Tyler has been working as a certified personal trainer for over 10 years specializing in weight loss and functional training with women between the ages of 30 – 65. He also enjoys helping others become industry leading personal trainers through his website PTPioneer.com and YouTube Channel.
Dieting has been a hot topic ever since obesity or being overweight started to be an issue, there’s no doubt about that. But low carb diets took it to a new level. They took the world by storm.
There’s a huge hype around this type of diet right now. But are low carb diets better than other diets? Are they superior in any way? Do they help you lose fat faster than a traditional type of diet? Are they optimal for someone who is trying to get in shape?
We’re answering all that down below.
Low Carb Diets and Fat Loss
The reason low carb diets are so popular these days is because everybody who’s doing them sees massive fat loss, right? Well, not really.
You might see a bigger drop on the scale when you start to eat less carbs, hence the wrong conclusion. But that does not come from the fat you lose. Most, if not all of it, will be water weight.
The main thing that low carb diets do is to deplete the body and particularly the muscles from water and glycogen. That’s where the so-called fat loss comes from. In fact, you are not losing more fat, you are just flushing away an important amount of water weight from your body.
There have been several studies done and all show that low carb diets are not superior in any way to diets that are higher in carbs. The results show that as long as you follow a calorie-restricted diet, you will lose fat at the same rate, regardless of the carb intake. Regardless of the whole macro split for that matter.
So at the end of the day, it all comes down to calories in versus calories out, which is no surprise if you think about it.
In fact, Professor Mark Haub lost almost 30 pounds by eating just Twinkies and staying in a caloric deficit. So there goes the low carb myth. Sure, I’m not saying that’s a wise thing to do, but it proves that you can lose weight without restricting your carbs.
How does one look fit?
OK, now that we got that out of the way, let’s go back to the title of this post and talk about being fit. How do you go about achieving that fit, aesthetic look? It’s quite simple actually. Regardless if you are a male or a female, there are just two ingredients for looking fit: low body fat and good muscular development.
By developing your muscles and lowering your body fat percentage you will look fit. That’s all there is to it. It is not rocket science.
If you want to get even more specific about it, for women, getting that nice and sexy, goddess type of body is all about the waist to hip ratio. And it’s funny that people do these kind of studies, but it has been proven that a waist to hip ratio of 0.7 is considered to be the key to looking sexy and fit.
OK, so why do low carb diets get in the way of that?
The problem with low carb diets is that they kind of get in the way of working out effectively. A low carb diet will not allow you to develop enough muscle mass to have a fit, sexy look. You can’t really squat heavy enough to build your overall lower body, and glutes in particular, to the point where you get near that 0.7 waist-to-hip ratio if you are following a low carb diet.
And this brings us to the next point.
Low Carb Diets and Training
The blunt truth is that low carb diets are not optimal at all for healthy, active individuals. If you are working out and you are a healthy person, low carb dieting is not the way to go.
For developing muscle mass you need to follow a type of resistance training or routine. Namely, you need to lift weights which are heavy enough to activate and stimulate your muscles to grow.
Now, I know many of the women out there have this fear that weight training is going to make them look bulky. Look, it is so hard to build muscle mass naturally, even more so for a female, that you will never start to look bulky if you do some weight training.
On top of that, muscle mass is very compact and takes up very little space. Unlike fat which has much more volume to it. So if you think you are getting bulky, it’s happening because you are gaining more fat, not too much muscle.
Toning up will give you that nice fit, aesthetic and sexy looking, beachbody type of physique. So, don’t be afraid to incorporate at least 2-3 session of resistance training in your routine each week.
Like I mentioned above, muscles need a stimulus to grow and that stimulus is weight training. When you lift weights, your body, namely your muscles, use glycogen as the primary source of energy. Glycogen is a form of energy which is stored locally, inside the muscles, so that it gets put to work immediately when it is needed.
So with each rep and set you perform, your muscles will use the glycogen they store. The problem you have when you are following a low carb diet is that your glycogen storages will be low because carbohydrates are the building blocks of glycogen.
All this will make your workouts suck, basically. Which means you will be weaker in the gym, you will move less weight, and your training volume and intensity will not be as high as they would following a diet which is rich in carbs.
In a nutshell, that’s why low carbs diets are not really supporting your goal of looking fit. But are low carb diets all bad?
Are low carbs any good then?
If you are not into fitness at all, which I assume is not the case since you are reading this, then low carb diets might not be such a bad idea. There’s no point of filling up your muscles with energy if you are not going to use it anyway. So if you enjoy eating less carbs there isn’t really a problem in doing that.
As long as your diet is balanced and includes plenty of vitamins, minerals and healthy nutrients, go ahead and eat what you like.
Low carb diets do come in handy for fitness enthusiasts too at some point. If you are preparing for a photo shoot or maybe for a show, following a low carb diet for 1 or 2 weeks before the event will deplete your body from subcutaneous water, making you look leaner.
Actually, this is something that fitness and bodybuilding competitors do before each competition to get more muscle separation and vascularity.
Over to You
So yeah, low-carb diets have their uses and their strong points, but I wouldn’t really recommend for any active individual into fitness to stick to a low carb diet in the long run.
What are your experiences with low carb? Share your thoughts in the comments below.