carbohydrates

Water weight vs Fat loss

Firstly, this is NOT a post telling you to stop eating carbs, but i think some people need to understand something about them. for every gram of carbs you eat, your body will store 3 grams of water...

so 100g carb, = 300g water (net 400g weight increase)

so here's some perspective, if i eat 300g of carbs in a day, my body will then hold 900g of water which means a net gain of 1.2kg or over 2lbs

This is NOT fat, this is short term, and can partly explain the wild fluctuation we experience, daily and even hourly in our weight.

This is short term, and if handled correctly can be reduced fairly quickly. often its this water loss that is responsible for many diets, and shake plans causing you to lose "weight" and feeling less bloated.

so can we stop saying carbs are making us fat? they aren't... they may cause an increase in water retention, but overeating is what makes us fat!

so lets go over all of this in more detail!

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If you search “best diet for weight loss” on the internet recently, you will have probably found something called “the ketogenic diet,”which is essentially a rebranded Atkins diet. After a little bit of digging, your questions start to stack up:

  • How does keto work?

  • Will keto work for me?

  • Is it dangerous?

  • Does it burn fat?

  • Will i keep the results?

To answer these questions, we must first understand our body’s relationship with carbs and in particular glycogen.

Ok, what is glycogen?

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Is glycogen a carbohydrate? Well, sort of. Glucose (a type of sugar) is a carbohydrate that your body uses for fuel and glycogen is stored glucose. essentially when the body gets excess fuel, the glucose (sugar) molecules are linked together in a chain, producing longer units, called glycogen.

When we exercise and perform activity our bodies draw upon the glycogen tucked away in our muscles (i.e. glycogen stores) for fuel, which is why you hear about athletes “carb loading” in the days before a big race or match. They are fueling their bodies for extended periods of activity.

So where is glycogen stored?

Like we said above, some glycogen is stored in the muscles but there are also some glycogen stores in the liver (this is important for the water retention aspect, because as we absorb glucose our body will also retain sodium, which leads into the body holding more water. The glycogen stored in the liver is what keeps the body functions running (i.e., brain, digestive, and cardiovascular function).

Am I losing fat or water weight: Carbs and water retention

It’s common for those new to a low-carb lifestyle to lose a significant amount of weight at the very beginning of their carb restriction. That could mean four, 10 or even 12 pounds in the first two weeks depending on a person’s starting weight. You will often see these dramatic results as part of advertising for various fad diets, weight loss/shake plans. You might ask,”is this rate of weight loss sustainable” and the answer is simply, NO.

It’s all about the glycogen stores and the association between carbs and water retention.  Each gram of glycogen is associated with 3-4 grams of water, which i talked about at the very beginning. So, as your body burns its way through the reduced dietary carbs and into the glycogen stores, the water attached to the glycogen is lost as well resulting in the phenomenon commonly known as “losing water weight.” There’s no fat loss here yet, it’s like the glycogen and accompanying water are squeezed out of your muscles and liver, (any fat loss will come from a negative calorie intake, and will be much slower than water loss).

This also explains why plenty of folks experience an alarming weight loss, in a relative short space of time on diets like keto, or protein shake meal replacement diets, and also the vice versa, why people experience shocking weight gain the day following a “cheat meal.” Even if the ingested carbs are at a moderate level (i.e. consumption of a grilled cheese sandwich, not an entire deep-fried birthday cake), your liver and muscles snatch up as much glucose as they can take, including up to four grams of water to accompany each gram of glycogen. I myself experience a weight gain of over 10lbs in 2 days after consuming carbs after my final physique competition of the year, a result of being extremely carb depleted for and extended period of time. Psychologically for me it was important to remember this was water weight i had gain, and not fat.

Will i keep my results?

Well as i stated in the previous section, any fat loss will be the result of a calorie deficit/negative calorie diet. If you maintain the diet structure and activity level that allowed you to achieve this then YES, you will keep your  results. However, any ‘weight loss’ that is a results of simply a reduction in carbs and not calories, will NOT be fat loss, and as soon as you return to eating carbs, your body will hoover up the glucose and lead to the immediate return of water weight.

It is therefore important to understand the difference between ‘water weight’ and ‘fat loss’ and not to wrongly villianise carbs as evil food source that will make you fat.

Conclusion

  • Glycogen is a way the body stores glucose as energy for later

  • Consuming less than 100 grams of carbs per day will begin to deplete glycogen stores

  • Glycogen binds with water molecules; when the body uses glycogen, it results in a loss of “water weight”

  • Depleted glycogen stores will ultimately lead to a reduction in water weight

  • Water weight and fat are separate

  • Fat loss is a result of calorie deficit, but water loss is results or carb reduction

THE LIE ABOUT CARBS

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If you were unlucky enough to watch the abomination ‘THE TRUTH ABOUT CARBS’ on the BBC or on it's Iplayer, then it's time to set the record straight.

Dr Maassarani is a GP who thinks "Beige carbs" are somehow uniquely fattening. As has been covered elsewhere recently, GP's get next to no nutritional training, unfortunately. Not to be discouraged by a lack of training in the field of nutrition our Doc goes on to claim that: Most of the starch and sugar in these beige and white carbs are broken down into glucose for energy, and if you eat too much, the glucose is stored as fat.

Firstly, glucose is rarely, if ever, stored directly as body fat. Sorry Doc, that's just basic physiology. Suffice to say if you eat too much of anything- a calorie surplus -then you gain fat. Be that carbs, fat or protein. Carbs are not unique in this effect; yes Mr. Wicks, even those "healthy fats" can make you fat. But what's worse for our intrepid Doc is that he even lumps potatoes and rice into the beige claim!

Secondly, whilst there are studies that show that one person may have a differing sensitivity to carbs compared to the next person, which may alter the effectiveness and efficiency of their desired results, the overlying rule remains, calories in vs calories out; weight loss and weight gain goals are dictated by this principle. Further understanding how your body reacts to certain macro nutrients will certainly enhance the speed and effectiveness of your diet to you're desired results, but potatoes aren't why you put on weight, eating too much and not moving enough was.

So here are a few things to consider about carbohydrates, that refute a lot of what was said in the documentary:

1. White potatoes have one of the highest satiety scores of all foods -this means they keep you feeling full- good if your goal is weight loss, as this means less snacking, less likely to go over you're calories limits.

2. 127m Japanese and 1.3 BILLION Indian citizens may dispute his claim that "beige" rice (a staple of their national diets) is somehow the cause of all our weight gain woes, those nations having some of the lowest obesity rates on the planet! So why were his patients successful by eating more "green carbs" and omitting their usual beige fare? They ate fewer calories, plain and simple. Green vegetables are considered “free food” as they have very few calories and are often a negative calorie food when we consider the energy needed to digest them is more than they often provide us with.

Research also shows that low carb diets result in a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake, even if you're not monitoring your diet intake, this basically means that:


1. You're limiting one whole food group, so you have less choice. Less food variety a lower
calorie intake.
2. You eat more protein, upping protein intake reduces hunger = lower calorie intake.
3. By opting for "green carbs" over those supposedly nasty "beige carbs" you eat more vegetables, which are fibre rich and also contribute to feelings of fullness a lower calorie intake.
Clue: It's not carbs it's too much food (calories), period.

How the Body Uses Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats

The human body is exceptionally clever machine that will make do with whatever type of foods are available to it. The mere fact we can survive on a variety of diets has been a vital tool for a species that evolved under conditions where food sources were scarce and unpredictable. Imagine a world where you had to depend on successfully hunting a woolly mammoth, discovering the carcass of a previous predators kill or finding berry bush for survive and you have the world our ancestors evolved in!

Today, for many of us, calories are mostly cheap and plentiful, and in reality probably too easily available. Understanding what the basic macronutrients have to offer can help us make better choices when it comes to structuring our own diets.

With every bite of food we eat, each portion of nutrition starts to be broken down for use by the body and so our bodies metabolism gets to work. A series of chemical reactions begins, that transforms food into components that can be used for the body's basic processes. These being Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats travel through various sets of metabolic routes that are specific to each major nutrient.


Basically if all three nutrients are available in your diet, then carbohydrates and fats will be used primarily for energy while proteins provide the raw materials for making hormones, muscle, and other essential biological equipment.


Think carbs and fats = fuel, protein = bodies building blocks.

Protein

Proteins in food are broken down into pieces (called amino acids) that are then used to build new proteins with specific functions, such as allowing communication between different cells, or transporting biological molecules from here to there. When there is a shortage of fats or carbohydrates, proteins can also yield energy. It really is the bodies swiss army knife that can do it all.

Fat

Fats typically provide more than half of the body's energy needs. Fat from food is broken down into fatty acids, which can travel in the blood and be captured by hungry cells. Fatty acids that aren't needed right away are packaged in bundles called triglycerides and stored in fat cells, which have unlimited capacity.


Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates, on the other hand, can only be stored in limited quantities, so the body is eager to use them for energy. We can only store a day or two of carbs, with in the muscles before they are stored as fats. The carbohydrates in food are digested into small molecules known as glucose or a sugar that is easily converted to glucose, (like fructose or lactose), that can be absorbed through the small intestine's walls. After a quick stop in the liver, glucose enters the circulatory system, causing blood glucose levels to rise. The body's cells hoover up this mealtime glut of glucose more readily than fat.


Once the cells are full of glucose, the liver stores some of the excess for distribution between meals should blood glucose levels start to fall below a certain level. If there is leftover glucose beyond what the liver can hold, it can be turned into fat for long-term storage so none is wasted (fat). When carbohydrates are scarce, the body runs mainly on fats. If energy needs exceed those provided by fats in the diet, the body must liquidate some of its fat tissue for energy (achieved through creating caloric deficit).

While these fats are a welcome source of energy for most of the body, a few types of cells, such as brain cells, have special needs. These cells could easily run on glucose from the diet, but they can't run on fatty acids directly. So under low-carbohydrate conditions, these cells need the body to make fat-like molecules called ketones. This is why a very low carbohydrate diet is often referred to  as a "ketogenic." Ketone bodies could on their own provide enough energy for the parts of the body that can't metabolize fatty acids, but some tissues still require at least some glucose, which isn't normally made from fat. Instead, glucose can be made in the liver and kidneys using protein from elsewhere in the body. But take care: If not enough protein is provided by the diet, the body starts chewing on muscle cells.