What is the ideal diet to lose weight? Should you remove carbohydrates or fat from your diet? No and we explain why.
What is the ideal diet to lose weight? This is a hotly debated topic, both in society and in the scientific community. It is true that, in order to lose weight, there must be a calorie deficit, that is, we must expend more energy than we are consuming. However, there are many diets and eating strategies that allow this calorie deficit to be achieved, and not all of them are healthy or safe, namely removing carbohydrates or fat from your diet.
REMOVE CARBOHYDRATES OR FAT FROM YOUR DIET
One of the current trends for those who want to lose weight or practice a healthier diet has been the restriction of a nutrient in their diet, mainly carbohydrates or fats. However, these macronutrients are present in most of the foods that make up our dietary base or that must be included regularly in our diet in order to obtain health benefits.
If you start a diet free of carbohydrate sources, you will be eliminating not only bread, potatoes, rice and pasta, but also fruit, vegetables or oats. If you start a diet free of fat sources, you will eliminate butter and fried foods, but also olive oil, nuts and seeds.
How does the body react to a regime that is too restrictive?
Firstly, it is important to understand that each nutrient has several biological functions that are essential for the normal functioning of our body.
Carbohydrates are one of the body’s main energy suppliers and are essential for the functioning of nervous tissue and the brain. They also allow the regulation of intestinal transit, participate in the regulation of glycaemia (blood sugar levels) and are a source of essential vitamins and minerals (such as iron, zinc and B vitamins) .
Lipids (commonly called fats) are the main form of energy storage in the human body. They are sources of fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin E, a vitamin with antioxidant action) and may also have a cardio protective function.
As these nutrients are responsible for (or participate in) such fundamental processes, it is almost expectable that completely removing carbohydrates or fat from our diet will have negative consequences for our health. But what does the scientific evidence tell us?
5 CONSEQUENCES TO BE AWARE OF
There is initial weight loss, which does not necessarily translate into loss of fat mass
If we restrict carbohydrates in our diet, there is rapid initial weight loss. However, studies report that this is due to a rapid loss of body water and not necessarily the loss of fat mass.
Restriction of foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals
Some highly restrictive carbohydrate diets, such as the ketogenic diet, may involve a restriction of up to 10-20g per day. This value is equivalent to, for example, just 1 piece of fruit.
Therefore, there is a clear inadequacy in the intake of fruits and vegetables, which may compromise the supply of vitamins and minerals necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
Fatigue, weakness or cognitive changes may occur
Since carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, when starting a restrictive diet, manifestations of fatigue, difficulty concentrating or impairment of the cognitive process or episodes of dizziness or weakness may appear .
You may have associated gastrointestinal symptoms
A carbohydrate-free diet may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal discomfort. Furthermore, there are reports of adverse effects on the intestinal micro biota .
It may result in renal and cardiovascular complications
Studies report the adverse effects of the ketogenic diet: changes in the lipid profile (with an increase in total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides) and kidney overload or dysfunction (with the development of so-called “kidney stones”).
Furthermore, it is important to note that, in carbohydrate-free diets, there may be an increase in the consumption of products of animal origin and, consequently, of saturated fats (whose negative effect on cardiovascular health and health in general is already well documented).
03 CONSEQUENCES OF COMPLETELY REMOVING FAT FROM YOUR DIET
Reducing the intake of unsaturated fats, which have a protective effect on cardiovascular function
Omega -3s are essential fatty acids that can only be obtained from food (fatty fish, nuts or flax or chia seeds). These are associated with beneficial cardiovascular effects such as improving the lipid profile (with reduced triglyceride levels) and reducing the risk of cardiovascular events (such as coronary disease, stroke or myocardial infarction).
Reduced fat consumption with a positive effect on depression symptoms
In addition to their beneficial effects on a cardiovascular level, omega-3s have anti-inflammatory activity that is related to improving mental health. Some interventional studies have found that supplementation with a specific type of omega-3 (eicosapentaenoic acid – EPA) has a positive clinical effect on depression, allowing the establishment of an association between the intake of omega-3 (namely EPA) and the reduction of depressive symptoms .
Reduced intake of nutrients with antioxidant function
Some nutrients present in foods rich in fat have antioxidant functions that are beneficial to the body. Vitamin E is essentially obtained from vegetable oils, egg yolks, oilseed fruits or seeds.
In our body, it acts as an antioxidant that protects the cell membrane from oxidative stress. This function suggests that vitamin E may be important in protecting the body and preventing pathologies associated with oxidative stress.