The Metabolic Advantage to Eating Low Carb

April 19, 2012 in Nutrition

Eating low carb is not for everyone, but I find that approximately 70% of the clients I interact with in my profession do much better on a low carb diet.  The benefits range from optimizing fat loss, and improved sleep and well being, to boosting energy levels. Our energy making organelle inside each of our cells does best when given the right mix of macronutrients. One must eat for their genetics, and most people’s genetics dictate that a lower carbohydrate approach is superior.

LowCarbFoodPyramid 360x281 300x234 The Metabolic Advantage to Eating Low Carb

What constitutes a low carb diet?  I suppose that means anything below what the standard FDA food pyramid recommends of 50-60% of your calories coming from carbohydrates, although it is really all relative.  If I told everyone to stop eating junk food and refined sugars, (which is about the only thing that all nutritionists agree on) then by default you would probably be eating a “low carbohydrate diet.” One factor that has led to many misunderstandings about proper dietary intake ratio is the massive and ubiquitous focus on grains as our main source of calories, whether they be whole grains or processed and refined grains.  There are very few of us humans that have genetically adapted ourselves to eating a diet that is so high in these mostly starchy, sugary foods.  When I say sugary foods, I mean the ultimate impact they have on our blood sugar, which as I’ll explain is on of the major reasons why “low carbohydrate diets” work so well.

The easiest type of calorie to burn for energy is a carbohydrate.  It is easily and directly converted into a form that your brain, muscles, and pretty much every cell in your body can process for energy production. I think that is why there is a misunderstanding that we must have mostly carbohydrates to power our body.  Would it surprise you to know that our body utilizes carbs for energy because that is what is readily available?  But if we are not given carbs our bodies would find different pathways to create that same energy.

1254235352 low carb diet 965836 The Metabolic Advantage to Eating Low CarbIf I took 2 groups, where 1 group was fed only proteins and fats exclusively, and the other group was given carbohydrates exclusively, in 6 months, the fat and protein group would still be alive and doing perfectly fine, where as the carbohydrates group would all be dead.

Am I saying to never eat carbohydrates? Absolutely not!

There are many nutrients that we would miss out on if not given the right carbohydrates. What I am saying, however, is that most of us need a much lower carbohydrate level than we think we do. The nutrients necessary for life are really proteins and fats.  Not so much carbohydrates.

The other important point is that:

Most people’s metabolisms were never meant to burn purely carbohydrates for energy.

As hunter gatherer,s we had access to fish, game meats, vegetables, underground veggies, some nuts, the occasional fruit when available, and maybe… just maybe, some occasional grain in the smallest quantities.

It sounds to me like most of us have a metabolism that has been genetically designed to burn proteins and fats for energy, not carbs!

There is a metabolic advantage to this sort of eating.

Fats and proteins have to undergo several conversions in order to become viable energy sources for our bodies. This contributes to some extra calories being “wasted” during the conversion process. This means that those of you who don’t like to “diet”, you have a bit of extra leeway when setting up portions on a lower carbohydrate diet.   There are many studies that show when eating low carbohydrate versus high carbohydrate diets, the low carbohydrate diets allow 300-500 calorie headroom, allowing low carb individuals to eat higher calories and continue to lose weight.  In addition, compliance was greater because people felt full and were not feeling deprived.

Does this mean that low carbohydrate is for everyone?  Like, I said:

Not at all.

There are some people who have genetics that have adapted themselves for the consumption of mostly carbohydrates, and they actually do better on a relatively high carbohydrate diet.   I have ways to confirm this.  It is actually quite easy to do when I am allowed the opportunity to evaluate someone’s biosignature, or in other words, their bodyfat storage patterns.  Depending on how you store bodyfat on your body, I can see what ratio of carbohydrate you are genetically designed to eat.

This ratio varies by individual.  If for instance, you do better on a lower carbohydrate diet, you still may need more carbohydrates than the guy next to you in order to continue to keep your metabolism optimal.  Even in such sciences as nutrition and biochemistry, which seem so exacting and cut and dry, everyone needs a slightly different mix in order to reveal their optimal ratio of macronutrients.

proteincarbfat 289x300 The Metabolic Advantage to Eating Low CarbYou can hear that I refer to your genetics quite a bit to help determine your right ratio.  Well this issue is getting more and more complicated as we have a continual intermixing of cultures around the world, especially in continents such as north America where it has become a melting pot of different genetic codes. In general, the closer your heritage comes to the equatorial portions of the planet, the more you would most likely do well on a higher carbohydrate intake.  Whereas if you come from the polar regions, you would probably do best on a very low to no carbohydrate diet that is mostly fats and proteins.  People in the middle would need something in between.  Now that everyone on this planet is a “mutt” it further complicates things. There is a new genetic test that is about to come out that will immediately tell my clients what their optimal ratio will be.  This test will be available cheaply for all my clients within the next 6 months!

As you can see, the advantages of low carb eating are vast.  This doesn’t mean it is for everyone, and every diet requires a bit of tweaking to get right.  If we can think outside the box and divert our focus from the general FDA food pyramid and start to pay more attention to what our bodies specifically need based upon our genetics, we will all find that most comprehensive approaches to nutrition can be healthful when given to the right person.

Joey headshot The Metabolic Advantage to Eating Low CarbBy Joey Emont

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