An Important Benefit of a Low Carb Diet

Many benefits have been discovered about eating low carb when dieting and trying to succeed with easy weight loss programs.  We all know that a low carb diet is the fastest way to burn fat.  Studies comparing different types of diets show that those on a low carb diet lose weight quicker and lose more total weight.  

Another very important benefit is that once you have lost weight on a low carbohydrate diet, your resting metabolism is higher than if you were to lose weight on a low calorie/fat diet.  As people lose weight, it's natural for metabolism to drop.  This happens mostly because as you lose fat with weight loss, you lose some muscle.  Muscle is a major contributor to your metabolism.  This particular study revealed that the Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) after weight loss on a low carbohydrate diet was about 300 calories/day higher than after weight loss on a low calorie diet. 

This is a very important point for weight maintenance.  Once you have lost weight, having a higher metabolism makes it easier to maintain that lost weight.  In fact, studies that compare low calorie and low carbohydrate diets show that more people are able to maintain their weight loss having lost weight on a low carbohydrate diet than on a low fat or low calorie diet.  

Another important observation from this study was that people maintaining weight on a low carbohydrate diet appeared to burn more fat at rest.  The respiratory quotient (RQ) is a measure of how much carbohydrates and fat you burn.  The values for the RQ are between 0.7 and 1.0.  At 0.7, you're burning a higher percentage of fat and at 1.0, you're burning mostly carbohydrates.  The study showed that before starting the study, the RQ of all study subjects was 0.901.  During the weight loss maintenance phase, subjects who had lost weight with the low fat diet had a RQ of 0.905 and those who had lost weight on a low carbohydrate diet had a RQ of 0.835. 

It should be noted that there were some observed downsides of the low carbohydrate diet.  Levels of the stress hormone cortisol were noted to be elevated. It's not clear why this happened and has been observed in other studies. The implications of higher cortisol levels is uncertain, especially since other blood elements like cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin sensitivity improved during the course of the study.  Additional studies with larger study populations will need to be done to further explore the significance of this finding.

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