Will I be Weighty Again? A Reader Asks…

Jamie,

Hi!! I need to lose about forty pounds but I read that if you ever eat carbs again all the weight comes back . . . and brings friends! IS this true?

Nancy

It is often said that (for people who follow a low-carbohydrate diet) pounds tend to come back with a vengeance when old eating habits return. While any diet which results in weight loss can create recidivists, low-carbing is seen as the most ‘high’ unfair culprit for many a thigh, glute and ab… and pretty unfairly.

Following are some of the reasons low-carbohydrate works, and why some claim it disappoints:

Eat less, lose more

Why it Works: For many low-carbohydrate dieters, the state of meaningful ketosis creates a fabulously hunger-free way of eating. That said, the person in ketosis just doesn’t have the appetite he or she had before reaching a beautiful lipolysis-living existence.

When it Wanes: Start dog-paddling in that vat of high-carb pudding, and the body goes from burning its own fat for fuel to burning those carbohydrates, leaving fat cells snacking and squirreling away for a famine. In fact, while that spoon is lavishing those carbs, bite by bite, hips are expanding like space unfolding in a caffeine-ridden red shift. Just one off-plan meal can set a person back up to three or four days when knocked out of ketosis.

While eating a slice of bread isn’t going to cause a gain of 5 pounds overnight (unless, as an allergic response, one retained water), is this technically any worse than the low-fat, low-calorie dieter suddenly downing a triple hot fudge sundae? On an insulin basis, maybe, yes. On a caloric basis (the basis upon which many diet), no. Still, the results are similar: fat cells were fed, and now the decision has to be made: will the next bite of food be on plan, or a further collapse into the abyss?

Protein and Fat–Where it’s at

Why it Works: Proteins and fats are self-limiting components of foods which remain in the digestive tract longer than processed carbohydrates (which tend to short circuit from the small intestines and back into the blood stream within the first few feet). As a result, due to their staying power, fats and protein cause no resulting hunger within a short period of time. The low-carbohydrate aficionado remains full longer, and, as such, tends to take food in with less frequency.

When it Wanes: Change to a meal chock full of chop suey, and a person will no doubt be starving again 30 minutes later. While this seems like a bad, film noir cliche, the truth of the matter is that those processed carbohydrates have little staying power in your digestive system on their own. Binding a starch with a fat or protein keeps hunger at bay slightly longer than simply snacking on those potato chips; nonetheless, for the most part, expect the resulting blood sugar rush and crash which accompanies an intake of processed foods, especially when much of the fiber has been stripped way. People who eat those processed carbohydrates tend to find themselves ravenous due to these fluctuations, eating through a pecan pie as though their stomachs knew no waistbands.

While the sudden amassing and potential gorging of carbohydrates and calories are enough to make a Sumo wrestler grab the Mylanta, many find they can consume literally thousands of calories and still be unnaturally hungry. This, alone, can cause someone who normally eats very little as a low-carbohydrate consumer to turn into a virtual binger overnight, packing on the pounds as the calories are shooting through the system with the celerity of heroin through a junky’s veins.

Energy a Go-Go

Why it Works: Eating healthful foods like vegetables, deliciously healthy organic meats and berries chock full of antioxidants are not only going to keep blood sugar from doing the Macarena; a vast majority of those enjoying a healthy low-carbohydrate lifestyle also report a lack of brain fog, and a resurgence of energy long-before forgotten like those leg warmers of the 80′s.

When it Wanes: We reached for the high-carb chocoriffic nougaty sensation Trickums bar because we weren’t anticipating hunger. We bought, we ate, we soared. Then we crashed. Sugar has a way of making the unwary more tired than before the blood sugar surged with peanuty satisfaction. Now, as a result, there is a greater crash and a larger need for even more sugar in order to keep the ‘high’ surfing the blood sugar seas. It’s a negative cycle which leads to more crashing, more lethargy, and the craving for even more sugar. The need for more overrides the generally conscientious, healthy enjoyment of quality choices and leads to further poor food choices. Before we know it, those pounds have crashed our slim beaches, and left us with dimples and an adipose bog of saddlebags.

We have, essentially, gone from being Albert Einstein to Gollum, stroking a licorice whip with the fervency of a crazed lunatic.

Lifestyle, not Passing Fancy

It is most important to press that any healthy way of eating is just that: a life change. While many plans tout quick results and a promise of old eating habits as a reward, the seasoned must run away from the notion that old habits won’t yield old results. No plan of action without a new maintenance plan is going to yield lifetime success. More than anything, those runaway gains and losses do more damage to health and metabolism in the long run than many might suspect.

Regardless of plan, the key is to stick with it as though one’s life depended upon it.

And if you’re one of millions who are gluten-intolerant, pre-diabetic, hypertensive, or morbidly obese, it most definitely does.
Tips, Not Slips:

Be Prepared: The Boy Scout motto still rings true today. Always have ‘legal’ low-carb foods on hand in case of emergency. My favorite? Oopsie rolls.

Be sane: Most cravings can be ridden out. Waiting a few minutes tends to reveal that hunger might have been boredom, thirst or emotions ready to pounce on the nearest bagel bender.

Be healthy: Know that one bite off-plan should not lead to a slippery slope down Ben and Jerry Way. Make your very next bite one rich in fat and protein, drink your water, and avert damage.

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