October 29, 2020

Does cutting carbs really help with weight loss or body composition goals?

If you’ve ever done a low- or no-carb blitz, you’d probably say ‘yes’. Who could blame you? That 1-2kg drop on the scales is not an illusion - but it’s not real either! The science?  

The reason weight appears to go down during the initial stage of a low-carb diet is due to reduced glycogen stores and water weight (for each gram of glycogen stored in muscles, we hold on to 3-4g of water). It’s got nothing to do with body fat! In fact, as a macronutrient, carbohydrate contains fewer kilojoules per gram than fat.  

What’s more, high-quality carbohydrates may actually benefit body composition goals by providing fuel for movement and exercise (low-carbers often complain of physical and mental lethargy, which can make it hard to meet activity targets, work out or summon focus or willpower, resulting in fewer calories burned). Carbs are the body and brain’s preferred and most readily usable energy source.   

Curious about how to stay on carbs’ good side? There’s a trick. Not all carbs are created equal. If you are weight-conscious, here are dietitian Liz’s tips for using carbs to your advantage.

1. Choose the right types of carbs: wholegrains, less refined products and low-GI varieties. That’s a ‘no’ to shite bread and refined, sugary cereals.  

2. Space carbohydrate intake evenly across the day. Not one massive pasta meal, because, blood sugar chaos!  

3. Control portions, not just of carbohydrate, but all food/macronutrients (see our recent blog post on portions). If energy intake exceeds your body’s needs, whether kilojoules come from carbs or not, weight gain may result.  

Have a nutrition question or dilemma? Our dietitians would love to answer! Ask us in comments! #keepsoaring 

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