Why Low Carb Diets Don’t Work + What to Do Instead

Ask anyone what they should to do to drop a few pounds, and they’ll most likely  say, “I need to cut back on carbs.” As a health and nutrition coach, I’ve heard it about a million times. Carbs have gotten such a bad rep over the years and most recently, going nearly carb-free (the keto diet) has become the go-to weight-loss craze. And while low carb / ketogenic diets may work for quick weight loss, more than likely women who lose weight with a low carb diet are unable to sustain it for any period of time. Eventually, they’ll hit a plateau or gain back the weight they originally lost.

Simply put, low carb diets do work for weight loss because you are going into a caloric deficit and cutting out an entire macro group. Also, there are a lot of unhealthy carbs (cookies, chips, candy) so eliminating those foods obviously aid in weight loss as well but it’s not a sustainable lifestyle long-term.

If you’re sedentary, your overall carb needs are lower. So you might be able to get away with more restriction (which is why we lower our carb intake for rest days in TRIM), but if you like to exercise, decreasing your carbs an extended period of time can leave you tired and irritable, with muscle loss, messed up hormones and a slowed metabolism. And as soon as carbs are re-introduced, weight gain occurs.

Bottom line – if you want a sustainable lifestyle that allows you to burn stubborn fat and at the same time building lean, metabolism-boosting muscle a low carb diet is not for you. 

So here’s what to do instead.

Because carbs fuel your workouts as well as help your muscles to repair post-workout helping to develop lean calorie-burning and metabolism-boosting muscle they’re actually necessary for weight loss – woohoo. But the key is enjoying the right kinds of carbs at the right times for the right reasons. And that’s where carb-cycling comes in. Carb-Cycling is an intentional variation of carbohydrate intake to help your body function optimally allowing the loss of stubborn fat and the building of lean muscle. Essentially you’re eating carbs a few days a  week and then reducing your carbohydrate intake on other days to keep your body guessing. The low carb days deplete glycogen and dip into fat stores for energy and the high carb days give us energy for our workouts and repair and refuel our muscles. Now while you’ll see high-level athletes do a very strict method of carb cycling (again, not sustainable long-term) we use a much more lifestyle-friendly method in TRIM that can be utilized for long term weight maintenance. I have an entire facebook group on the topic if you want to dive deeper but in a nutshell here’s our carb-cycling strategy.

Our Carb Cycling Plan

Monday – Low Carb Day (less than 50 net carbs ((carbs-fiber)) + HIIT workout or sprints

– > Our goal today is to deplete the glycogen stores so our body can begin burning fat

Tuesday – Low Carb Day (less than 40 net carbs ((carbs-fiber)) + HIIT workout or sprints

– > Our goal today is to deplete the glycogen stores so our body can begin burning fat

Wednesday – Regular Macro Day (follow the macro guidelines you get in My Fitness Pal) + a strength training workout (we like doing a full body day today)

– > Our goal today is to build lean fat-burning and metabolism-boosting muscle by properly fueling our muscles with protein and carbohydrates. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy!

Thursday – Low-Calorie Day – consume 25% fewer calories + under 100 net carbs and let your body R E S T !! Our bodies require rest to build muscle so don’t feel guilty giving your body a break.

Friday – Regular Macro Day (follow the macro guidelines you get in My Fitness Pal) + a strength training workout. We focus on training arms + back.

– > Our goal today is to build lean fat burning and metabolism-boosting muscle by properly fueling our muscles with protein and carbohydrates. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy!

Saturday – High Macro Day (follow the macro guidelines you get in My Fitness Pal and add 25% if you hit your workout hard) Leg Day workout.

– > Our goal today is to fire up our metabolism by working our biggest muscle group!

Sunday – Low-Calorie Day – consume 25% fewer calories and let your body R E S T !!

And if you need specific guidance we put together a free challenge that takes you day by day – katehorning.com/trimthewaistline

 

Oh, and if you need recipes to fit with your CC lifestyle, you can actually input your macros and net carb needs in the A Healthy Passion software and get recipe recommendations for each day so you’ll know exactly what to eat.

So there you have it, why low carb diets don’t work and what to do instead! I hope you’ll give carb cycling a try – it’s truly the first lifestyle I have seen ladies able to stick to no problem at all while also reaching their weight loss goals!

 

Happy Carb Cycling,

 

Kate

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