Friday, 1 June 2012

Low Carb Diets - A Warning

nergy and training...I’m not sure whether I understood much about the relationship between them when I first started training. I was young, and I knew that you had to eat to acquire energy. But beyond that, I knew little, and probably cared as much.

I ate before class; I ate big meals, small meals; I didn’t eat at all before or well after the class finished. I did what I wanted to. I derived my energy from being young.

My Kung Fu teacher changed my approach. The meals we had after class replenished the body, kept it light, fast and energized.

And that brings me to carbohydrates. I’ve never strayed from eating carbs. My training takes care of my weight while carbs help supply my energy. I suppose that I’m lucky enough never to have been on a diet.


But there is a kind of weaning-away-from-carbs thinking associated with the low-carb diets that many people follow that I find troublesome. These dietary practices bear closer scrutiny.

Low carb diets were originally designed for very overweight, inactive people - not people who have physically active jobs and/or who are recreationally active.

The first 4-6 lbs. of weight lost on a low carb diet usually come from glycogen depletion and a loss of water weight. Each gram of glycogen or carb energy is stored with 3 grams of water. ( So each gram of carbohydrate accounts for 4 grams of body weight). When carbs are eliminated, the body has to burn through its stored glycogen. The water lost comes directly from the muscles.

Martial artists require carbs for energy


Once you’ve depleted your glycogen stores, the body draws on fat and protein sources for energy. It converts amino acids from muscle tissue into glucose in the liver. This takes time, and only produces enough carbs to fuel your brain and nervous system.

Hungry for more energy - and with no carbs in sight - you start producing ketone bodies (by-products of fat metabolism). These are released into the bloodstream. As ketone levels increases, you enter a state of ketosis which suppresses the appetite. At this stage, you may experience nausea, headaches, fatigue and breath that smells like ammonia.

That situation, to put it mildly, isn’t good. You’re compromising your health to slim down the waistline.

Carbs are our most versatile source of energy. They feed muscle and brain during both anaerobic and aerobic metabolism. Carbs are the fuel that burns quickly, providing you with both acceleration and high performance. Carbs in your body help you through that 8 hour shift. They also help you enjoy an active lifestyle outside the workplace.

Please don’t sacrifice carbs…or your health. Be wary, and stay safe!


  1. I've always said this! Your body needs carbs not just for energy, but certain vitamins and minerals requires carbs to be used a sort of "taxi" to travel around your body. Without carbs you're also not getting certain vitamins and minerals. Good article!

  2. Hi Gary,

    Good point. Some of these diets can be harmful. I've always advised folks who want to lose weight to go to a certified nutritionist, someone who can advise them on how to lose weight - and maintain health at the same time!

  3. I agree -- a low carb diet is just not safe (or environmentally sound, for that matter). Unless you're a cat!

  4. Hi Mieux,

    Thanks for the comment. I didn't consider the environmental aspect. By the way, cats are cool!


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