Having a good biochemistry background will help you make better decisions for your health and help others make good decisions as well. Most biochemistry classes will cover the popular metabolic pathways (glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, electron transport cycle, gluconeogenesis, pentose phosphate pathway, fatty acid pathways, glycogen pathways, etc.) but rarely go into its application to the body. The following will describe an application example that many people should consider when deciding a diet.
The popular no carbohydrate diet (Atkins diet) or low carbohydrate diet may seem and sound effective, however, most people don’t understand why they lose a bunch of weight really quick, taper off, experience workouts that aren’t as intense, and gain they may gain the weight back extremely quick.
Let’s start with the big idea. Muscles need energy to perform work. The preferred form is sugar (carbohydrates). Once you’ve depleted the body of its carbohydrates, it will begin to use a little more fat but also a lot of protein. So, you’re probably thinking what’s the problem then? The diet is focused around high proteins and fats.
Your muscle is only able to metabolize a limited number of amino acids (proteins). Meaning if you don’t consume what your muscles demand, it may begin stealing from other areas of the body including muscle tissue. This is one of the reasons why workouts may seem to become harder, and the body prefers to use carbohydrates.
So why do you lose the weight really fast? Looking at the structure of carbohydrates, you can see a lot of places for hydrogen bonding. This means that carbohydrates love water, and the large amount of weight loss is primarily due to water loss. This also applies to the fast weight gain. Once an individual begins to consume carbohydrates, the body will take up a lot of water with it causing a dramatic weight gain.
What about the fat metabolism? Fats can’t be converted like proteins but have a unique process of their own. The process does result in energy and ketone bodies. This is also the energy source your brain would use when there is no carbohydrate. Ketone bodies may cause ketoacidosis in severe/prolonged cases.
This is why I love biochemistry when you can apply it. It empowers you with the knowledge to make decisions on your own with hearing and believing the next trend diet.
Finally, this blog was not meant to discourage no carbohydrate (or low) diet. It was meant to provide an applicable example of biochemistry to everyday choices. In fact, a low carbohydrate diet may be successful if done correctly.