Low carb foods are foods with relatively low sugar content. One of the most common diets, the low carb diet, is largely discussed in many states. Menus and stores around the world offer specific low carb foods. Perhaps this is one reason why the average person decides to reduce his weight through the low carb diet.
The weight of a person is controlled via the amount of consumed calories. The less one eats, the more likely it is to lose weight. The calories one consumes will be reduced if he or she limits considerably the quantity of carbs. This is why the low carb diet resembles a calorie diet, the difference lying only in the reduction of carbs. This fact makes some wonder why these diets are so popular. Why should one limit the amount of carbs when a much healthier option includes the combined reduction of protein, fat and carbs? This won’t limit one to the consumption of foods low on carbohydrates. The number of consumed calories will be decreased by the overall reduction of food types, rather than carbs, as in the case of diets based on the low carb intake. This is just an alternative point of view.
Naturally, the idea behind the low carb diet is to consume mainly foods that contain low quantity of carbohydrates. Probably, many people already ponder which foods make for good representation of this type. The foods known to contain few carbs are typically products which contain high quantities of fat and protein. Examples of such foods include meat, turkey, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs, and so on.
Alternatively, other foods, rich in carbohydrates, prepared in such a way as to suit a low carb diet. Common examples include pasta, spaghetti, the Atkins candy bar, Atkins cereal, Atkins breakfast bars, and peanut butter cups.
Separating the good from the bad carbs is the next important step which people should learn while on a low carb diet. Complex carbohydrate is the technical term used for the “good carbs”, while simple carbs refer to the “bad carbs”. High glycemic carbs are bad (or simple) while low clycemic carbs are good (complex). “Glycemic” is a term used for the speed at which the food manages to raise the insulin levels and the blood sugar, leading to fat gains.
Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight?
As the name says, a low-carb diet restricts the amount of carbohydrates you can eat. Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and beverages. Most carbohydrates occur naturally in plant-based foods, such as grains. Food manufacturers also add carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of starch or added sugar.
Common food sources of naturally occurring carbohydrates include:
Your body uses carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Sugars and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. They’re then absorbed into your bloodstream, where they’re known as blood sugar (glucose). From there, the glucose enters your body’s cells with the help of insulin. Some of this glucose is used by your body for energy, fueling all of your activities, whether it’s going for a jog or simply breathing. Extra glucose is stored in your liver, muscles and other cells for later use or is converted to fat.
The theory behind the low-carb diet is that insulin prevents fat breakdown in the body by allowing sugar to be used for energy. Proponents of the low-carb diet believe that decreasing carbs results in lower insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy and ultimately helps you shed excess weight and reduce risk factors for a variety of health conditions.
Rice, pasta, and white bread exemplify foods that are high on sugar and classified as “bad carbs”. Brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread, on the other hand, are examples of foods, classified as complex or “good carbs”. While on a low carb diet, people are truly losing weight. It actually works. At the start of the diet, substantial part of the weight loss is actually a pure water loss. Glycogen is used because the low carb foods are also low on energy. So, the water weight drops.
Energy imbalances lead to the growth of obesity and overweight people. In contrast to the intake of any singe nutrient, the decrease in energy expenditure or the increase in energy intake lead to bad energy balances. Individuals should be suspicious of diets which omit or restrict the daily regime to any single nutrient: especially those which offer no psychosocial support and observe no metabolic parameters.
Typical menu for a low-carb diet
In general, a low-carb diet focuses on proteins, including meat, poultry, fish and eggs, and some nonstarchy vegetables. A low-carb diet generally excludes or limits most grains, beans, fruits, breads, sweets, pastas and starchy vegetables, and sometimes nuts and seeds. Some low-carb diet plans allow certain fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A daily limit of 50 to 150 grams of carbohydrates is typical with a low-carb diet. Some low-carb diets greatly restrict carbs during the initial phase of the diet and then gradually increase the number of allowed carbs.
In contrast, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calorie intake. So, if you consume 2,000 calories a day, you would need to eat between 900 and 1,300 calories a day from carbohydrates, or between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.
Most likely, the excessive restriction on carbohydrates will lead to long lasting negative consequences for the person’s health. This is especially valid for the restricted consumption of foods, such as vegetables and fruits, which are known as healthier carbohydrate sources. Because of this, the focus of the discussion may shift from amounts to the carbohydrate’s sources. Minimally processed fruits, grains, dairy foods, and vegetables may replace highly processed foods for maximum benefit. Individuals aiming as efficient and healthy weight loss should use sugar and sweets in moderation. The application of these guidelines makes the use of manufactured and highly processed foods redundant.
Some low-carb diets, including the Atkins Diet, say that their eating plans can prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In fact, almost any diet that helps you shed excess weight can reduce or even reverse risks factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Most weight-loss diets — not just low-carb diets — may improve blood cholesterol or blood sugar levels, at least temporarily. Low-carb diets may improve HDL cholesterol and triglyceride values slightly more than do moderate-carb diets. And it may not only be how many carbs you eat but also the kinds of carbs you eat that are important to your health. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products, for instance, are generally healthier than are carbs from sweets and processed and refined grains, such as potato chips, white bread and white rice.
If you suddenly and drastically cut carbs, you may experience a variety of temporary health effects, including:
In addition, some diets restrict carbohydrate intake so much that they can result in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fiber. This can cause such health problems as constipation, diarrhea and nausea. Eating carbs that are high fiber, whole grain and nutrient dense can improve the health profile of some low-carb diet programs. And some low-carb diets, such as Atkins, now recommend taking small amounts of extra salt, along with vitamins or supplements, to help prevent diet side effects.
Iris Shai, R.D., Ph.D., Dan Schwarzfuchs, M.D., Yaakov Henkin, M.D., Danit R. Shahar, R.D., Ph.D., Shula Witkow, R.D.,