and finding what works best for each individual is not always easy. There is an optimum amount of calories the body needs to function each day. If we go above or below this level it can affect our metabolism, which is the engine that runs the body. It is a complex energy creating and burning system that affects every aspect of our lives because without it working correctly we can suffer from a variety of symptoms and conditions that if left unrecognized can have serious consequences to our health.
We all know what happens if we eat too many calories, we gain weight because the body stores those excess calories as fat. But what happens when our carb intake is to low? One of the first things that happens is the body responds to this sudden loss of energy by slowing down its metabolism. Not quite the desired affect someone who wishes to lose weight wants. This is a reaction that has evolved over thousands of years and is the normal response to a body trying to conserve its energy in a time of famine.
If our carbohydrate becomes to low the body responds even farther. A normal metabolic process known as lipolysis is accelerated. Lipolysis is the process by which fat is pulled from adipose tissue and broken down into two components, fatty acids and glycerol. These two components of fat are the main source of energy for the liver, cardiac muscle and resting skeletal muscles.
As our caloric intake decreases with a reduction of carbs the body turns to its fat stores for its energy supply. Lipolysis is the process by which this happens. The problems begin during the chemical process of lipolysis in which oxaloacetic acid that is normally used to transport acetyl coenzyme A is instead converted to glucose which the brain needs as its energy supply.
As the supply of oxaloacetic acid diminishes the fat oxidation process of lipolysis is unable to complete the liver converts the excess acetyl CoA to ketones in a process called ketogenesis. These ketone bodies are released into the blood stream and can lead to a condition known as ketosis. Ketosis is common in the malnourished and those who suffer from diabetes. Ketosis, if not treated, is a potentially fatal condition that first leads to a coma as the nervous system becomes depressed because of the blood pH drop caused by the ketones in the blood stream.
Low carb diets can lead to a drastic weight loss, but anyone attempting to use such a program should do so carefully. Cutting too many carbs from ones diet can have life threatening affects just as consuming to many calories and obesity do. Moderating the intake of carbs to provide the body the amount of energy to needs to function is a much better strategy then starving it of its most important energy supply.