Five reasons you might not lose weight on a low-carb diet


  • There is no one-size-fits-all weight-loss solution 
  • As with several other diets, there may be food traps you need to look out for in the low-carb diet
  • Depriving yourself of certain food items or food groups can defeat the purpose 

1. It’s in your genes

You may have noticed how a friend has lost a substantial amount of weight following a particular diet, while you’ve hardly lost anything.  

When it comes to losing weight, there is truly no “one-size-fits-all” diet.

Your genes determine whether you are better suited to a low carb, low fat, or Mediterranean style of eating.

Genes are responsible for whether your body responds to physical activity, can tolerate gluten or lactose, whether you metabolise caffeine efficiently, or whether you are more inclined towards addictive eating. 

If you find that your weight is not shifting following a low carbohydrate plan – you may want to investigate DNA testing to fine-tune your diet according to your genetic profile.

2. Low carb, but high calorie

A key error often made when reducing the carbohydrate content of diets is neglecting the total energy (kilojoule) content of a low carb eating plan.

Take for example a meal of salmon (100g), potato (180g) and salad.

To reduce the carbohydrate content, the potato is excluded, thereby reducing the kilojoule content of the meal by approximately 600kJ.

The meal, however, is no longer providing the same level of satiety, and consequently, the salmon portion is doubled in size (200g).

This results in increasing the energy content by approximately 800kJ.

Therefore, although the carbohydrate was excluded, the protein portion was increased, thereby significantly increasing the total kilojoule value of the meal.

For weight-loss to occur, an overall energy (kilojoule) deficit needs to be created.

Although carbohydrates may be reduced, it is still important to consider the kilojoules contributed by the fat and protein to your daily energy intake.

3. Cut out the fibre and you may feel unsatisfied

A low carbohydrate diet usually translates to a low fibre intake as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Although indigestible, fibre is needed for its role in providing satiety and acting as a source of food for your gut bacteria or microbiota.

Fibre also promotes normal bowel movements and benefits blood glucose control and cholesterol levels.

Reducing your carbohydrate and fibre intake has a domino effect on all aspects of your health.

And with regards to weight-loss, the lack of satiety experienced from removing the bulk of this undigestible food component may leave you consuming larger portions of protein and fat.

As mentioned above, this will negate any calorie deficit you hoped to create.

4. The low-carb processed food trap

We live in an age of convenient, cheap and tasty processed food. 

And if you’re following a high-fat diet, why not have a big slice of Banting cake?

Gluten-free? Go ahead and enjoy a gluten-free muffin.

Low carb? Perhaps you would like some low-carb lasagna for dinner?

Remember, just because a food has been labelled as part of your diet, it doesn’t mean it is a healthy or a low-energy (kilojoule) option.

Take for example low carbohydrate muesli – it contains 2 200kJ per 100g.  

Compare this to a regular breakfast muesli (including carbohydrates). For the same 100g you are consuming only 1800kJ.

As with any diet, try to limit your intake of processed convenient food options and opt for “real” whole foods to make up most of what you eat.

5. Are you a week-day dieter

Do you start Mondays on a clean slate (or plate)?

Are you back on track with your low-carb portions after overdoing it with loads of forbidden carbs from Friday lunch to Sunday dinner?

Eliminating or severely restricting an entire food group is difficult to implement and sustain, leaving you feeling frustrated and deprived.

This can result in a vicious cycle of cutting carbs during the week, while making up for it over the weekend.

Choosing a style of eating that can accommodate your preferences and social schedule will differentiate between just another diet that you do not adhere to, or a style of eating that is sustainable whether you are at home, enjoying meals with family and friends, or on holiday.

READ | Here is why all carbs are not created equal

READ | 5 ways to tackle your carb cravings

READ | What’s the right balance of fats and carbs?

Image credit: Jill Wellington, Pexels



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