A question I often get asked about low carb is;
Do you think most people who embark on a low carb ‘diet’ do put weight back on after a couple of years?
Good question and I ask myself the same thing often. In short the answer is yes…and …..no.
When we embark on a low carb diet, we are driven predominantly by weight-loss. As a result we adhere strictly, and lose weight rapidly (which in itself is an incentive to adhere to a weight-loss approach). Very few of us however, are able to adhere fully to a very low carb dietary approach for sustained periods. Frequently ‘higher’ carb foods and drinks sneak back in and become the norm;
Fruit – I abstained completely from fruit for several months when starting out low carb, however recently the availability of fresh, local, and delicious fruit has me regularly snacking on a fresh plum, peach, or apple. While I do restrict myself to 1 or 2 small pieces a day, my daily carb count has increased as a result.
Alcohol – As above, I abstained completely while in my ‘weight loss’ phase, but not surprisingly, being partial to a good Pinot Noir, my alcohol intake has gradually reverted to a wine on a daily basis. No better way for me to unwind after a busy day at work than with a glass of wine in hand!! While I am not concerned about the carb count as such, alcohol does provide a stash of ‘empty’ calories that need to be burnt, and will put your fat burning on hold as they burn. Note that alcohol is considered the 4th energy source along with carbs, protein and fat!
Treats – It is very likely that those very high carb treats such as chocolate, desserts, potato chips etc, that were taboo during your weight-loss phase have become a little too tempting. While they may be few and far between, when added to other bad habits, may be contributing to your weight gain.
Aging – Without doubt the act of aging makes both weight loss and weight stability difficult. We all gain weight as we age. In women this tends to be around the middle and upper body, and therefore quite obvious. If you are keeping your weight relatively stable through middle age, you are doing well. Consider yourself effectively losing weight if you are weight stable in a life stage that is hell bent on increasing your weight!!
Portion size – Are you just eating too much, even if it is low carb food you are eating? When we start eating a diet based on low carb and higher fat foods, the feeling of fullness (created by an increase in healthy fats), prevents us from eating too much. I do think however, that as we get accustomed to this way of eating it is easy to stop listening to our body telling us we have had enough. A few more nuts than necessary, eating lunch when you are actually not hungry. More importantly, allowing yourself to get hungry then over eating to compensate.
To summarise; if you are remaining very strict with your low carb dietary approach, I am sure your weight will remain stable. If however, your human instincts are taking over, and you are indulging in a few extra carbs here and there, it is likely that your weight may start to creep up again.Very few of us can sustain a very low carb diet for the rest of our lives. My advice it to enjoy life, eat food most of the time that makes you feel good. By default these foods will be lower carbohydrate, unprocessed, whole foods. Focus less on weight loss and more on your general health and wellbeing. If your weight is creeping up, think about the points I have outlined above and consider embarking on a low carb boot camp for a week or 2 to get yourself back on track.