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One Reason To Love Low Carb Diets, And One Reason To Hate Them

In yesterday’s newsletter, we talked about low-fat diets and their pitfalls. The key takeaway was that, while low-fat diets might help you lose some weight, cutting out too much fat from your diet can lead to hormonal imbalances in both men and women. Our bodies need healthy fats and even some dietary cholesterol to thrive. 

Great. So if low-fat isn’t ideal, low-carb must be the way to go. This way, you still get plenty of the healthy fats your body needs for optimal hormonal health. By going low carb, you are cutting out the macronutrient group responsible for blood sugar spikes, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Low-carb seems like a no-brainer. 

A low-carb approach to dieting has also been popular for quite some time. The Atkins low-carb diet was first published in the 1970s by Dr. Robert Atkins and gained immense popularity in the 1990s. 

The 90s were all about the Spice Girls and low-carb dieting, but for some reason, we have still gotten collectively fatter and sicker over the past few decades. Is low-carb not the solution after all? And if so, why? 

One possible explanation might be that low-carb diets are too restrictive and can sometimes lead to disordered eating patterns or what is commonly referred to as yo-yo dieting. If someone is cutting out carbs from their diet to lose weight, they may be able to stay disciplined enough to adhere to those restrictions in the short term. 

We love low carb diets, as long as you don’t binge eat afterwards

However, once motivation runs dry, many people will binge eat the same foods they worked so hard to restrict. This is why many people quickly regain the weight they lose on a diet. In this case, people will lose weight using a restrictive diet, promptly regain the weight plus a little extra, get frustrated, and diet again just to regain the weight again, and so on. Hence the term yo-yo dieting. 

In one study, researchers found that participants on a low-carb diet were more likely to binge eat and slip into disordered eating patterns than participants that weren’t on a diet. The study’s authors point out that participants were more likely to experience significant cravings for the same foods they were trying to cut out of their diets. It turns out that having hard food rules can have unintended negative consequences. 

The key takeaway? Low fat is bad for your hormone health, and low carb may lead to binge eating and yo-yo dieting, so where does that leave us? It is important to be cautious of any overly restrictive dieting approach. If your nutrition plan requires you to dig deep and really grit your teeth to stay compliant, the approach you are using is probably not sustainable.

Small, incremental changes are the best way to make long-term, sustainable improvements to your health and body composition. Have a little patience and start making those small changes now. Don’t wait for Jan 1 to dive into a ‘crash diet’ that will lead to nothing but short-term results and, ultimately, frustration.

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