As a fitness editor, I get asked an exorbitant amount of health questions every week. The one that pops up more than any other is not surprising: what do you do when you want to lose weight? And when I respond with my honest answer, everyone's response is equally unsurprising.
I don't know whether they're expecting me to offer a magic pill or weird statistic they haven't heard, but when I say, "I cut back on carbs," faces drop and the subject almost immediately changes. You would be hard-pressed to find a woman who enjoys bread products as much as I do, but when I'm zapped of energy or want to feel my very best before a special event or vacation, I eat them very sparingly.
I had always considered myself to be a relatively clean eater, but it wasn't until I went Paleo for the first time that I realized just how often I was eating grains, bread, and pasta, and how different I felt when I stopped eating these foods. Once I cut these foods out of my diet for the sake of my cavewoman project, my experience of feeling bloated after every meal went away and my energy soared. I felt like I had been lifted out of a haze where everything looked a little clearer and sharper. And there was another welcome change I wasn't anticipating: I took off a significant amount of weight faster than I ever had before. Eliminating high-carb foods allows the body to get rid of glycogen (excess carb-stores held in the muscles) and with it, associated water weight. Whenever I cut back on carbs in my diet, the results are instant and dramatic.
Keep in mind that I would never commit to cutting out bread or grains forever. In terms of long-term and sustainable weight loss, cutting out a single food group forever is never a good idea. While cutting out carbs is what works for me when I want to take off weight quickly, it's important to point out that once I reintroduce high-carb foods, the water weight is quick to return. The only way weight loss lasts is when you're willing to make a real lifestyle change that includes an all-around balanced diet. That being said, cutting carbs does work when I want to jump-start my diet after an indulgent period or when I'm looking to shape up for a special event. All I have to do is keep up with my regular workout schedule and cut back on high-carb foods, and a week to 10 days later, my muscles look more defined, my clothes slide on easier, and my energy levels go through the roof. It has nothing to do with hitting a specific weight or trying to look "skinny," but it has everything to do with feeling a little more confident in that special dress, that tiny bikini, or . . . nothing at all.