The effectiveness of a low-carb diet for burning fat and losing weight has been a source of controversy for years. Learn how to tell fact from fiction.
Carbohydrates are the main cause of excess weight. If you have decided to lose weight and are considering cutting back on carbohydrates in your diet, you are on the right track to reduce body fat.
Experienced bodybuilders are familiar with the benefits of low-carb diets and know that if you follow all the nuances, you can reduce your fat percentage without losing muscle mass. But many novice athletes doubt the effectiveness of such nutrition, because they believe in erroneous judgments and outright myths, which we will now analyze in more detail.
MYTH # 1
Reducing carbohydrates in the diet affects muscle loss.
At the beginning of a low-carb diet, the glycogen stored in the muscles is depleted, causing the water content in the muscles to drop. As a result, the muscles decrease in size.
A temporary decrease in muscle water and a decrease in muscle volume is forcing many people to abandon a low-carb diet, as they believe they will now. However, after a few days, the body adapts to the new diet, begins to produce glycogen from other sources and store it, and fill the muscles with water.
Low-carb, high-protein diets do not cause muscle loss.
What’s more, protein-rich foods have a positive effect on muscle gain. The more protein enters the body, the greater the potential is created for gaining muscle mass. With a lack of carbohydrates, the body begins to break down and process fats, using them as a source of energy. In turn, when a large amount of body fat is burned, ketone bodies are produced. The body needs them for fuel, preventing muscle breakdown. In addition, they reduce hunger.
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Therefore, by combining a low-carb, high-protein diet with a well-designed exercise program, you will be pleasantly overwhelmed by the amount of fat lost and muscle gain.
Prefer animal protein such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Add to the diet and sports nutrition – protein, casein.
MYTH # 2
A low-carb diet lowers energy levels, making you weak.
Indeed, people involved in high-intensity sports (long-distance running, cycling, swimming, etc.) have a decrease in endurance indicators.
However, it must be borne in mind that in power sports, the energy system works somewhat differently. While endurance athletes burn a lot of muscle glycogen, bodybuilders use ATP and creatine phosphate as energy sources.
If you usually eat a lot of carbohydrates, and then switch to a diet low in carbohydrates, then in the early days you may feel a lack of strength and energy. Do not be afraid of this phenomenon – in a few days your body will get used to the new diet, and the discomfort will disappear.
Do not do multi-repetitions or do too many sets per workout, work at a moderate pace. In this case, the reserves of strength and energy will not be depleted.
When exercising during the low-carb diet, do no more than 15 reps in one set.
Add creatine to your diet. He is able to become a source of strength and energy for the most productive workout.
MYTH # 3
If you follow a low-carb diet, you need to give up carbohydrates altogether.
Of course, there are extreme diets that completely eliminate carbohydrates. But for bodybuilders, “low carbohydrate” means only eating about 2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per day. In other words, for an 80-kilogram person, the daily intake of carbohydrates will be 160 g.
You do not completely give up carbohydrates, but this does not mean that you can eat them whenever you want.
It is better to consume them in the morning, preferring complex carbohydrates. For example, oatmeal, whole grains, sweet potatoes, etc. It is also advisable to include about 60 g of carbohydrates in your post-workout meal, but only simple ones that can be absorbed quickly. For example, white bread, white potatoes, sucrose, dextrose, etc. Never eat carbohydrates before bed, otherwise they will inevitably turn into fat.
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Every two weeks for three days, reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the diet so that their amount per day does not exceed 100 g. As a result, you will deplete the level of glycogen in the muscles and further accelerate the process of burning fat. Also, during this period, exclude the use of carbohydrates after training.
MYTH # 4
On a low-carb diet, you feel hungry more often than on a normal diet.
Carbohydrates aren’t the only source of satiety. In fact, a high-protein diet gives you the same feeling of fullness as a high-carb diet. What’s more, it is known that eating high-protein foods, compared to fatty foods or foods rich in carbohydrates, reduces the feeling of hunger by 3 times! This is because high-protein foods stimulate the release of the YY peptide, which signals the brain to feel full.
By keeping your food high in protein, you can relieve hunger for a long time.
Increase your protein content to 40 g for each meal, and 20 g is sufficient before training.
Eat a protein-rich meal every two to three hours a day to ensure you feel full regardless of your calorie intake.
MYTH # 5
Eating a low-carb diet means you can eat fatty foods all the time.
Yes, the most common low-carb diets allow for fatty foods such as bacon, sausage, butter, etc. But bodybuilders are better off avoiding these foods with a low-carb diet.
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In the most popular low-carb diets, fatty foods are added so competently and organically that a person does not even feel that he is on a diet. You can, of course, indulge in bacon or mayonnaise, but it is better to choose foods that are either low in fat or at least with healthier fats.
Fat is very important as it helps maintain testosterone levels. If you eat healthy fats in moderation, your fat stores will not increase.
MYTH # 6
Consuming additional dietary fat on a low-carb diet raises cholesterol levels and is detrimental to health.
Bodybuilders need to consume small amounts of fat, which is high in fatty acids. Athletes who consume saturated fat have increased testosterone levels. At the same time, fats do not harm health – if, of course, the calorie intake is observed.
The saturated fat found in pork, beef, and chicken does not raise bad LDL cholesterol.
Replacing carbohydrates with any type of fat reduces blood triglyceride levels and increases the level of another cholesterol that a person needs – HDL. Saturated fats, compared to unsaturated fats, raise the level of this cholesterol much more.
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Avoid foods that contain trans fats like chips, french fries, margarine, cakes, etc., as trans fats have a detrimental effect on the body.
On a low-carb diet, bring your fat content closer to 30-40% of your daily calorie intake. Include healthy unsaturated and saturated fats from beef, eggs, dairy, fish, pork, lamb, and duck in your diet.