Low-carb diets are often sworn by as the ultimate way to shed the pounds quickly! However, not everyone can profess to this. The universe knows I have spent the last two years on and off low carb diets with no visible results *sad face*
So, finally I dived deeper and researched a few reasons as to why this low-carb phenomena and my body were not getting along. The results aren’t shocking and will definitely apply to many of you.
1. You are stressed (even if you keep saying that you are not!)
Stress has a funny way of revealing itself. Sometimes, we think and feel fine without realizing just how stressed we really are. I think it is important for all to understand that almost everything presents itself as stress. For example:
- Eating food that we may have an intolerance to – causes ‘gastro-intestinal stress’
- Exercise – causes ‘Physical Stress’
- Shouting at the TV
- Road rage
- Someone leaving an empty milk carton in the fridge
- Broken coffee machine with no ‘out of order sign’
- Lack of a full night’s sleep
The list is almost endless, but I think I have made my point. We stress over almost everything.
So, how does this affect your low-carb diet?
The short answer is stress imbalances our hormones and causes us to produce high levels of ‘Cortisol’.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released when we stress. It is released by the adrenal gland as part of our ‘Fight or Flight’ response. As cortisol is released, it travels through the blood stream and converts amino acids into sugars or glucose for immediate energy. However, Cortisol isn’t biased and does not know if your stress is due to being in serious danger or overly excited, and therefore the excess glucose that it creates gets put into storage as fat. In addition, excess cortisol production causes us to crave sweet and unhealthy foods (1) – ultimately sabotaging the benefits of going low-carb.
2. You don’t sleep ENOUGH or You sleep TOO MUCH!
It’s easy to blame social media, netflix, whatsapp groups and the new fast-paced technology life that we have all been sucked in to, for keeping us up at night. BUT….the buck stops with us.
Sleep is essential for more reasons than I can list right now, but in direct relevance to this topic, studies show that lack of enough sleep and over-sleeping is one of the prime causes of weight gain and obesity (2). In addition, not sleeping properly can make you feel more tired, less motivated and even hungrier (3).
3. You’re eating too much dairy!
Food choices are fairly limited or short of imagination for many people when following a low-carb diet and naturally we opt for high protein and fat sources, dairy being a hugely popular choice. However, dairy contains high levels or protein, which like carbs can raise your insulin levels causing excess glucose to be stored as fat.
Most important to note is that the amino-acid profile of dairy based protein makes it very potent to spiking your insulin levels almost as much as simple carbs (4).
Try to scale back on milk, cheese, yoghurts and cream.
4. You are eating too many calories
When we are eating healthy foods we tend to forget all about the calories and just assume because it’s good the calories won’t affect us.
Well…that is just wrong. Period.
Calories are units of energy and although they are not all nutritious the energy they give off has to be used otherwise it goes into storage and we only store calories as fat!
The simple rule of thumb is ‘Calories in = Calories Out” – If you burn more calories than you eat then you will lose weight, if you burn less calories than you eat then you can expect to gain weight.
If you think you may be eating too much, consider using our calorie calculator in the sidebar (or at the bottom of the page if you are reading this article on a mobile).
5. You are nuts (I mean you eat too many nuts!)
Nuts are high in fat (good and bad – depends on how they are prepared), which means they are also high in calories. 1 gram of fat = 9 kilocalories.
Nuts may be small but they are calorie dense, making them extremely easy to eat without feeling full quickly. In addition, fat is the slowest food of all macronutrients to digest and doesn’t always provide you with quick enough energy. This can often lead to you feeling more hungry and craving sweet/sugary foods.
Low-carb diets work well, however, they require attention to detail. Carbs are found in over 80% of all foods, even the one’s that you thought were completely carb free. So be sure to really structure out a meal plan that will help you to stay on the right path.
If you are still really struggling with Low-Carbs try ‘Flexible Dieting‘