Why Has My Low Carb Diet Stopped Working?
By Kate Street
Having been failed by every other diet out there, you decided to try the low-carb approach that Dr. Atkins and others have been bragging about. I mean hey, a few thousand cattle farmers can’t be wrong! The first week you probably lost anywhere between 2 to 10 pounds, and thereafter you most likely dropped 1 to 3 pounds each week. You’re thrilled with your results and you’re thinking, “Wow, this is easy!”
You’re now a low-carb convert and preaching your low-carb enlightenment to your friends, your family, your cat and anyone else who'll listen. You’ve had to shop for smaller clothes, you’ve mastered the outside perimeter of the grocery store, and you’ve convinced your sister (and your cat) to eat low carb. You have more energy, your cravings have lessened, and maybe you’ve even seen some positive changes in your cholesterol.
So you’re cruising along nicely on the low carb highway, munching on chicken, nuts, and vegetables when whammo! You hit a wall and your low carb progress all of a sudden comes to a complete halt.
After losing weight continuously for weeks or even months, the scale seems to have settled in it’s favorite spot, which, unfortunately for you is still 10-30 pounds away from your goal weight. After putting the scale in different spots on the floor, changing the battery, and even banging it around a little bit you finally realize that you have to face a dreadful fact: your low carb diet seems to have stopped working.
Oh why, oh why, oh why?! Just when you seemed to have finally solved your lifelong diet problem, a wrench is thrown into the works. It’s enough to make you start second-guessing the low-carb gurus and yourself. You start thinking: maybe you’re eating too many nuts. Sure they have primarily “good” fat, but what about all those calories? Maybe you’re eating too much red meat. Or cheese. Maybe it’s the olive oil you’re putting on your salads. Maybe you’re eating too many times a day or your portions are too large.
So you try to re-strategize your low carb diet. Maybe you cut down out your snacks, eliminate the nuts, and decide to shun red meat. You slash your calories, forgo the butter, and cut down on the olive oil. Unfortunately, after a week of this, you find that not only are you still not losing weight, but you’re also suffering from diminished energy and you’re battling cravings. What’s a seasoned low-carber supposed to do?
Well, before you trade in your full-fat cheese for low-fat cupcakes and take Dr. Atkins off your Christmas card list, ponder this question: Are you exercising?
“Exercise!” you may be saying, “The best part about my low carb diet is that I was losing weight without exercise!” While this is all well and good-- you can lose a lot of weight on a low carb diet without exercising, the truth is, dieting alone will only get you so far. Chances are, you will not reach your goal weight without adding in exercise as an essential part of the low carb equation.
Or maybe you’re saying, “Well, I already exercise! I’ve been exercising for months and my weight is still stalled.” If you are saying this, then good for you for establishing a very important habit. However, your weight may have stalled because you’re not exercising properly. I know what you’re thinking, “Not only do I have to exercise, but I have to figure out how to exercise properly?”
Well, before you stop reading and decide to take me off your Christmas card list, I’ve got some great news for you: Low carbers have it made over high carbers when it comes to exercise. It’s true! Following a low carb diet makes exercise much more effective and you don’t have to work out as long as your high-carb counterpart.
How is this possible? Well, perhaps you’ve heard fitness experts say that it takes 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise before we start tapping into our fat stores, and for most people this is true. In the first 20 minutes of a workout the body is busy burning carbohydrates and sugar as energy. It’s only after the initial 20 minutes when most people stop burning carbs and start burning fat.
This is where we low carbers have a distinct and huge advantage! Since we’re not storing a whole bunch of carbohydrates and sugar to be used as energy, the very first minute we start exercising is when we start to burn fat. So instead of having to work out for 40 minutes to get the fat burning benefits of high-carb eaters, we can cut our workouts in half and get incredible results! In other words, low carb dieters burn just as much fat in 20 minutes that high carb dieters burn in 40 minutes! Not too shabby, huh?
Don’t just stop at cardiovascular exercise, though. This is a common mistake among many exercisers. Cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, running, or bicycling, is great for burning fat while we’re doing it, but to get the ultimate benefit of burning fat twenty-four hours a day, strength-training should be on every low-carbers to do list.
If you’re pleased that you’ve lost weight, but feel that you just look like a smaller version of your flabby self, then strength-training will be your ultimate secret weapon. Strength training helps us burn fat, it speeds up our metabolism and it reshapes our bodies. Strength-training helps us build muscle (a.k.a. tone) and muscle takes up three times less space than fat. So while we’re reshaping our bodies, we’re also exercising ourselves into even smaller sized clothing.
Combining cardiovascular exercise with strength-training just three times a week is guaranteed to break through the weight loss barrier you may be experiencing on your low carb diet. And by adding exercise to your low carb routine, you’ll also experience even more energy, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll just fall in love with your mirror.
Give cardio and strength training a try and in just four weeks you’ll be touting the benefits of exercise to everyone you know just as strongly as you did way back when you first started loving your low carb diet. Who knows, maybe you’ll convince your sister (or your cat) to work out with you.
(Copyright 2003, 2004 FSF Media Productions and LowCarbExercise.com)