DO LOW-CARB DIETS CAUSE MUSCLE LOSS?
So many people still ask me that question. For those scratching their heads in disbelief, as FLEX magazine’s Chief Medical Muscle Monger, I’ve been saying for years that low-carbohydrate diets most certainly do not dull your anabolic response to weight training. Now we’ve got the science to prove it.
First of, carbohydrates are sugars. They have traditionally been viewed as the fuel for most body functions. Over the years this misperception has been thoroughly reinforced by everyone, from sport drink marketers who say you have to constantly suck down their sugar swill just to get your bony ass of the bench; to misguided school-lunch dietitians who, for years, made carbs a staple of crappy school lunches and thus to the chubby-child epidemic; to even the federal government, whose old Food Guide Pyramid with its moronic message of recommending 6–11 servings of carbohydrates daily created generations of type-2 diabetics.
In truth, your body can make all the carbohydrates it needs in the form of glucose from the fat and protein you take in. Your body requires no orally ingested carbohydrates for this function. This is a medical fact that countless professional and non-professionals continually ignore. Perhaps this misperceived “need” for orally ingested carbohydrates comes from the fact that at the cellular level the body certainly does require glucose for energy (the simplest form of the carbohydrate sugar molecule). But that doesn’t mean you have to EAT IT!
Glucose marks the beginning of the energy utilizing pathway known as glycolysis, which yields a molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is the true currency of energy in the human body. Every cell in your body runs on a steady supply of it to function. Without ATP, nothing happens. This is especially true for muscular contraction. When you are working out hard and your muscles are pumped, ATP is consumed. Since this energy cycle begins with a molecule of glucose, it comes as no surprise that carbohydrates have mistakenly become the star of the show in terms of the traditional scientific and textbook definitions of our dietary source of energy. The truth is that dietary fat is a far more efficient feeder of this pathway of energy production, but not if your body is too used to carbohydrate ingestion. The longer you have ignored and bypassed this path, the more atrophied and inefficient it becomes. The body can become so used to an unnatural steady sugar intake that our physiology can “forget” about the dusty path of using dietary fat for energy. Still need more convincing? Well, just look at the state of our health as a society ravaged by the toxic effect of a sustained elevation of insulin in response to the steady stream of carbohydrates being fed to us. The result is epidemic obesity and diabetes (obesity being the leading risk factor for type-2 diabetes).
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