Friday, April 6, 2012
Side-Effects of a Low-Carb Diet
After reading Gary Taubes's Why We Get Fat, my wife and I switched over to a low-carb diet. For the past three months, I've consumed less than 30 grams of carbs a day. This means no sugar, minimal wheat products, and less fruit. It has also meant more steak, eggs, salads, bacon, salad dressing, and various Atkins treats.
In the past, when I was trying to drop some weight, I did the Atkins diet for a one or two months. Back then, I lost ten pounds, but found the diet to be excruciating difficult to follow. I've since become better educated about what I can eat, and this second attempt has been much easier - so much that I can't imagine going back to eating carbs in any substantial amount again.
After getting over the initial 'carb-craving hump' I noticed some unexpected side-effects beyond the weight-loss:
1) Energy levels are now less bumpy. Burning fat, instead of carbs, for my day-to-day energy levels has been a drastic change. The low-carb method feels smoother and less 'jagged' - without the sugar highs and lows of the past. I have pretty much the same energy level all day, and only get really tired when bedtime draws near.
2) Mental improvement. I feel less stressed than before without that frantic level of work and life stress. Sure, I'm still get anxious about stuff, but it doesn't have the same forcefulness of the past. This also gives me longer and better sleep.
3) Less plaque on the teeth. When brushing and flossing, my teeth are now considerably cleaner than before and my gums seem pinker too. Of course this is to be expected with a dramatic drop in sugar and carbs going through the mouth. For someone who has had his fair share of cavities, I'm sure this will reduce some dental issues.
4) Day-to-day aches and pain. Over seventeen years of computer programming has given me pain and numbness in my right elbow. In the past year, it's gotten so bad that I had to train myself to use my left hand for using the mouse. But now, the pain has been reduced so much that I barely notice it anymore. I also have less back pain. Based on what I've read, this is from a reduction of inflammation caused by the low-carb diet. It certainly makes me feel younger than my years.
It should be noted that I'm not primarily doing this diet to just lose weight, but to positively change my health. So far, I'm beyond pleased.