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Is low-carb better the more you have to lose?

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Old 11-24-2011, 06:40 AM   #1
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Default Is low-carb better the more you have to lose?

Unfortunately I read this the other week and haven't a clue where I found it, but there's a theory out there that low-carb works better for people who have more weight to lose, and is less likely to suit people closer to a healthy weight. How do people feel about this?

I've only tried one side of it - I never had that much to lose, I started at a BMI of 28.5 - but that side fits me. I've certainly done fine on a medium/higher carb diet: steady weight loss, feeling satiated, very rarely having issues with hunger. I do find that satiation and blood sugar and so forth work much better when I eat wholegrains, and of course I'm avoiding sugar. People always talk about protein being the best thing for them in terms of satiation and energy, and it doesn't really work like that for me. I obediently try to get more protein into my diet to be on the safe side, but I rarely notice any difference from doing so.

One thing that annoys me about referring to diets as low-carb or high-carb is that this way of naming erases the complexity of carbohydrates. Some people have to restrict carbs hugely no matter what sort of carbs they try, other people have to cut out sugars but do beautifully on complex carbs, and still others find that the issue isn't as much carbs as it is wheat or grains in general.

But ignoring all that for a moment, does the original theory seem to hold?
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Old 11-24-2011, 06:45 AM   #2
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The "best" method is whatever works for you specifically.

Since you are vegan, low carb (and higher protein) would be very difficult because satisfying vegan foods contain a decent amount of carbs (ie. lentils, seitan as opposed to a vegan protein powder which is quickly digested). I used to be vegan - there's no way I could stay happy and healthy on a lower carb diet then!

I find lower carb (meaning around 100-120g with the 'best' choices - sweet potato, whole grains, fruits, etc.) and higher protein to be very satisfying, but I am also a weightlifter and it's the best path for me.

And then the other part is those that restrict carbs are also cutting out their most triggering foods - bagels, bread, pasta, etc. It's like some who choose a dairy-free diet to specifically prevent themselves from their trigger cheeses, ice creams, etc. (happens!)
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Old 11-24-2011, 08:26 AM   #3
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The "best" method is whatever works for you specifically.
Absolutely! I'm just curious to know whether there really is a trend as suggested by that article which I can't find. Although it may end up being too complicated to work out, with all those factors involved.
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Old 11-24-2011, 08:53 AM   #4
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I am a healthy weight, but want to get a bit lighter and fitter. Low carb doesn't work for me because a lot of my weight loss is dependent on the calories I burn exercising. I don't want to lose muscle.

I simply need carbs to work out (I do a lot of running). I tried low carb for a bit while maintaining my exercise regime. It was insanely horrific.

But I am still not high carb - just moderate.

More protein definitely helps keep most feeling satiated, but it does not help fuel a long workout. I really think long term low carb suits people with a somewhat more sedentary lifestyle - who work out lightly a few times a week.
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Old 11-24-2011, 09:41 AM   #5
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I think the idea is that very heavy people are more likely to have food addictions, blood sugar/insulin resistance problems, potentially PCOS, and overeating issues, so blood sugar control and satiety elements of low-carb address those things better than a high-carb diet. Since extremely obese people's bodies are usually fairly amenable to losing the weight quickly given the right conditions, it works well for them. At lower weights it's still very much a numbers game; I count macronutrients and calories and stick to an overall lower-carb plan. At lower weights it's the point where the body wants to keep the fat for future reserves, and gets a bit annoyed at you when you try to make it burn some of it off. XD
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Old 11-24-2011, 09:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Esofia View Post
Unfortunately I read this the other week and haven't a clue where I found it, but there's a theory out there that low-carb works better for people who have more weight to lose, and is less likely to suit people closer to a healthy weight. How do people feel about this?
I've not seen the reference, but I can speculate... people who are more overweight are at higher risk for metabolic diseases and presumably pre-disease stages. So, in general, you could imagine that people who are more overweight are more likely to be insulin resistant and have wilder blood sugar swings, carb cravings/addictions etc. So, more people who are more overweight might find a low carb approach more helpful.

That doesn't mean that it's a good fit for all folks who have a lot of weight to lose or that thin folks can't find it useful.

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Originally Posted by Esofia View Post
I've only tried one side of it - I never had that much to lose, I started at a BMI of 28.5 - but that side fits me. I've certainly done fine on a medium/higher carb diet: steady weight loss, feeling satiated, very rarely having issues with hunger. I do find that satiation and blood sugar and so forth work much better when I eat wholegrains, and of course I'm avoiding sugar. People always talk about protein being the best thing for them in terms of satiation and energy, and it doesn't really work like that for me. I obediently try to get more protein into my diet to be on the safe side, but I rarely notice any difference from doing so.
In my laboratory of one, I've found that a meal of protein to the exclusion of other stuff isn't very filling. I like a little carb and healthy fat along with my protein to feel full. But I do try to stay on the low side of carbs or at least make sure it's buffered with lots of fiber.

I do recall hearing that protein gives you more bang for the buck because it it harder to metabolize and in fact you only get to use about 80% of the calories that are listed (IIRC). I think there are also differences in terms of how costly it is to convert the different macronutrients into a form suitable for storage that are also not taken into account in the calories.
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:32 AM   #7
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I've never heard that about low carb working best for more obese individuals. However, I agree that it does make sense in terms of food addictions/blood sugar issues/PCOS etc. That being said I lost weight on the S. Beach Diet before in my life when I was about 30lbs overweight. It's not something really sustainable for me but I know it works well for others.

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Originally Posted by yoyoma View Post
In my laboratory of one, I've found that a meal of protein to the exclusion of other stuff isn't very filling. I like a little carb and healthy fat along with my protein to feel full. But I do try to stay on the low side of carbs or at least make sure it's buffered with lots of fiber.

I do recall hearing that protein gives you more bang for the buck because it it harder to metabolize and in fact you only get to use about 80% of the calories that are listed (IIRC). I think there are also differences in terms of how costly it is to convert the different macronutrients into a form suitable for storage that are also not taken into account in the calories.
Protein is an absolute must for me. I've tried being vegetarian before but would get horrible meat cravings. As is I feel best when I eat red meat for at least one meal on a daily basis with eggs for breakfast. DH isn't like that and while he loves the taste of red meat, he does just fine in terms of satiety with eating chicken or fish (for me that does almost nothing!). I'd even go so far to say he doesn't need meat to feel full like I do but he loves it so much he'll never give it up (whereas I don't have that same affinity for it but I feel like I need it), does that make sense? All that is to say you have to figure out what works with your own body in terms of feeling full.

Actualy, when I first started seeing a nutritionist part of it was because I was HUNGRY. You know what she made me add into my diet that helped a lot? Whole grains and fruit. I still don't eat a ton (and she's always getting on me to eat more fruit) but it's helped a lot as long as it's always whole grains and it's combined with a protein. I've found I'm even able to eat less calories/day now.. go figure!

In the end do what works for you. i know you're frustrated by your weight loss slowing down now that you're getting close to your goal weight but, unfortunately, this is fairly normal. Also, you said on another thread that you're still consistently losing, which is great! Do you really want to mess with what's working?
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:46 AM   #8
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very interesting. I did not lose weight on WW (3 months and no cheats, only lost 1 lb) Stayed the same on Nutrisystem. Tried IP and lost ( IP is low carbs and lean protein) I am post meno and hypothyroid and lowering the carbs is what worked for me. I eat tons of non-starchy veggies and drink lots of water too.
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:51 AM   #9
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Runningfromfat - Good heavens, I'm not planning to change anything about my diet plan, and I'm only very mildly peeved that the weight loss is slowing down. (This winter may see me in some seriously ill-fitting sweaters!) I'm just curious about this on a theoretical level, because some people swear by low-carb and others just don't get on with it at all. Possibly this theory is hugely oversimplifying to the point where it's useless, however. Although the points about people of a higher weight being more likely to have insulin resistance and the like do make sense here.

Incidentally, I did get starving hungry most of the time before I started losing weight. It's why I put off dieting for years, I didn't think I had a chance. The main things I changed when I started dieting were stricter meal times, portion control, and less snacking, and doing that seemed to stop me from feeling hungry. It's odd, you'd think it would take more than that. My doctor does actually suspect PCOS, she's going to run some blood tests sooner or later.

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Old 11-24-2011, 10:56 AM   #10
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Runningfromfat - Good heavens, I'm not planning to change anything about my diet plan, and I'm only very mildly peeved that the weight loss is slowing down. (This winter may see me in some seriously ill-fitting sweaters!) I'm just curious about this on a theoretical level, because some people swear by low-carb and others just don't get on with it at all. Possibly this theory is hugely oversimplifying to the point where it's useless, however. Although the points about people of a higher weight being more likely to have insulin resistance and the like do make sense here.

Incidentally, I did get starving hungry most of the time before I started losing weight. It's why I put off dieting for years, I didn't think I had a chance. The main things I changed when I started dieting were stricter meal times, portion control, and less snacking, and doing that seemed to stop me from feeling hungry. It's odd, you'd think it would take more than that. My doctor does actually suspect PCOS, she's going to run some blood tests sooner or later.
Ah ok. Sorry, i just assumed that because of your other post.

I actually think figuring out what makes you hungry and how to avoid that is probably one of the biggest keys to weight loss. Especially if you're someone who is guilty of overeating but not necessarily emotional eating (although it can certainly help with that too!). The problem is, is that it's different for everyone and it's interesting that for you it's more about meal times/portion control than it is about the food content itself (at least that's what i gather from your post). I wish I could say the same but I notice a very direct relation to my hunger levels on days that I eat less meat. Good luck on the blood tests, hopefully you get some answers there.
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:28 AM   #11
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I suppose that depends on what sort of diet you start with. I was already on a good diet for me, I'd briefly consulted a dietician a while back, but she had been useless when it came to the losing weight side of things, so I was mainly just eating too much. There was the odd thing I knew I was already doing wrong, occasional packets of biscuits and what have you, plus some boredom eating or exhaustion eating (it's really easy to feel that food is the answer when you're exhausted, I've had to learn to distinguish between truly needing something to perk up my blood sugar and just needing to go back to bed instead), but mostly it was that I was eating quite erratically, both in terms of when I ate and how much I ate. Sleep disorders and general chaotic routines were making this worse, along with often being too ill to prepare or even just fetch food, or forgetting whether or not I'd eaten that day. So a lot of that is probably about blood sugar too. I actually started dieting when I temporarily lost my appetite due to meds, and it made me realise that it was possible to diet. I wasn't on those meds for long (bizarrely, they usually make people hungry if anything), but I am forever grateful for the kickstart they gave me.

I do make an effort to combine my proteins, which is commonly recommended for vegans, and it tends to lead to a nicely balanced meal in terms of satiety and blood sugar and such. Since I'm on a low-fat diet due to gallstones, the nut/seed group is mostly on hold at the moment. This usually means that I'm combining pulses and grains, resulting in a nice balance of protein, complex carbs and fibre. Add a big pile of vegetables and yep, that's a good meal for me. I've tried protein powder in porridge, but I'm not sure if it's really worth the slightly dodgy taste, although porridge is generally a sound breakfast for me. I've just discovered a soya mince which is very high in protein and low in carbs/fat, and adding that to supper last night made it extremely filling. It seems to be a combination of ingredients for me that does the trick. Obviously I find some foods more filling than others, and some more moreish too, but I presume that's true of everyone.

I'm sure it makes a difference for me that I'm not exercising, of course. Most people here are exercising, as far as I can tell (and keeping very quiet if they're not!), and that increases the need for protein, right?

Thanks for the good wishes about the blood tests. It may be a few months, as we need to time it around my menstrual cycle along with when my GP is in the surgery. I keep meaning to post to a FAM forum to ask when they reckon I should time it, as I get weird temp shifts during my periods. Possibly, of course, that is part of the problem. Hmm, maybe I should be finding a PCOS forum instead.

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Old 11-24-2011, 11:44 AM   #12
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I started out a BMI of 32 and I've never been low-carb. I'm now down to 154 from a high of 190. Low-carb doesn't seem to help me lose any faster so I stick to what makes me happy, which is healthy carbs. And while I do eat meat, I only do so 1-2 times a week usually, so being low-carb isn't really even possible (especially since the only nuts I like are peanuts and the only seeds are sunflower seeds).

I know low-carb is all the rage nowadays, but it doesn't do anything for me.
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:57 AM   #13
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Another interesting point: Thin for Life, which seems to be well-respected around here, notes that when you look at research covering people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off, very very few of them are on a low-carb diet. If this is indeed the case (as opposed to faulty or misquoted research), it could be that they were more likely to be on a low-carb diet when they were at a higher weight, but found it didn't suit them by the time they were maintaining, and thus didn't show up as low-carbers in the research. My copy is with a friend at the moment, but I think it was generally quoting the National Weight Loss Registry in America. Any maintainers want to comment on this?
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Old 11-24-2011, 12:29 PM   #14
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I'm post-meno, short and fat.
When I was nowhere near meno, still short and fat, a mixed diet with a goodly amount of carbs worked well for me, provided I restricted portion sizes.
Now I'm post-, low-carb definitely works better; so far. I'm doing Dukan, which is lean protein, green veg. until the weight is lost, with phases 3 and 4 gradually re-adding other carbs. So far, so good.
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Old 11-24-2011, 04:50 PM   #15
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I think that a diet is like a pair of jeans..All "real" blue jeans are made from the same jean material, however, each pair fits a little bit differently then the last. You know how you walk in the store and you try on a pair of bootcut jeans in one brand and they fit but then try another pair of bootcut jeans in another brand and they dont fit? Well its like dieting...each diet is like a pair of jeans. One pair will fit you, while another one will not. Its all the same : a diet. However, the way your body responds and fits to the diet is different and unique for each individual..

So while a bootcut(low carb) diet might fit someone..A flared hip hugger jean(high carb) might fit someone else better.

Thats all i can think of.
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