Diets of this nature (low carb diets) have been highly advertised and even lauded by many well-known people.
We’d like to sift through the hype, here, and give you the run down on low carb diet and weight loss, its effectiveness, methodology and all the cons that go with such diets.
What is a Low Carb Diet?
Low carb diets are defined as diets that seek to eliminate or radically reduce carbohydrate intake. These diets are heavy in fat and protein.
They remove the starchy foods from your diet so say goodbye to breads, pastas, potatoes, rice, cereal and many fruits and vegetables.
Why get rid of carbs? Simple, the carbs you don’t burn are eventually reduced to glucose (a sugar) which, ultimately becomes fat. Eliminate the carbohydrates and you will eliminate the excess fat build up (theoretically).
However, it’s important to note that carbohydrates are important organic nutrients. They are essential in DNA structure and store energy.
Does a Low Carb Diet Help You Lose Weight?
The simple answer here is yes and studies do support it. In the first week, you’ll notice a sort of roller-coaster on the scale as your body depletes, and regains, water.
Water is an important aspect of glycogen (which is the body’s way to store glucose for energy). So, when you cut the carbs (which reduce to glucose) you also decrease your body’s need for glycogen, thereby ridding yourself of water weight.
Studies show that low carb diets and reduced calorie diets have about the same effect. This is partially because, a low carb diet such as the Atkins diet also involves decreasing calories.
The main difference is the satiety and the desire to binge. Once you’ve gotten used to the decreased carb intake you’ll find yourself less desirous of pig-out moments (supposedly).
From a scientific standpoint, drastically cutting carbohydrates puts your body into a state known as ketosis.
Ketosis basically is a time in which your body begins to burn fats for energy rather than sugar (glucose/carbs).
This is great for those of us with excess poundage (who wouldn’t want to burn those rolls away)! However, as with all good things, we’ll have to look at the cons too, but that’s later.
[Also Read: Does a High Protein Diet Help You Lose Weight?]
What Can You Eat on a Low Carb Diet?
As we mentioned previously, a low carb diet is focused on high proteins. Therefore you’ll see a lot of poultry, fish, eggs and assorted other meats. There is an allotment for various non-starchy vegetables, but since most of them are starch filled don’t get your hopes up there.
A typical low carb diet consists of 60-130 grams of carbohydrates which equates to a calorie count of 240-520.
To understand the difference, the American designed dietary guidelines allow for 225-325 grams or 900-1300 calories in a 2000 calorie diet. That’s a pretty significant reduction.
Foods to Avoid on a Low Carb Diet
There are a number of no-no’s on a this diet. Certainly you will realize that sodas must be eliminated as they are slam full of carbohydrates.
Then of course there’s the goodbye’s to desserts since most of them are made with some kind of grain or other sugar inclusive ingredients.
Though this one might shock you, protein bars have to go too because they are usually carb hoarders. Granola is out the door as well because it includes added sugar and/or dried fruit within its delectable crunchiness. That adds in cereal because grains of all kinds are carb kings.
Of course, pasta and bread and rice pretty well go without saying. Another shocker might be the often touted flavored yogurt. While full of probiotics and other healthy ingredients, sugars are floating around too. If you’ve got to have your yogurt, go plain.
[Also Read: Top 10 Weight Loss Foods For 2015]
Are Low Carb Diets Healthy?
Like most other styles, low carb diets are healthy for healthy people. What do we mean by that?
We understand that spare tires and love handles aren’t healthy, but if that’s your only issue, then a low carb diet should work just fine for you (but you’re going to have to make it a lifestyle or discover some other way to sustain it because reintroducing carbs will pack on the pounds). Check with your doctor first!
On the other side of the spectrum, there are several health entities that do not recommend low carb diets.
Their main complaint is that these diets often restrict foods that are otherwise deemed healthy, specifically fruits and vegetables. In addition, there is the potential to deplete necessary amounts of fibers, vitamins and minerals.
They argue that research suggests these diets are useful for short periods of time (up to a year) and that there are no long-term studies to support continued adherence.
On the contrary, they add that plant based carbohydrates have tremendous health benefits that have been proven via long-term research.
Side Effects of a Low Carb Diet
We have finally attained the bad news section, the cons of participating in a low carb diet regime.
People with serious medical conditions to include: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and kidney disease, should probably refrain from a diet of this nature.
However, if you just have to try it out, make sure you discuss it with your doctor first!
Specific side effects that should be noted are hinged upon the food ingested during a diet of this type.
High fat proteins, like fatty meats and whole milk dairy products can raise your cholesterol. Too much protein can put added strain on your kidneys and it may cause you to urinate more calcium.
This calcium depletion could contribute to osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Finally, though many applaud the state of ketosis, there are some very distinct drawbacks. Ketosis induces the production of ketones and that can lead to halitosis (or bad breath) and nausea.
It can also dull your appetite (which might actually be a pro). Ketosis can be avoided by making sure you ingest at least 100 grams of carbs a day.
In case you’re needing a wrap up here, the truth is, low carb diets work for weight loss. However, as with any diet regime it is imperative that you actually develop a lifestyle change that will be readily maintainable if you want the weight to stay off.
You can eat plenty of lean meats and dairy substances on a low carb diet but you have to seriously regulate your grains, fruits and vegetables.
Therefore, it’s probably in your best interest to integrate some sort of vitamin supplement. Many of the things you’re supposed to stay away from on a low carb diet would be better off avoided anyway.
As much as we might love our Mt. Dews they aren’t doing us any good!
Finally, though there are certainly some health precautions to be aware of, and it’s always important to check with your doctor before starting any diet program, a low carb diet just might work for you.
And for the record, a study showed that people doing the Atkins diet for up to 2 years actually decreased their bad cholesterol.
If you have any questions, or comments, feel free to share them with us! We look forward to chatting with you.