the Science of Low Carb
You are a Winner! Did you know that? You were the winner in the biggest race of your life, and you may not even be aware.
See, once there was this egg, and it was waiting on a sperm. Your sperm was at the starting line with about 280 million other race contestants. The shot was fired and you were out of the gate, in the race for your life. Literally. So you swam, and elbowed, and cut-off all the other little guys, fighting and clawing your way to the finish line. And you won! Congratulations.
It was at that point that two genetic materials came together and created a living, breathing organism. That organism was you. And you had all the best characteristics of your mother and father. These characteristics have been passed down from all of your ancestors since the first man ever walked the earth. Generation to generation, we pass down the things we learn as a species. The things that make us better. The things that make us stronger.
Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. There were no supermarkets. There was no such thing as a Twinkie. They lived off of what they could dig up from the ground, pull off a plant, or kill. And that is how the entire species of man has evolved. We are a hunter/gatherer species. Our bodies expect large amounts of fat, some protein, and few carbs. That is the perfect fuel combination for our biological machine.
All of the food we consume can be categorized into these three main categories, known as Macronutrients. Fats, Protein, and Carbohydrates (Macronutrients) are responsible for providing us with all of our calories and energy. They are responsible for our metabolism, growth, and for all of the functions our bodies require on a daily basis. And just like you can give a race car different fuel mixtures for optimal performance, you can change the combinations of the Macronutrients to tweak how your body runs.
So, what exactly are the Macronutrients?
The body needs large amounts of all the Macronutrients every day. Here are their job functions.
You have probably heard that Proteins are the building blocks of life. Its job is to repair tissues and build bone. It helps to grow muscles, form cartilage, and renew skin. Protein is also used to make blood, hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals in the body. Your immune system uses Protein to defend against viruses and bacteria by creating Antibodies in your blood. Protein is not stored in the body like the other Macronutrients. What you don’t use is flushed out of your system in your urine. The good news is that Protein can be converted into glucose for energy. Since it takes the body twice as much effort to convert Protein to glucose than it does Fat or Carbohydrates, then it consumes more calories in the process. A diet with good Protein intake also makes you feel “full” faster, thus eliminating the overall calories consumed in a day.
On the other side of the coin, you have probably heard that Fat is your worst enemy and is a heart attack waiting to happen. While there are certain fats we should avoid (and we’ll talk about all that later on), getting quality fats in your Low Carb diet should be a top priority. There was a big “to do” in Washington, D.C. back in the 80’s. Certain Politicians with their own agendas hired nutritionists and public health officials to advise we stop eating so much fat. Thus the “low fat” craze was born, introducing high-processed, man-made fats into our diets which are MUCH worse for us than normal Saturated Fat.
Fat slows down the digestion process, keeping you from feeling hungry through the day. It also adds taste to your meals. Fats provide EFA (Essential Fatty Acids) known as LA (linoleic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). These are considered essential, because our bodies cannot produce these acids, we obtain them by eating Fat. The LA and ALA support cell membranes when they are converted into chemical regulators, affecting blood clotting, inflammation, and blood vessel dilation. Fats also dissolve to transport fat-soluble nutrients like phytochemicals (used to fight disease) and vitamins. There are good and bad fats. Common dogma dictates that Saturated Fat will clog your arteries. This is simply not true. Look at the diets of all of our ancestors through history before agriculture came along. Heck, you don’t even have to look back in time. Modern tribal people of today, including the Inuit, Masai, and Tokelau tribes consume upwards of 50% of saturated fats in their diets and have far superior cardiovascular health than most Americans do. Good sources of Fat can be found in foods like meat, nuts, olives, seeds, avocados, and coconuts.
The basic structure of a Carbohydrate is a sugar molecule. They are fast energy, and thus, the body prefers to burn Carbohydrates as energy. The problem arises when we follow the SAD (Standard American Diet). The SAD diet recommends far too many Carbohydrates on a daily basis, and most Americans don’t even follow the recommendations. They go overboard, which is easy to do when eating “food” from most grocery store shelves these days. Processed food is full of sugar and empty calories. Your body can’t process all of that sugar in an efficient manner leading to insulin insensitivity and type 2 Diabetes. Plus, we don’t exercise enough to burn off all those extra Carbohydrates and empty calories, so what we are left with is a surplus of Carbohydrates in the body at the end of the day. The extra Carbohydrates are turned into and stored as Fat to be used for energy at a later date. This has led to rising obesity in Americans and other industrialized nations.
Carbohydrates in and of themselves are not bad. In fact, as a Macronutrient they are needed. But following a Low Carb diet forces you to be conscious of what Carbs you are putting into your body, and as such, hopefully leads you to choose better Carbs found in natural foods like vegetables and fruits. We are proponents of eating as many quality vegetables as you can on a daily basis, and some fruits (depending on your level of Carb intake), and advise against starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn.
Putting it all together…
So, in essence, the Science of Low Carb diets works like this:
When we reduce the amount of Carbohydrates in our diets, our body is forced to find an alternative source of fuel. It turns to the Fat reserves stored on our bodies, which is, after all, why those reserves exist in the first place. The small amount of Carbohydrates that you intake on a daily basis helps in the conversion of Fat to energy. The Protein that we eat is there for all of the normal Protein functions, but also to help insure that your body does not begin to cannibalize your muscles as a source of energy.
And that’s it. Pretty easy, right? This way of living changes you from being a sugar burner into being a fat burner! And, if you are currently insulin resistant or diabetic, you can actually reverse these problems and begin to live a fully functional and healthy lifestyle!