‘Eat a low carb diet!’. ‘Keto works wonders!’. ‘Carbs will make you fat!’. Sound familiar? Not only do low carb diets not make sense, they don’t work in the long run. Diets in general don’t work long term as the body has powerful mechanisms in place that make you want to eat more food so that you maintain homeostasis. And carbs, they don’t make you fat as we have seen in a previous post (see post). Only fat makes you fat. So what happens to the body when we eat less carbs and calories?
What Happens When We Eat Less Carbs?
When food is restricted there are a number of circulating hormones that affect the hypothalamus (part of the brain that makes you hungry) to want to eat more. It is thought that carbohydrates play a part in this. Reducing the intake of carbs (or exercising more) reduces glycogen stores in the liver and muscles (glycogen is stored sugar/carbs). It has been shown in mice that this affects how much food is eaten.
What this would mean is that people who are on a low carb diet may lose weight in the short term, but hunger would win out in the end. This would cause low carb dieters to eat more food and put on weight.
In fact you can lose weight on a high carb diet. Studies show that in the long term people who eat a high carb diet gain LESS body weight and fat mass over 4 years than those with a lower carb diet. It has been shown that people who eat an additional 100 cal per day in carbs gained 80g less weight per year.
So when we eat less carbs we can see that we are going to put weight on in the long run. The Australian Dietary Guidelines state that the amount of carbs you should eat everyday is 60% of your daily amount of calories (total daily calories is approximately 2000 calories). Eating a balanced diet will not only be beneficial in the long run but will help you maintain your weight.
J Galgani and E Ravussinm ‘Energy metabolism, fuel selection and body weight regulation’, Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Dec; 32(Suppl 7): S109–S119.