What is a low carb diet? Low carbohydrate diets are thought to promote weight loss through decreased appetite and increased fat burning.
Learn what it entails, what you can eat on a low carb diet, the benefits of this eating plan, what the downsides might be for some people, and whether they're right for you.
What is a low carb diet?
Low carb diet is the latest term for a ketogenic diet and what has also been referred to as a low-carbohydrate diet, a high-fat diet, or a low-glycemic index diet.
Low carb dieters follow what's known as a "ketogenic" (or "keto") lifestyle, which means eating lots of fat - typically 60 to 80 per cent of total calories - and few carbs.
They eat low blood sugar, high energy foods rich in fats such as bacon, eggs, cheese and avocados.
For weight loss, some people may find that their appetite is reduced by eating this way, and they can keep hunger at bay with the help of the fat that keeps them feeling full.
Some people also find that they can eat less food on a ketogenic diet, and what's more, what they do eat helps them to maintain a healthy weight, so it's easy for them not only to lose weight but to keep it off when they go back to their everyday eating habits.
Deciding to follow a low carb diet plan is not one that should be taken lightly. Some people can eat what they want and when they want, but for others, following a strict routine of what to eat and what not to eat can be very difficult.
When deciding what kind of low carb diet plan would work best for you, you need first to determine your goals and what kinds of changes you want to make.
Do you want to lose weight, or do you want a more natural diet plan that helps balance out hormones?
These are questions that everyone needs to answer for themselves when deciding what kind of low carb diet is best for them and what types of foods they will and will not eat.
Looking at what you want to accomplish is the first step in what kind of low carb diet plan you would like to follow, but it also helps you figure what level of commitment and how much time you are willing to put into this diet.
What are the benefits of being on a low carb diet?
There are many different benefits of being on a low carb diet. They are often what people are looking for in the first place when they embark on a diet and want to lose weight. The benefits include:
1. Low carb diets tend to be higher in what is known as "good fats", and this help to keep your cholesterol down, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Good sources of essential fats include nuts and seeds, olive oil, oily fish such as salmon, avocados, olives and cold-pressed vegetable oils.
2. Low carb diets are also more satiating (satisfying) than high carbohydrate diets, which means that you feel less hungry for longer.
You don't need to eat as often, which can help you maintain a healthy weight because it takes fewer calories each day to meet your body needs when on a diet.
There are many ways to satisfy what your body needs.
3. You may lose more weight on a low carb diet than on a higher carbohydrate one.
If you eat foods that are lower in carbohydrates, they can take longer for your body to absorb and digest them, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.
This means that the calories consumed are being "sat on" as fat and being stored rather than being instantly absorbed into your body.
4. Low carb diets tend to encourage you to eat more protein (animal or vegetable), which helps you feel full sooner and for longer and increase the metabolism slightly in what is known as a "thermogenic" effect.
This means that the body's calorie consumption is somewhat higher, and weight loss can be speeded up.
5. Low carb diets may help you to lose what are known as "stubborn" pounds, where you seem to hold on to fat around your stomach and thighs even though you eat less overall.
Some people's bodies seem to react better than others when it comes to losing this excess fat.
A low carb diet may help burn excess abdominal fat, which can be the hardest area for people to shift.
6. Low carb diets are associated with what is known as ketosis, which means that what you eat creates what is known as a "ketone body" in your bloodstream.
Some of these ketones escape from the blood and are excreted in your breath and urine.
This is what causes the distinctive "fruity" smell that may come from your mouth when you have been on a low carb diet for some time!
The body can use ketones as an alternative energy source, which means that they help to reduce what is known as insulin resistance, which is what causes you to store too much fat in the first place.
This can lead to further weight loss and makes it easier for your body to burn what energy (calories) it does receive from food. They don't seem to hurt cholesterol either, unlike some other diets.
7. Low carb diets may also help with what is known as insulin sensitivity, which makes your body more efficient at using what energy (in the form of calories) it receives from what you eat.
Insulin resistance causes what is known as blood sugar levels to spike and crash down to very low levels after meals that can lead to what is known as hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
This can make you feel faint, dizzy and tired and can also affect what you think of your ability to concentrate.
A low carb diet can increase what is known as "insulin sensitivity", which means that when blood sugar levels are high, what they do is go down, not up, eventually leading to lower overall levels that are more consistent throughout the day.
This means that your energy levels are more consistent, which can help with what is known as concentration and what is known as short term memory.
What are the downsides to a low carb diet for some people?
1. Low carb diets can be challenging for some people to maintain as what are known as "stubborn" pounds may put on what is known as a "starvation response" when what they eat is too low in carbohydrates.
This leaves some people feeling weak, irritable and grumpy. They may binge on high carbohydrate foods, which contradicts what they were trying to achieve in the first place.
2. Some people's bodies may also react negatively to ketosis, which means that what is known as a "ketone body" in the blood can be excreted from the blood and breath and urine.
This can cause what is known as "ketosis breath", which can be off-putting to other people and known as "ketosis urine", known as distinctive fruity-smelling urine.
3. Low carb diets can be hard to follow if you live in an area where it is hard to find low carbohydrate foods, as they may have been removed from the shop shelves by what is known as a "food police". They do not appear to hurt cholesterol either.
4. This leads us to how much weight you lose may be determined by your genetic makeup.
Some people seem to do better on low carbohydrate diets than others, which means that they experience a more significant weight loss over time and find it easier to maintain their desired bodies.
Others seem to put on more weight as the body reacts differently, such as increasing what is known as insulin levels in the blood, which leads to a creeping weight gain that is hard to shift.
5. Low carb diets can also be hard for some people to adapt to as they miss out on key vitamins and minerals from what is known as carbohydrate foods, which means that other sources of these nutrients must replace them.
You need to be aware of what makes up the low carbohydrate diet you choose to replace these nutrients in other food sources.
How to decide whether low carb diet is right for you
The low card diet is right for you if you want to lose weight quickly and efficiently. But, it may not be ideal for some people.
For example, if you're an endurance athlete, your performance may suffer from the diet. If you're breastfeeding or pregnant, the diet may make it harder for you to produce milk or carry your child to term.
If you have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, it's best to consult your doctor first before going on this diet. Don't start without a professional approval.
Examples of low carb diets are the Atkins Diet, Protein Power, and the Sugar Busters Diet. You may have even heard about one or more of them from friends, family members or co-workers.
They all vary in how many grams of carbs they recommend you eat each day and nutritional requirements for other nutrients such as fats, proteins and calories.
Portion control is required for a low card diet since you will likely be eating less food than you are accustomed to.
Since people tend to enjoy carbohydrates more than other foods such as fats and proteins, it's possible that you could feel deprived or unsatisfied with this diet.
Losing weight quickly on a low carb diet is also possible because you're likely to be less hungry, which means that you will have a lower caloric intake.
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To increase your chances of success on a low carb diet:
Do some research before you start and find one that fits within your way of life and maintains the nutritional guidelines recommended by health professionals such as the American Dietetic Association and the American Heart Association.
If you are among the millions of people who want to lose weight, a low carb diet may be right for you.
Before making any decisions about what type or how much of your diet should consist of carbs, seek advice and information from healthcare professionals such as registered dietitians to make an informed decision that meets your health and weight-loss goals.
You can use the following checklist to help you figure out if a low carb diet is right for you:
- Do I avoid sugars and refined carbs?
- Am I closer to achieving my weight loss goals than before?
- Am I seeing improvements in my medical symptoms or feeling better?
- Has my doctor, registered dietitian or health coach recommended this type of diet for me specifically?
- Do I eat at least one-third of the food on the plate at most meals and only about 6-10 oz. of meat, poultry, eggs or fish per meal, each with no more than 6g net carbs?
- Do I have little appetite, feel full quickly and sometimes skip meals?
- Do I need to eat foods with more fat and protein to feel full?
The low carb diet is a healthy eating plan that restricts the amount of carbohydrates you intake and instead focuses on eating more protein and fats. Some people believe it's helpful for weight loss, and others don't.
You can still enjoy everything you love-- especially since there are now many options available to you!
Check out this article if you're not sure the difference between a low carb diet and other eating plans, like vegetarian and vegan diets.
What is a low carb diet conclusion?
Low carb diets are a popular way to lose weight. They're thought to promote weight loss through decreased appetite and increased fat burning, but they may not work for everyone.
In this article, we've talked about what it entails, as well as the benefits and downsides of low carb diets depending on your goals.
We hope you find these tips helpful in deciding whether or not a low-carb diet is right for you! Drop your comments and questions below if you have any.