Low Carbohydrate Diet in Weight Loss Management

Most overweight and obese individuals express a willingness in shedding off weight to achieve a normal weight. This is usually a tough journey that requires patience and commitment should it be realized in a healthy way.

A common challenge that’s often met while on this journey is that of stagnating after losing some few kilograms or in some, gaining some weight out of frustration. One of the reasons this could be attributed to is the body’s response to the kind of the food being taken while in the process of weight reduction.


Factors that affect Weight Management

obese woman


Weight management can be affected by various factors which include:
  • Diet choice
  • Physical activity level
  • Hormones
  • Metabolic rate

When the body losses weight, it responds by defending itself by regaining the lost energy. The hunger increases and the metabolic weight decreases thus there will be quicker deposition of calories as fat in the body.



Hormones

There are two hormones responsible for weight management:
  • Ghrelin 
  • Leptin.
Ghrelin is a hormone responsible for boosting appetite while Leptin is responsible for long term energy balance and keeping weight stable, thus encouraging weight loss.

Ghrelin induces appetite and makes an individual to eat more food. When one has had enough food, leptin is sent to brain to decrease appetite. High secretion of leptin thus becomes more important when managing weight for it reduces food intake and prompts the body to instead use the stored fat for energy.

Most obese or overweight people however develop a resistance to leptin especially when the level of this hormone becomes high. In such situations, even with high levels of hormone the body does not receive the signal to stop feeling hungry and instead make use of the stored fat for energy.


Relationship between Carbohydrate Intake and Weight Loss

A certain research was done at Harvard T.H. CHAN School of Public Health to identify whether different levels of carbohydrate intake may affect weight loss.

In this 20-week study, respondents were assigned into three groups consisting of diets having different levels of carbohydrates: a high carbohydrate-low fat diet, a moderate carbohydrate-fat diet and a low carbohydrate-high fat diet. In all three diets the protein level was constant.

The group with the low carbohydrate diet showed an increase in energy expenditure (burned more energy) than the other two groups. Those on the moderate carbohydrate diet had a slightly lower energy expenditure but higher than that of the high carbohydrate diet group.

In the low carbohydrate diet, both Ghrelin and Leptin hormones decreased thus promoting weight loss. The decreased levels of Leptin in this context are beneficial as this improved its sensitivity (lowered resistance since high levels cause resistance).

This results suggest that a low carbohydrate diet is more favourable to maintaining weight loss. However, one should also consider the quality of the diet, as a healthy diet is not only key in maintaining a normal weight but also in preventing diet related diseases.
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