Rapid Weight Loss on No Carb Diets

Hoo-boy!  Today I overheard a completely incorrect explanation for the cause of rapid weight loss on No-Carb and Low-Carb diets.  Where the heck did this “professional” get their information?  Facts are facts.  Science is science. Some things are simply basic.  And their explanation was simply absurd!

A small group of us went out and heard a great comedian the other night.  I’m doing everything in my power to resist my first, second and even third thoughts.  I’ll maintain composure.  Be a professional and simply deal with the issue rather than abusing and humiliating this nationally certified professional.

Here is the factual reason why you will experience radical and UNHEALTHY weight loss on No-Carb diets.

First, let’s look at the three macronutrients – Fat, Carbohydrate and Protein

I want you to observe the differences and similarities about these 3 molecular models.  To the far left is a model of a Triglyceride.  There are different types of Fats and most are a variation of  this Triester model.  It consists of  a Glycerol (the vertical group) and 3 Fatty Acids (the 3 horizontal groups.)  This is a saturated Fat because it is “saturated” with as many Hydrogen atoms as possible.  Note: This Fat molecule possesses 60 Hydrogens, 33 Carbons and only 3 Oxygen Molecules. (I know it’s small and hard to see.  Trust me – they’re all there!)  In other words, it’s BIG and possesses a small ratio of Oxygen atoms.  This is important to note for a separate discussion about Fat Metabolism.

In the middle diagram, observe the Carbohydrate Molecule.  This is Glucose.  It possesses 6 Carbons, 12 Hydrogens and 6 Oxygens.  It is smaller compared to fat and possesses a much higher ratio of Oxygen molecules.

Lastly, to the far right, we have a Protein or Amino Acid Molecule.  The main thing to notice about Protein is the presence of Nitrogen.  It possesses 2 Carbons, 4 Hydrogen, 2 Oxygen and 1 Nitrogen atom.  The R represents an Organic substituent. The ratio of Carbons, Hydrogens and Oxygen Molecules in a Protein is identical to a Carbohydrate.  Therefore, the only real difference between a Carbohydrate and a Protein is the presence of Nitrogen.  This is a very important detail.  Please pay close attention!

Now that we have laid out the structure of each macronutrient,  let’s understand their primary function.  Fat and Carbohydrate are your primary fuels for basic metabolism.  A Fat molecule takes longer to break down due to it’s size and requires an external source of 47 Oxygen molecules.  Oxygen will bond with all the Carbon and Hydrogen atoms to produce 33 CO2 molecules (Carbon Dioxide) and 30 H2O molecules (Water).  Compared to Fat, a Carbohydrate molecule breaks down quicker and requires less external Oxygen for metabolism.  Due to the ratio of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms in a Carbohydrate, only 6 additional Oxygen molecules are required to yield 6 CO2 and 6 H2O.

Protein is not a primary fuel.  It is used primarily for muscle tissue growth and repair.  Can Protein be used as a fuel?  ABSOLUTELY and this is exactly what happens when you choose to go on a No-Carb diet.  The sub-conscious mind (automatic control) is smarter and more powerful than your conscious mind (voluntary control).  When you choose to deny Carbohydrates to your body, your internal mechanisms will over-ride your decision.  If your diet consists entirely of Protein (example: The Atkins Diet), your body is still looking for the basic building blocks of Carbohydrates (C,H,O) and will identify those same basic building blocks (C,H,O) in Protein.  However, to access the C,H,O in a Protein molecule, your body must first deaminate (remove Nitrogen) from the molecule.  Deamination takes place in your liver where the Protein is broken down.  The C, H, and O atoms are all put to use.  But now you have Nitrogen present in your system.  Nitrogen is toxic!  It’s fertilizer but it won’t make you fertile.  It will kill you!  You literally have Ammonia (Urea) in your body and it must be removed.  This is where the water loss takes place.  Your body will use the water in your body to dilute and flush the excess ammonia out of your system.  And THAT is why you lose weight very rapidly on a No-Carb diet.

And NO – it is not healthy to create toxicity in your body for the purpose of weight loss so DON’T DO IT!!!

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One thought on “Rapid Weight Loss on No Carb Diets

  1. Gray Dog
    February 4, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Hi David!

    Thanks for the great post. You’ve done a great job of breaking this down into “English for the common man”.

    One question, what is the correct ratio of carbs/fats/proteins to maximize weight loss? As the years accumulate, it seems that my metabolism has slowed to the point that I need 2 hours a day of heavy aerobics (road bike) just to maintain my weight. Actual weight loss seems to require partial starvation on top of that.

    Your thoughts are welcomed.

    Brad in Orlando

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