Low Carb Diets Deprive Heart of Energy
I recall very vividly a particular sunny Saturday afternoon enjoying a healthy lunch with my brother, Bill at a sidewalk cafe on Sunset Blvd a number of years back. It was during the peak of the Atkins diet craze and we were discussing it’s obvious and inevitable demise – it was plain as day to us both, how the pendulum would swing back to balance.
I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of the low-carb approach to dieting. I’ve made my well supported views known in many circles, although not in great detail here. And now is not the time for a full-blown rant on the subject – one that does tend to get me on my soapbox.
I will say that one of my issues with Atkins has been it’s negative impact on natural flow of energy in the body and mind. Simply stated, stop energy in and energy-out stops too. I believe that an Atkins diet tends to encourage and promote lower physical activity which is really the problem in the first place.
Well, now here comes more proof that low-carb can have an even more serious impact on your energy – in this case the energy of your heart muscle. And needless to say, this is one muscle even the most avid couch potato wants to keep strong and highly energized.
While many nutritionists have attacked the Atkin’s weight loss regime for its high fat content, putting dieters at risk of clogged arteries and heart attack in the long-term, the small study carried out at the University of Oxford is one of the first to demonstrate a direct effect on the heart after following the diet for a short period.
The results found that after restricting carbohydrate intake and instead consuming much more fat and protein, the energy stores in the hearts of 19 participants were reduced by an average of 16 per cent.
"The heart requires energy for contractions," explained another of the authors, Dr Damien Tyler
He added: "You do see similar patterns in a more severe form in patients with heart failure, and type 2 diabetics also suffer from lower energy stores.”
In my view this is nothing to be panicked about but simply more support for a rational approach to a balanced diet – meals that comprise a balance of quality proteins and carbohydrates along with a source of essential, healthy fats. Extreme approaches like removing carbs help people gain awareness and can actually people gain some control over their carb addictions but they are not lasting, lifestyle solutions.
I know it makes a good story to point the finger at carbs, proteins or fats in a “who dunnit” style but there no real mystery in people continuously eating too calories and getting too little physical activity. Time to stop avoiding the obvious and still smoking gun.