A low-carb diet is one of the heathiest ways to eat, but unfortunately, it takes more than diet and exercise to reach your weight-loss goals. For most people, successful weight loss also requires you to make a mental adjustment. For that reason, many people wonder, "Will a low-carb diet work for me?" The answer to that depends on your motivation, personality type, and determination to succeed.
What's at the Heart of a Low-Carb Diet?
Before I introduce you to the three personality types that are most likely to achieve success on a low-carb diet, let's briefly discuss what sits at the heart of carbohydrate restriction. Better health through correcting insulin and blood glucose imbalances, improving cholesterol markers, an adequate protein intake, lower hunger levels, and gaining better control over your cravings all make a carb-reduced diet extremely attractive to dieters. But don't forget that the basis for low carbing originally came from "observation" of patients, not strict science.
Today, research has shown that low carb isn't better at helping you shed the pounds than a low calorie diet is, but that doesn't mean that low carb doesn't work or that it won't be better for YOU. It all depends on how willing you are to stick to the program, how your body responds to carbohydrate restriction, and if you can make the mental shift required.
Low-Carb Diet Reality -- Few Succeed
If you sit back and watch all of the participants at the various low-carb forums, you'll eventually come to realize that very few dieters every accomplish their weight loss goals. Despite the low-carb benefits, most people just don't achieve success. There are hundreds of people that spend a lot of their free time socializing, supporting each other, and seeking help for their dieting issues on these boards, but hardly anyone announcing that they have reached their weight loss goal.
However, a few do go all of the way to goal, so those are the ones I zeroed in on to see just what made them different from the rest. Why did they achieve success on a low-carb diet, while so many others did not?
The 3 Personalities that a Low-Carb Diet Works For
Of those who succeed on a low-carb diet, there seems to be three types of people:
- Those who achieve their goals with a little bit of a struggle. These people stick around the forums in order to help others, and give advice when needed. Some of these people are what are known as "Turtles." The weight comes off very slowly. Or they cheat now and then, and have to climb back into the wagon. Others believe so strongly in the low-carb theory that they don't care if they are losing weight or not. They just keep going. Those who find a low-carb diet has stopped working for them, but they decide to keep eating low carb for their health, fall into this group.
- Those who achieved their goals by taking a few left-turns along the way, maybe with a tweak of two of their own that failed. Once they come to their senses, they end up revamping their program, but they do it more realistically this time. Part of their newly designed plan conforms exactly with some of the author's views of how they should achieve success. And part of it doesn't. These plans are usually created to fit the person's lifestyle, tastes, health problems, and also include foods the dieter feels they cannot give up. They simply find a way to make those foods work for them.
- Those who easily achieve their goals, then disappear from the boards to live their lives never to be heard from again. We don't know how true they were to the diet, if they tweaked it to fit their own personality and health problems, or not. We simply never hear from them unless they gain back a part or all of their weight, or more, and want to start all over. There are actually a large number of people who fall into this "Welcome Back" group. For those who do decide to stick around and help others "see the light," they don't help in the same way that group 2 does. Since the weight simply fell off for them, it's more of a knock you over the head kind of thing. Do it by the book, they scream. Follow the author's advice exactly, or you are not doing "South Beach," "Atkins," or "Protein Power."
While it's fantastic that this third group has reached their goal, unfortunately, they don't have a lot of power to help others since weight loss came easy for them. Generally, this is the very first time they have ever tried to diet, so their body hasn't caught on to what they are doing yet.
Will A Low Carb Diet Work for Me or Not?
A lot depends on whether you love the foods allowed on your plan, how much weight you have to lose, and if you're okay with giving up bread, rice, potatoes, and sugary desserts. It also depends on how many diets you've gone on before. If you're coming to the table as a yo-yo dieter, your body will have always decided that a diet is a famine and will fight you every step of the way.
It doesn't matter how accurate the low-carb science is, the body is designed to sustain life and that is exactly what it will do.
If the body determines that your diet is an emergency situation, it will lower your insulin level, but also secrete Cortisol and other stress hormones. That will cause the body to go into gluconeogenesis overdrive every time you lower your calories and/or carbohydrate level. If that's where you're at, that's where Group 2 comes into play. You simply tweak your diet to fit your own personal situation.
But you won't know if you'll have to do that until after you give a traditional low-carb diet a fair chance to work for you. Low-carb diets are extremely healthy because they focus on adequate amounts of protein, lots of healthy vegetables, nuts, low-sugar fruits, healthy fats, and a small amount of low-carb condiments and flavorings. And when Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution is followed correctly, it also teaches you just how many carbohydrates are the perfect amount for you.
Where most people get into problems is either keeping their carbohydrate levels too low for an extended length of time, or they will go on-and-off of a low-carb diet, expecting it to work exactly the same every time they do that. It won't. The body will remember, and it will start a full-body war against you.
A low-carb diet will work for you, but you have to give your body a little bit of respect and sometimes coax it into complying by making it feel secure and safe. That's a much longer ballgame, but the alternative is to never reach your weight loss goals.