How do Low Carbohydrate diets work?
The popularity of Low Carb diets has not lost their appeal in the past 20 or so years. People like the idea of being able to eat all they want – even if it means restricting certain foods.
While following a low carb wieght loss program you are allowed to eat as much protein as you want. Some will limit your fat intake while others do not. Carbohydrate intake is reduced and sometimes strictly limited.
The main draw of low carb diets is the rapid weight loss you experience. Most of the initial weight loss is due to water loss. Nearly everyone quickly regain lost weight once they begin eating carbs again.
Carbohydrates supply the main energy sources for your body to function. Carbs are one of the three main nutrients found in food.
High carbohydrate foods are the main source of fiber in our diets. Carbs are found in fruits, vegetables, dried peas, beans, corn, cereal, pasta, rice and whole grain breads.
The term “Low Carb Diets” is very broad. A low carb diet is one which reduces carbohydrate to less than 50% of total daily caloric intake.
- USDA recommends 50% carbs
- Moderate carb – 40% to 50%
- Low Carb – 25% to 39%
- Very Low Carb – less than 25%
So what is the percentage in terms of grams of carbs per day?
Depending on your total caloric intake you will consume some where between 200 to 300 grams of carbohydrates per day to eat the recommended 50% carbs.
Some low carb diets reduce carbs to 20 grams per day! This is about 2 slices of bread, a cup of fresh blueberries, or a half cup of cooked spaghetti.
Some low carb diets forbid bad carbs such as white flour, white bread and white sugar.
Low carb / high protein / high fat diets are based on the unproven theory that carbohydrates make people gain weight. It has been proven that eating too many calories is the basis for weight gain.
A diet high in protein and saturated fats could lead to heart disease, diabetes, gout and other health conditions. Low carb diets have been very controversial for the past 30 years.
Many experts believe that the weight lost on low carb diets is because the food restriction results in a reduction of calories.
People have been known to gain weight while following a low carb diet. This is due to the high fat content in a lot of high protein foods. So if you decide to go low carb, you’ll also want to watch your fat content.
It’s interesting to note that the first known diet book is a low carb diet. Written in 1864 “Letter on Corpulence” is William Banting’s strategy for losing weight.
If your body does not get enough carbs your body induces an unnatural state called ketosis. Supporters of low carb diets claim that your body burns more fat while in ketosis. This point remains controversial. Opponents argue that being in ketosis for more than a few weeks can cause serious complications.
According to Wikipedia …
“Ketosis (key-toe-sis) is a stage in metabolism occurring when the liver has been depleted of stored glycogen and switches to a fasting mode such as occurs during sleep, during dieting, and during the body’s response to starvation. Energy from fat is mobilized to the liver and used to synthesize glucose (a process called gluconeogenesis) from lactic acid, glucogenic amino acids, and glycerol carbon substrates.”
For more information on carbohydrates read our article
Are carbs good for me?
Popular Low-Carb Diets
Atkins Diet is the most popular of the low carb diets.
Carbs are strictly limited on this diet. Atkins is a very low carb diet and is what sparked the current low carb controversy.
The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet is a low carb diet that only allows you to eat carbs during one meal per day.
Scarsdale Diet was developed
in the 1970s by New York cardiologist Herman Tarnower. It is a low fat/high protein diet. It allows for 34.5% carbs. This diet is also very low in calories – about 1000 per day.
South Beach Diet
is based on the glycemic index. Only the induction phase of the diet is low carb.
The New Sugar Busters! is a low calorie / low carb diet. Sugar is prohibited. Daily caloric intake consists of 40% carbs.
is a moderate low carb diet. Carbs consist of 40% of daily calories. It’s based on achieving an ideal metabolic balance at each meal.