What is the Problem with Low-Carb Diets?

A herd of sheep all following each other
What's the real problems with low-carb diets?
Genetics, adaption, and herd mentality! 

Self-empowerment is a popular buzz word these days, but what does it actually mean to empower yourself?

Most people chasing power want to control their environment, body, and others. But power is actually the strength to go against the flow and do what's necessary to get the weight-loss results you want.

Power is the courage to be different.

To change how you think.

When you first entered the low-carb path, you were excited, highly motivated, and had a strong desire to learn. Typically, you bought Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution or The Protein Power Life Plan and began experimenting with those different-from-the-norm ideas.

You threw out all of the highly refined carbs and sugars you'd been eating, and focused on:
  • meats and eggs
  • vegetables and salads
  • dairy products
  • and good fats
In general, you had an excellent introductory period.

You probably dropped several pounds of glycogen and water, and then settled into fat burning by the end of the first week.

With motivation strong, you charged full-speed ahead into your new low-carb lifestyle, believing it would bring you everything you were seeking after.

If you had about 50 or 60 pounds to lose, or less, and you were highly motivated to stick with the restrictions until you reached goal weight that first time around, faith is enough to carry you through the bumps and potholes, leaving you with a pretty easy-to-maintain lifestyle.

For many dieters, low-carb diets are easy, especially if you have the genetics to burn fats efficiently for fuel.

So, if staying true to your low-carb plan is all it takes to get you what you want, then what's the problem with low-carb diets?

Shadow Man Asking: "What's Your Problem?"
What is the real problem with low-carb diets?
Why don't they work for everyone?

If you have more than 50 or 60 pounds to lose, there is a good chance that you're going to run into a long-term stall part of the way to goal weight.

This dreaded plateau will test your motivation and determination to succeed with Keto, especially if you lack the understanding about what's going on.

If it's not your very first experience with low carb, if you've attempted several different ketogenic plans once or twice before, the dreaded stall can occur sooner than 50 pounds. This is because your body already has the experience it needs to bring you back into energy balance quicker.

Maybe, you've been luckier than I was and have been able to hang onto your weight loss.

Maybe you've gained back part or all of what you lost - and now you have no clue what to do. You're confused because you never saw that upswing in energy that everyone talks about, or you just didn't feel good eating the low-carb way.

You're sure you must be doing something wrong.

Does this sound like you?

Have you stalled part way to goal weight? Are you frustrated because you can't control what your body is doing? Does low carb make you feel worse than you felt before?

If so, then this post will help clear up some of the misconceptions about low-carb diets you might have, as well as help you find the strength and courage to change how you think and win the weight-loss game.

Pinterest Image: Bubbles with Question Marks

What is Low-Carb Herd Mentality?

Let's start with low-carb herd mentality because it's a pretty dangerous game to play.

For those who found Keto was an easy path and either reached goal or are content with their progress, the shout out to those who are not losing weight or those who don't feel well at very low-carb levels is to stop looking for excuses to quit and keep following the plan.

"You need to stop tweaking," I've been told. "You need to be patient and stop looking for reasons why the Atkins Diet isn't working for you. There is nothing wrong! Just eat more fat!"

Some of these people will ask you for a menu, so they can pick it apart and tell you what you're doing wrong. Others will accuse you of lying about what you're eating or even how much.

They will expect you to follow their advice, and if you don't, then it's your fault that you're still fat.

The general consensus on low-carb forums is almost always that you need to just blindly follow the herd. You need to do what they are doing. At the present time, that's lower your protein, eat more fat and calories, ignore the low-carb nay-sayers, and just decide to do this.

If low carb doesn’t work for you, regardless of the reason, the low-carb community believes you should be satisfied with eating a low-carb, high-fat diet for the rest of your life. 

Low-carb herd mentality is deadly to your weight-loss success because everyone doesn't have the genetics to burn fat efficiently.

Everyone should not be doing low carb.

Molding yourself to fit the ideals of the low-carb community will only block your personal development and growth.

Low-carb herd mentality is a fantasy. It's a fabrication built on hypothesis and theory. None of it is real. None of it is factual, and that includes why you can lose weight on low carb, as well as why you can't.

"Make a commitment!" they scream. "Low carb isn't just about weight loss. It's about gaining better health!"

Salmon Migration - They are just all together, treading water
Herd mentality is a very dangerous game to play.
It robs you of your personal power to recreate yourself.

Understanding the Problem with Low-Carb Diets

The way out of low-carb herd mentality is self-empowerment, but empowerment takes strength.

And courage.

You need the strength to swim against the low-carb current, and you need the courage to stand up and be different. 

Different in the way you perceive the world and different in the way that you think.

Power doesn't come from telling others what they should or shouldn't do. It is a direct result of understanding, and in this case, understanding the problem with low-carb diets will enable you to take the steps necessary for your ultimate success.

Seeking to understand your problem isn't a problem. Understanding is what allows you to gain perspective and the ability to see what's really going on.

On the other hand, understanding isn't knowledge.

Knowing that a low-carb diet works isn't enough. To succeed, you also have to understand why. Otherwise, when the diet stops working, you'll feel lost and confused. And maybe even angry enough to go back to your old food habits.

Low-carb theory and ideals won't be enough motivation to keep you doing something that doesn't bring the desired results.

Returning to what you were isn't useful.

Salmon Swimming Against the Current
Following low-carb ideals and theories won't get
you what you want. You have to think differently.

What is useful is knowing what you can realistically do (or not do) to counteract the physical adaptation to the energy imbalance that is working against you.

Adaption is the missing component that the low-carb community consistently ignores. It's the elephant in the room they don't like to talk about.

And I'm not talking about fat adaption.

I'm talking about the steps the body takes to bring your energy output back into alignment with what you're eating.

The low-carb community loves to hold up the ideal that says a calorie isn't a calorie or that the calories-in versus calories-out model is flawed, without giving you any useful information.

The calories-in versus calories-out model isn't theory. It's scientific fact. It's physics.

The energy coming in by way of diet must be used or the body has to store it somewhere. Offer less energy by way of diet than the body needs, and the body will have to either draw upon its stored energy reserves or find a way to use less energy.

Adaption is when the body seeks to find ways to use less energy instead of always dipping into its energy reserves.

You can't calculate those adaptions on paper, because they differ from individual to individual, so the low-carb community has decided that calories don't count at all.

This frame of reference is grossly inaccurate.

Calories matter. Dr. Atkins said that, his nurse says that, and even the doctors who personally worked with Dr. Atkins continue to say that today. Not believing in the calories-in versus calories-out model is the quickest way to fail on a low-carb diet.

Adaption is why there is so much variance from person to person as to the number of calories it takes to sustain or lose body fat. But this is true for all diets. Not just low carb ones.

You Might Need to Eat More Carbs, Not Less

Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and Spinach
Some people need to eat more carbs to feel good.
They don't have the genetics to burn dietary fats efficiently,
or they are insulin sensitive instead of insulin resistant.

Another dark spot within the low-carb community is a tremendous fear of carbohydrates. This fear usually comes from a lack of understanding.

Low carbers don't understand how and why a low-carb diet works.

Ketosis sets the body up to predominantly burn fatty acids for fuel, by default, but ketosis isn’t magic. Ketones built up in the bloodstream or dumped into the urine do not miraculously cause your body fat to go away.

Ketosis is an hormonal state that makes it easier for your body to access and burn fats for fuel, but you also have to have the genetics to up-regulate the enzymes it takes to burn fat. If you don't, you won't feel well on a low-carb diet until you seriously cut back on dietary fat.

The bottom line?
  • Calories count. 
  • The amount of fat you eat counts.
  • Your activity level counts. 
And while some individuals can get away with not paying attention to the amount of macronutrients they eat and still lose body fat, most people can’t.

The beauty of ketosis is appetite control.

Portion size automatically reduces when you enter the state of ketosis.

However, as you get smaller, your metabolism changes. What you could eat when you weighed 256 pounds will not be what you can eat (or need to eat) when you only weigh 150.

Odd as it sounds, there are many individuals who must increase the level of carbohydrates they eat and lower their dietary fats if they want to keep on losing.

For those individuals, eating 20 grams of carbohydrate and 65% of their calories in dietary fats will only take them so far. When the body succeeds in bringing your energy use back into balance with what you're eating, your weight loss is going to stall.

Ketosis has nothing to do with reaching equilibrium. 

Another problem with low-carb diets is that they are stressful on the body. They cause your cortisol and other stress hormones to rise.

If you stay on a diet that is extremely low in carbohydrates for too long, the elevated cortisol causes your thyroid to slow down. This slowing can interfere with the conversion of T4 thyroid hormone to T3, which will make you tired, irritable, and anxious.

Metabolism slows down. Leptin levels plunge. And before you know it, you’re eating at maintenance even though you're still short of your weight-loss goal.

Raising your carbs significantly can cause your Leptin level to rise, your metabolism to pick up, and if you're struggling to burn fat, carbs will give you the energy you're lacking.

What's important is that you don't just "add" carbohydrates to your current diet. You do have to subtract some of your fat calories or you'll be eating too many calories. Fat loss always requires you to eat at a caloric deficit. 

What Does Self Empowerment Do for You?

It takes self-empowerment to swim against the flow of society, to investigate alternatives to weight loss that go in a different direction than everyone else is swimming. Sometimes, this means doing:
  • refeeds
  • lower calories
  • less or more fats
  • and even higher carbs
When your choices are between tweaking or giving up – what’s it going to be?

A low-carb diet works well for a lot of people. I'm not saying that it doesn't.

What I am saying is that it doesn’t work or continue to work for everyone. Sometimes, it just stops working for no apparent reason, and when it does, you can find yourself traveling a different route -- a route that most low-carb dieters would not approve of.


Because they have erroneous ideas about dietary fat, calories, and how many carbohydrates it takes to stay in ketosis.

No one can make the choice for you, as there isn’t a single answer.

Folks will try.

Oh, how they’ll try.

It makes the low-carb mindset uncomfortable when someone else is doing something different than they believe they should, something different then what works for them.

But when that happens, you just gotta smile and do what you need to do anyway.

No matter how hard they try to convince you that eating low carb for life is the healthier choice for you, it might not be.

Do You Have the Courage to Do Something Different?

If you are only 5 or 10 pounds from goal weight, then yes, maybe you do need to reconsider your goal and just accept that your body wants to be a little heavier than you’d like to be.

But if you still have 40 or 50 pounds to lose, or even more, then empowerment might require you to do something different.

When you:
  • increase your carbs
  • lower your calories or dietary fat
  • experiment with bumping up your leptin levels through weekly refeeds
You are gaining the personal experience and self-knowledge you need to take personal responsibility and achieve your desired weight.

You don't have to be afraid of leaving the state of ketosis. Ketosis is simply a back-up system to fuel the brain when carbohydrates are in short supply, such as during a famine or starvation.

For most individuals, ketosis occurs at anything less than 100 grams of carbohydrate a day. Plus, you can be in ketosis and not lose weight. Ketosis doesn't guarantee you'll be able to burn your body fat.

So take the time to think about where you’ve been, where you’re at right now, and where you want to be a year from now.

Or two years. 

Or even three. 

Those years are going to pass, regardless of what you choose to do, so there's really no rush. 

Think about casting aside the low-carb herd mentality and empower yourself to move beyond the problem with low-carb diets to something that is more fulfilling and powerful.

Choose something that will actually help you reach and achieve your goals. Don't settle for less than the best!