Should a smoker light up another cigarette when he’s trying to quit? How about an alcoholic who is trying to better himself but wants a shot? Same thing goes for an in debt gambler. With just about any “bad habit” your body lies to you and wants to “give in”. All this does is slow down or reverse the process of recovery. The same goes for fitness goals.
Obviously, there are some times when your body doesn’t lie and wants to help you, one example being when you get hurt. But don’t mistake discomfort or any of the statements below to “get away” or “blow off” a good nutrition/training program by saying I need to listen to my body and do what its telling me. That’s BS.
First let’s talk about nutrition mistakes. This one’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine but I’m not going to hit every point in this department. For example, everyone knows hot temperatures, humid conditions, stressful situations, and even altitude can effect your bodies thirst and hunger levels and it can throw you way off. One example is when your body may be saying, I’m not thirsty. When in reality your dehydrated. This could lead to all sorts of complications. For the purpose of this article though, I want to explore the aspect of low to no carbohydrate dieting. Read on to see me explain some statements I’ve heard, and my take on them in particular.
Low carb “dieting” isn’t for me. I feel terrible while I’m on it, and better when I eat my carbohydrates. The cravings are unbearable when I follow this type of lifestyle.
Yes Atkins now has a bad name, and higher carbohydrates are now being seen as the “healthier option” but HOLY PROTEIN. Now don’t get me wrong, being a bodybuilder and an enthusiast for giving people the best physiques possible, I do believe carbohydrates have their time and place. But by reading below you will just understand why the nutritionist you go see is over fat.
If you are low carbohydrate “living” the wrong way or without proper guidance then you probably do feel “better” while on a higher carbohydrate American lifestyle “diet”. Only thing is properly structured low carbohydrate dieting deserves and adaptation period. Just like when a caffeine addict or crack head has withdrawals. Keeping it simple, here is what happens.
With a lower carbohydrate intake, your kidneys release more fluid, you pee a lot, and get what else? You got it! It means you are losing more electrolytes as well. Therefore you may experience dizziness, cramping, and some people experience orthostatic hypotension, which isthat faint feeling where you stand up or stretch. But there are ways to get around this. I won’t reveal all my tricks, but one for example is by adding more salt to foods, or making sure you get in your important electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium, along with drinking more water.
Another thing to mention is cravings. Most people are so used to such elevated insulin levels that when you start a new low carbohydrate lifestyle cravings for carbohydrates go up like a rocket ship! (At first!) We all know some people can quit smoking or drinking cold turkey, but on the other hand some cant. Same goes for this type of nutrition plan. It takes a few days to a few weeks depending on the person to adapt to a change like this. When first starting a low carb diet you will experience the total body insulin hunger. Your body doesn’t like it, or in other words it sucks! This is because you don’t cure the problem by going out and eating a higher carbohydrate meal. Your body is lying to you, and you must fight the temptations.
Before I move on, I want to mention what happens to some clients even before I start them on a low carbohydrate diet. Most likely, at first my clients will be doing some type of carbohydrate cycling which consists of high, moderate, or low carbohydrate days. Some of them, on their “higher carbohydrate” (yes higher carbohydrate) days HATE ME. They say cravings go through the roof. Even though on this day they get A TON of food and carbs, they feel the hungriest, and can’t wait to go back to the low carbohydrate days with less food. Pretty awesome huh? That’s because elevated insulin levels cause hunger and glucose (carbohydrate) cravings. Let me explain.
Between meals insulin levels fall. The hormone glucagon then elevates which releases glucose from the liver to supply the brain and muscles during this “fast”.
This is what keeps you satiated between meals. On the other hand, if you’re fasting and insulin levels remain elevated, this glucose cannot be released and you begin to crave a source of carbohydrates or you feel fatigued, sluggish, or want to crash etc. Not to confuse you here but, saying this you could feel hungry if insulin levels are too high OR too low. Insulin responses are very different depending on the person. But getting back to the point, generally from my experience with clients, low carbohydrate diets provide a better overall “feeling” of the body than do high carbohydrate diets. At first it does suck a little, but I’ll stress the point again below.
Take this PRIME example. It’s been a few days and you decide, this “diet” isn’t for you. You feel like GARBAGE and need some carbs. Whoa, whoa, whoa wait a second! Do you remember the drug addict discussed above? How about the gambler at the casino? Give in and you just set yourself back to the beginning stages of the process. If you can get over these cravings and such, they will go away. All of a sudden you will feel better, have more energy and get away from the trend that is causing America to become so obese.
The higher your insulin levels, the more of the carbohydrates you consume will be stored as body fat. If you are taking in to many carbohydrates, it can decrease your insulin sensitivity. Now listen everyone, this increases fat storage in both the short and long term. When you are insulin sensitive, glucose is more likely to be stored as glycogen in muscle tissue, rather than body fat.
As you can see, huge changes happen to your body in the adaptation phase of a low carbohydrate “diet”. But that doesn’t mean your body isn’t lying. By implementing things like more electrolytes, fats of all kinds including medium chain triglycerides, when you reach the point where you use fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates etc. the few symptoms you experience at first are difficult and may throw you off. But remember, just like when trying to quit a bad habit, in the end you will be in a whole new world.
If I ever have a client that I start using ketogenic dieting with, once they get over the adaptation period, they start to notice some things. First is they say, I’m always full, or I’m always satisfied. Basically, the cravings go away. How long depends on the person. A LOT of the people being coached by me will tell you they can’t even eat all the food I prescribe them!
Saying all of this, is a huge controversy on the subject. Where the controversy isn’t, is with my client’s increased energy, awareness, and metal clarity after they fight the signs of their body lying to them and getting over the adaptation period of an overall lower carbohydrate lifestyle! This is true only when having (and I stress) a properly structured low carbohydrate diet. Like I mentioned above, even after saying this, to reach your optimal fitness goals I do believe carbohydrates have their time and place.