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Carbs: Weight Gain and Weight Loss

Understand how balancing proteins and carbohydrates can affect weight gain and weight loss

There are many factors to consider when it comes to developing a healthy and realistic long term strategy for weight loss and healthy living. In broad terms, you need to burn more calories than you consume. But weight loss and weight gain can be affected by the balancing types of calories that are consumed.

One of the most popular strategies for losing weight involves a high protein / low carbohydrate diet. These dietary buzz words have been used to sell eager consumers on highly restrictive crash diets that promise rapid results. But striking the proper balance between proteins and carbohydrates is a key component of crafting a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Carbs Are Not The Enemy

First, it’s important to know that carbohydrates are not the enemy. Not necessarily, anyways. Though they’ve been demonized in recent diet trends, carbs play a critical role in a healthy diet.

Unfortunately, many of the carbs common to American diets are also high in refined carbohydrates and often contain added sugars. These types of foods are loaded with calories but devoid of nutrition. So instead of eating carbs through heavy starches like white bread, white rise or potatoes, turn to whole grains and fibers. Fruits and vegetables are a reliable source of complex carbs and take longer to digest, promoting a natural feeling of fullness.

Proteins Are Your Friend

On the other side of the equation, a diet rich in protein offers numerous health benefits that can aid in weight loss. Sugary carbs can cause spikes in blood sugar, accompanied by inevitable hungry crashes. Proteins naturally promote more stable blood sugar levels, and that means a dieter will spend less time fighting the urge to snack later.

Proteins can also help fight food cravings in other ways. The body naturally digests proteins more slowly than it does carbs. This helps promote a natural feeling of fullness throughout the day. Finally, the body naturally burns more calories as it digests proteins than it does with carbohydrates, aiding in the weight loss process and naturally encouraging your metabolic response.

But Not All Proteins Are Good

Like the differences between good carbs and bad carbs, all proteins are not created equal. Many foods that are high in protein are also high in fat and cholesterol and carry with them a host of other dietary concerns such as heart disease.

Nutritionists would recommend leaner proteins. That means steering clear of red meats and opting instead of poultry and fish. For vegans and vegetarians, tofu, beans, nuts, quinoa and seitan offer healthy plant-based protein sources that are among the leanest available.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

A weight loss strategy that balances a modest amount of carbs with lots of lean proteins is known as a Ketogenic diet. The name is derived from a process known as Ketosis, which is sometimes known as the body’s natural “fat burning mode.”
During Ketosis, the body can’t rely on carbs for fuel, and instead is forced to burn more fat. This works in conjunction with the associated feelings of fullness to promote accelerated weight loss.

An individual dieter’s needs may differ, and without the specific advice of a licensed healthcare professional, it can be difficult to know what diet best meets your individual needs. And there are predictable differences in opinion amongst professionals in the field.

Some proponents of Ketogenic diets recommend as much as 30-50% of a diet come from proteins. However, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend more modest percentages of proteins. The Harvard School of Public health recommends a daily diet that’s 20-25 percent lean proteins. They suggest a daily intake of 0.8 grams of lean proteins per kilogram of body weight.

What are the Risks of a Ketogenic Diet?

Regardless of specifics, there seems to be agreement that a high protein Ketogenic diet is not without its risks. High cholesterol and heart disease can be side-effects of protein-heavy diets that are also high in fat. And dieters with a pre-existing kidney condition may see further complications, as the digestion of proteins can strain kidneys and possibly contribute to the problem of kidney stones.

Another unintended side-effect of a high protein diet is increased calcium in the urine. This can possibly contribute to osteoporosis, a condition more common in aging patients, wherein the bones become brittle and break more easily.

Ultimately, finding a proper balance of diets that are high in proteins and low in carbs is one that should be made with the help of an experienced doctor. There are a host of factors to consider when it comes to determining the healthiest and most sustainable strategy to lose weight and keep it off.

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