The idea behind the low carb diet is simple; cut out all food that is high in carbohydrates. The theory behind low carb diets is that carbohydrates promote insulin production, which will result in weight gain. Therefore, you will lose weight by reducing carbohydrate intake, while being able to eat your favorite foods, such as hamburgers, steak, eggs and cheese. But, are very low carb diets safe and healthy diets?
Very Low Carbohydrate Diets are not the Healthiest Diets
- Very low carb diets eliminate many important foods. Eliminating carbs removes many food choices, both healthy and unhealthy, including healthy anti oxidant rich fruits and vegetables and whole grain food.
- Very low carb diets places emphasis on high fat foods. While very low carb diets restrict process foods, a good thing, this type of diet often places emphasis on high fat foods like meats which can contribute to heart disease.
- Carbohydrates provide energy sources for the kidneys and brain. If the body is deprived of carbohydrates, then it will break down the amino acids from protein in order to make glucose for these functions.
- Very low carbohydrate diets cause muscle loss. When glycogen stores are severely depleted through dietary restriction, your body will burn protein for energy, converting muscle tissue into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. Carbohydrates have a protein-sparing effect - they help ensure that you don't burn up muscle for energy. Extremely strict very low carbohydrate diets invariably cause muscle to be lost along with the fat.
- Depriving the body of carbohydrates your energy will be severely limited. If energy is too low, workouts are limited. Adding new muscle becomes limited and ultimately less muscle means fewer calories burned and a slower metabolism which in the long run will derail a successful weight loss plan. Carbohydrates are the body's best source of instant energy.
- Most Weight loss on a very low carbohydrate diet is muscle and water. If you distinguish between the types of weight lost, the result of a low carb diet can be quite negative. For example, in a five-pound weight loss, if one pound is fat, two pounds is water and two pounds is muscle, a five-pound weight loss doesn't look so good.
- Very low carbohydrate diets suggest eating large amounts of fat. Many low carbohydrate diets suggest eating large amounts of fat, including saturated fats. In the absence of carbohydrates, you eat fat with protein and still lose weight. But it's unhealthy to eat large amounts of saturated or highly processed fats for an extended period of time.
- Low carbohydrate levels affect your mental state. The low carbohydrate diet is infamous for producing "brain fog" because your brain and central nervous system function almost exclusively on glucose. When you deprive yourself of carbohydrates for any prolonged period of time, you will often become tired, weak, moody, irritable and an all around grouchy.
- Very low carbohydrate diets are restrictive and difficult to stay on. By their very nature, low carbohydrate diets are restrictive and difficult to follow. On a very low carbohydrate diet, you are only allowed to eat protein, meat and fat with limited amounts of low calorie carbohydrates. Extremely restrictive diets require tremendous willpower and almost always set you up for cravings and bingeing. Many people fail simply because they can't faithfully stay "on the wagon."
- Weight/fat re-gain is almost inevitable. If you lose weight on a very low carbohydrate diet, the odds of keeping the weight off are overwhelmingly against you. The lower you drop your carbohydrates, the more your body will rebound when carbohydrates are re-introduced.
How to Make Low Carbohydrate Diets Work
- Eat a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Protein, carbohydrate and fats each have a role in how a human being functions and stays alive. Protein is required for tissue replacement and repair. Carbohydrates supply the fuel required by our cells to function. Fats also supply a quality source of fuel for the body. Make sure that you include enough carbohydrates in your diet to sustain the energy level you need to make it through the day.
- Include low glycemic high fibrous carbs in your diet. By including low glycemic high fibrous carbohydrates you can improve protein utilization, increase the variety of food in your diet while not adversely affecting your insulin levels or your diet.
- A moderate reduction in carbohydrates all it takes. A moderate reduction in carbohydrates is often all it takes to help to control blood sugar and insulin better. It's really just a matter of balancing carbohydrates with protein.
- Cycle your Carbohydrates. By cycling your carbohydrates (e.g., 300 grams one day, 150 grams the next day, 400 grams the following day, 100 grams etc.) you are able to keep your metabolism burning stored fat, while keeping your energy levels higher, and also preventing your body from burning muscle and slowing down.
- Drink water with low carbohydrate diets. With low carbohydrates diets, make sure you are drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water daily. The large amount of water keeps the kidneys working "overtime" eliminating fluids, and actually helps to prevent water retention.
- Gradually add extra carbohydrates back in to your diet. In a low carbohydrate diet when you have reached your desired weight, you must GRADUALLY add extra carbohydrates back in to the diet. During the course of the diet, should learn the difference between complex carbohydrates, and simple sugars. Complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy, preferable to the rapid bursts of energy provided by simple sugars. Good examples of complex carbohydrates are found in fruit, nuts, grains, potatoes, rice, etc. Simple sugars are basically foods that contain good old fashioned white sugar. Good examples are candy, cookies, pie, soft drinks, etc.
Bottom Line on Proper Weight Loss
Eat a reduced-calorie balanced diet that includes recommended amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Follow a balanced diet with a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, meat and fish. Along with limiting your saturated and trans fat intake in addition to being physically active will result in long lasting weight loss and improved health.
About the Author Lynn Glenn