Let me start this article off by saying that carbohydrates are not the devil. They can provide you with energy and many of them are found in healthy goodies like fruit, vegetables, wheat and brown rice (complex carbs).
But although many carbohydrates are good for you, not all carbohydrates are created equally.
Unfortunately, it’s our beloved refined carbs that cause us the most grief — our pastas, pizzas, bread, rice, cakes. Basically, all the delectable stuff.
Eating these types of carbs has been linked to a drastically increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Cutting (or at least vastly reducing) these items from your diet can see a dramatic loss of weight and increased feeling of well-being.
For me, mixing a low carb diet with a week of 3 x 20 minute HIIT and strength workouts, one game of netball and a 30–45 minute run put me in the best shape of my life.
Here are some of the reasons why a low-carb diet was the best thing I’ve ever done.
I lost weight, and I lost weight quickly.
After the first couple of weeks of going low carb, I was stoked about the weight loss but put it down to water weight. Although I’d never lost weight so easily and so quickly before, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up.
But as the weeks progressed, and the weight continued to drop off, I realised this was the kind of lifestyle that suited me and my body.
One of the biggest reasons for weight loss on a low carb diet is purely incidental. Eliminating refined carbohydrates and reducing complex carbohydrates from your meals can greatly reduce the amount of calories you are consuming per meal.
Let’s be clear, carbs don’t make you fat. No particular food makes you fat on its own. But eating carbs for every meal can add up to a vast number of calories. By cutting these out, you will inadvertently be removing the donuts, pizzas, burgers, cookies and cakes, and learn to find other (still fulfilling) alternatives.
By the two-month mark of my new low carb lifestyle, I’d lost 10kgs. Several months on, I’m still continuing to lose weight, and have dramatically reduced the amount of time I think about food and weight. It’s given me some of my life back because a) it’s so easy to follow and b) I’m feeling really, really good.
I have more energy.
Aside from the weight loss, which has actually just become an added bonus, I have a ridiculous amount of energy that I can’t remember ever having before.
Refined carbohydrates have been processed to remove parts of the grain and have had sugar added. They are stripped of almost all fibre, vitamins and minerals. Basically, they’re empty calories. Eating these types of foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner (like most people do) can have dramatic, negative effects on your energy and weight.
When I started cutting these refined carbs out, my energy sky-rocketed. The first week of exercising after reducing my carb intake was pretty difficult. I felt weak and tired, but my body quickly adapted.
I have a general feeling of well-being.
I always felt gross after eating. Despite not having any intolerances, I constantly felt lethargic, bloated and dull. But once I dramatically reduced by carb intake, these feelings never re-appeared. Not once.
I feel better in my clothes, not just because of the weight loss but because my body feels content and I no longer feel constantly stuffed.
Eliminating the foods that once made me feel so yuck (burgers, fries, pastas) have made me feel like a new person. And as much as I love these foods, it has been so incredibly worth it.
It’s easy to follow & find substitutes.
For most of us, it is very easy to access low carb options these days.
Burger joints provide options for naked burgers, switching out buns for low-carb buns or lettuce. Supermarkets are rife with low-carb options, from breads, donuts, wraps and pasta. Almost every food item has its own low-carb variation nowadays.
Personally, my weaknesses have always been pasta and pizza. Fortunately, both of these food items have their own low-carb replicas. Almost every supermarket sells pre-made cauliflower pizza bases, and they have changed my life.
Basically, living low carb is easy. You can still eat yummy foods and you will rarely feel like you’re “missing out”.
I still have the occasional bowl of creamy pasta (with garlic bread) or burger (bun and all), but I’ve learnt that for me personally, the negative effects of refined carbs far outweigh my enjoyment of eating them.
Everyone is different, but for those of us who go through the rollercoaster ride of dieting, exercising and weight-loss attempts, it’s incredibly exciting to find something that really works.