low carbohydrate diets for weight loss

Low carbohydrate diets for weight loss:

Sugar and its role in obesity has been highlighted in the press recently. Authors are now highlighting the quantity of sugar added to soft drinks and confectionary is making us overweight more so than fat.

The aim of this blog is to briefly look at the rationale behind this arguememt and whether a low cabohydrate diet can resulting successful weight loss. The second part of the blog will explore if a low carbohydrate diet can enhance athletic performance.

The resources for this blog are the authors Volek and Phinney, Dr John Biffa , Gary Taubes and Professor Tim Noakes all of whom are proponents of a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. However I will be critiquing these authors findings when it comes to athletic performance.

First some basics. When we eat carbohydrates insulin is released from the pancreas and transports the carbohydrate to the liver or muscles. We only have a limited storage capacity of carbohydrates and excess are converted to lipids (fat) by the liver. We have virtually unlimited storage capacity for fat. When we eat lots of sugary food two important things happen

We become resistant  to insulin which means we need more of it to perform the same function.

Researchers have also shown we stimulate the reward centres in our brain which makes us strive for more (Small 2009) (think about how easy it is to overeat on chocolate, cake, even bread compared to say a bowl of plain full fat natural yoghurt).

The fact we become insulin resistant means our blood sugar levels rise and we become prone to developing diabetes.

The fact our reward centres are stimulated means we seek more and therefore are prone to overeat and become overweight.

In contrast eating foods with high protein and even fat produce satiety and we are far less likely to overeat. This is the arguememt that it is not necessary to count calories because you will feel full and satisfied before your overeat.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of individuals who have lost substantial weight following a low carbohydrate high fat diet. However there is also plenty of longitudinal studies showing no significant difference in following a isocaloric diet irrespective of its make up. This means in my opinion it is down to individual preference if you find it easy to avoid overeating when eating carbohydrate then why change. However if you struggle and also seem to want more when you consume carbohydrate try changing to a higher protein and fat diet and cut down carbohydrates including grains and fruit.

Now let’s look at whether low carbohydrate, high fat diets can improve athletic performance. The authors who advocate low carbohydrate diets state we become better at fat oxidation and therefore because we have unlimited stores of it athletic performance is improved. There are also studies supporting this. However all of these studies were on endurance performance at moderate intensity where fat is the predominant energy source. There is a lock of research to support this when the sport requires short bouts of very intense exercise where because of the time taken to mobilise fatty acids, carbohydrates are the main energy source. This fact is highlighted by authors  who maintain a higher level of carbohydrate intake is required intense type of sports (Jeukendrup 2008).

To summarise the above following a low carbohydrate high fat diet might be easier to follow, will reduce or reverse insulin resistance, and therefore result in successful weight loss and health benefits. However individual variations mean you should establish what suits you, if you don’t overeat carbohydrate why change.

If you compete in endurance sports then a high fat diet might improve performance but you should experiment with this, however in sports with short bouts of high intensity I would advise you consume adequate carbohydrate to optimise performance.

Thank you for reading this and don’t forget keep up to date with our latest news at Functionalphysio.net.



Buffa J 2012 Escape the Diet Trap. Harper Collins, London.

Jeukendrup A 2008 Carbohydrate Feeding During Exercise. European Journal of Sport Science 8(2):  77-86.

Small D 2009 Individual Differences in the Neurophysiology of Reward and the Obesity Epidemic. International Journal of Obesity 33 (supp2): s44-s48.

Volek JS, Phinney SD 2011 The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. Beyond Obesity LLC.


Preventing falls

Hello everyone and welcome to the first blog from Functional Physio. I hope to write these on a regular basis relating them to both physiotherapy and fitness. These blogs will also be published on our website http://www.functionalphysio.net and you can view the exercises on our You Tube channel Adam Lovegrove.

I thought I would begin this blog with my thoughts on preventing falls.

As we get older the risk of falling increases.

Statisitically 33% of the population aged over 65 will suffer one or more falls during a twelve month period. This figure rises to nearly 40% of adults aged over 80. There are many detrimental consequences associated with people falling, including fractures and soft tissue injuries, hospital and nursing home admission (with subsequent medical costs) muscle wasting, and reduced confidence.

The risk of falling includes both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors include lack of strength, decreased range of movement (especially ankle dorsiflexion) poor balance, vision and vestibular (inner ear) problems. Extrinsic risk factors of falling are associated predominantly with the environment eg uneven pavement, medication and clothing, especially relating to footwear.

In my opinion the main thing to focus on to reduce the risk of falling is to increase the strength of your leg muscles. Weakness of these is linked to falls. Some exercises to include are to stand up from a chair. Step up onto a step, lunges, stiff leg deadlift, leg extension, hamstring curls and heel raises. (See you tube for demonstrations). You should also ensure your trunk muscles are strong performing upper body exercises such as rows and chest press in standing will ensure these muscles are strong.

The next thing to focus on is to ensure you have adequate ankle dorsiflexion. To assess this stand with your toes 3cm from a wall. Keep your back vertical, bend your knees, you should be able to touch the wall with your knees and keep heels straight and on the floor. If you can’t do this your calf muscles might be tight and you need to stretch them. You can do this by placing you foot flat on a chair with your knee bent and lean forward so your knee moves over the toes. Hold this for 30 secs

The next thing to address is balance, I am not a great believer in static balance because we don’t tend to fall when standing still. One exercise to do is take giant steps. You do this by lifting your knee to hip level and take a big step forward. Walk like this for 20 paces. You can also stand on one leg and touch the toes of the other leg in front and across of the standing leg and then behind and across the standing leg (see you tube for a demonstration of this and other exercises).

In addition, you have to ensure you get your eyes checked regularly, your footwear is in good condition and check any medication you are taking to see if it might effect balance.

Finally, I have also posted a technique to get up from the floor if you do fall. You can do this as a stand alone exercise as well.

I hope you found this blog has some useful tips. You can give me any feedback at adandjacqui@aol.com

Thanks for reading Adam