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It seems like everyone's saying to ditch carbs to lose weight these days. Is there any difference between cutting carbs vs cutting fats or proteins?

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Everything is good in moderation, and all diets, including no-carbs ones, require accomodation. If you cut off simple carbs abruptly you may actually start eating more because satiety is a complex thing and fats alone are often not enough for it. You may eat a plate of meat and feel full yet still hungry. – Mischa Arefiev Dec 30 '13 at 13:39
+1 Thoughtful question. Why the downvote? – Josh Dec 31 '13 at 22:52
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Enemy is a strong word, and carbohydrates can be a great fuel source for athletes and those engaged in any training program. However, as the saying goes, Too much of a good thing... When you take a bite of something that contains carbohydrates, the carbs will eventually convert to blood glucose (blood sugar). A high level of blood sugar can be toxic, so the body, not wanting to die, tells the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin to direct the sugar in the blood to hungry cells, where it is stored as glycogen. A problem results however, when too many carbs are eaten because cells can only hold so much glycogen. After a while they start flipping insulin the bird, telling it that they don't want any more blood sugar directed to them. Insulin is persistent however, and refuses to take no for an answer, so it continues to try harder and harder (releases more and more insulin) to get the blood sugar into the cells. Once cells are fully and begin ignoring insulin, they are whats called insulin resistant and this not only is a hindrance to fat loss goals, but can eventually lead to diabetes. Additionally, when insulin is released, you are not as efficient at burning fat. The solution, is to mix in lower carbohydrate days with normal, and higher ones. By keeping the carb intake a variable, your system wont constantly be flooded with insulin and you'll become more of what's called insulin sensitive, which means your cells are welcoming insulin and you are running efficiently. Resistance training has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, so including that could help increase your fat loss efforts in multiple ways, as well.

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In addition to Anabolic Animal's answer: when insulin is released, after you have eaten carbs, then:

  1. the excess carbs will get converted to fat
  2. your body won't use fat stores for energy

And this is why low carb (like the Atkins) diets work so well. Without high levels on insulin, the body starts using its fat stores for energy.

Back to your original question, ditching fat would likely mean that you'd end up eating even more carbs and, although it seems unintuitive at first, would mean that you get fatter due to the insulin response. Ditching protein would be a bad idea as you need it to repair muscles (and build larger muscles).

I am currently doing a low carb diet myself and, so far, have had good results with respect to fat loss. If you're also working out then you don't want to ditch carbs completely, but you do need to moderate them. If you are interested in such a diet, I recommend Total Six Pack Abs by Mark McManus. He goes into a good level of detail and has based his work on scientific research (with a decent amount of references to scientific papers), rather than just gym chat! He's also got a decent website called MuscleHack, which is worth checking out as it has lots of info regarding fats and carbs etc.

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