This is a question that everyone asks themselves at one point in their life. From the average person trying to lose 30 lbs to athletes to body builders, everyone responds differently and needs a different type of diet.
Carbohydrates increase the hormone insulin. Then insulin shoves carbohydrates into cells and stores them as fat. The more insulin and carbohydrates you have, the more fat there will be.
The only way to lose weight is to remove the carbohydrates that are causing the fat to be stored in the body. Once you reduce and eliminate these, then your body will burn the fat stored as a source of energy.
Now that you know how your body makes fat the next thing you have to do is identify what your health goals are:
- If your goal is to lose weight...
YES, a low carb diet is for you. As I explained above you can't lose weight until you eliminate the thing that's creating fat, which is carbs.
Low-carb is a general term, but in most cases it would mean 120 grams or less per day. Also, you want to make sure that you are setting yourself up for something that you can maintain long term. Most people can't maintain zero carbs per day, they will eventually crash and binge on all the unhealthy processed carbs, gaining the weight right back. So creating a game plan, having meals ready and being prepared is half the battle.Stay away from carbs made in a lab. This includes all the pre-packaged foods, breads, pasta, rice and cereal.
- If your goal is to maintain where you are and feel better...
A moderate/low-carb diet is for you! If you are coming out of a low carb diet and moving to the next step of your diet, stay around the 150 grams of carb range per day. This range is good especially if you are going to the gym and doing moderate intensity workouts.
Keep a journal and write down what you eat and how you feel from day to day to give you a good idea if you are eating the right amount. If you can't lose those extra pounds, then drop the carbs down a few grams and see what happens.
If you are an athlete and want to perform at your highest potential...
A low-carb diet might not be for you! Depending on your exercise routine and your metabolism, you need to make sure that you are getting enough healthy carbohydrates on a regular basis. I see a lot of people who work out extremely hard but they don't eat enough carbs; so they experience fatigue, memory problems and sleep problems. Eating an extremely low-carb diet and working out very hard, such as when doing Crossfit or running a marathon, not getting enough carbs could slow you progress.
Extreme athletes should eat more healthy carbs than the average person. Large fruits (such as oranges), berries and vegetables should be consumed often. Sweet potatoes should be a staple in your diet. Aim for 150 grams of carbs or more a day, but don't go too crazy with it and overdo it.
- If you are trying to gain weight and bulk up for power lifting or pre-competition body building
Low-carb definitely isn't for you unless you are preparing for a figure competition!
You want to have as much healthy carbs in your diet as you can get. Go crazy with fruits, veggies and sweet potatoes. Eat them throughout the day and with every meal.