This is the era of body consciousness. With the emerging surge in fitness and fashion influencers with their perfect body, every being is now spending their time on the internet searching for diet and workouts to land themselves a perfect body. You must probably be the same and that’s why you are here.
You must have surely heard of Low-carb diets. So what are those?
What is a low carb diet?
Well, it seems that there is no specific definition of a low carb diet. But yes, it means diets that are deprived of carbohydrates. Low carb diets possess the ability to promote weight loss, reduce blood sugar levels, and improve overall health. You may be shocked to hear that a low carb diet promotes more weight loss than a weight loss diet.
The basic principle of low-carb diets is to limit the intake of carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, and rice, and instead consume more protein, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables.
Typically, a low-carb diet involves reducing carbohydrate intake to less than 100 grams per day, and in some cases, as low as 20-50 grams per day. Foods that are typically limited or avoided on a low-carb diet include sugary foods, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and other starchy foods. Instead, the diet emphasizes protein sources such as meat, fish, and poultry, as well as non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and coconut oil.
Some examples of low carb vegetables are: Cauliflower, Asparagus, Broccoli, etc whereas the low carb fruits are: Avocado, Strawberry, Watermelon, etc.
Why To Opt For A Low-Carb Diet
Some people choose this approach to lose weight, as it can help reduce appetite and promote weight loss. Low-carb diets can also help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and improve various markers of heart health, such as blood pressure, triglycerides, and HDL (good) cholesterol. Additionally, some people believe that low-carb diets can improve cognitive function and reduce inflammation in the body.
Benefits of Low-Carb Diets
Low-carb diets have been shown to be effective in promoting weight loss. When you eat fewer carbohydrates, your body is forced to burn stored fat for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates. This leads to a reduction in body fat and weight loss. Studies have shown that low-carb diets can be just as effective, if not more effective, than low-fat diets for weight loss.
- Better Blood Sugar Control
Low-carb diets can also help improve blood sugar control. When you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. This causes a spike in blood sugar levels, which can be problematic for people with diabetes. By reducing carbohydrate intake, blood sugar levels can be better controlled, reducing the risk of complications associated with diabetes.
- Improved Heart Health
Low-carb diets can improve heart health by reducing the amount of unhealthy fats in the diet. When you eat fewer carbohydrates, you naturally consume more healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados. These healthy fats can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
- Lower Blood Pressure
Low-carb diets tend to be high in protein and fat, which can lead to weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, both of which can contribute to lower blood pressure.
A 2010 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who followed a low-carbohydrate diet for six months had greater reductions in blood pressure compared to those who followed a low-fat diet. However, it’s worth noting that the study was relatively small and short-term, and more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Types of Low-Carb Diets
- Keto Diet
The keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that has gained popularity in recent years. The goal of the keto diet is to get the body into a state of ketosis, where it is burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. To achieve this, the diet requires a very low intake of carbohydrates, typically less than 50 grams per day. The majority of calories come from healthy fats, with moderate amounts of protein.
Some of the healthy foods to include in your keto diet are:
- Animal proteins like seafood, meat, eggs, dairy products, plant-based milk
- Nuts and seeds
- Shirataki noodles
- Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
- Paleo Diet
The paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, is based on the idea that we should eat like our ancestors did. The diet focuses on whole, unprocessed foods, including meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. The paleo diet is low in carbohydrates but not as low as the keto diet. The goal is to eliminate processed foods and focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods.
Some of the healthy foods to include in a paleo diet are:
- Avocado oil
- Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet is a low-carb, high-protein diet that was popular in the early 2000s. The diet is divided into four phases, with the first phase being the most restrictive, allowing only 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. As the diet progresses, more carbohydrates are allowed, but the focus remains on protein and healthy fats.
Some of the healthy foods to include in an Atkins diet are:
- Coconut oils
Tips for Getting Started on a Low-Carb Diet
- Start Slow
If you are new to low-carb diets, it can be overwhelming to make a sudden change to your diet. Start by slowly reducing your carbohydrate intake and increasing your intake of healthy fats and protein. This will allow your body to adjust gradually and make the transition easier.
- Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals in advance is essential when following a low-carb diet. Make a list of low-carb foods and plan your meals accordingly. This will help ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need and will make it easier to stick to your diet.
- Choose Healthy Fats
When following a low-carb diet, it is important to choose healthy fats, such as those found in nuts.
Foods And Beverages to be included in a low carb diet
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, peas, corn
- Higher-carb fruits: bananas, pineapples, mango, and many others
- Whole grains: brown rice, oats, quinoa
- Legumes: lentils, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas
- Higher-carb dairy: milk and full-fat yogurt
- What’s more, you can have the following in moderation, if you want:
- dark chocolate with at least 70% of cocoa
- dry wines with no added sugar or carbs
- sugar-free carbonated beverages, like sparkling water
What Not To Include in a Low Carb Diet
Avoid foods rich in sugar and starch in a low carb diet. These foods contain a high proportion of carbs.
Disadvantages of low carb diet
While low-carb diets can provide a range of health benefits, they may also have some disadvantages. Here are some of the potential drawbacks of low-carb diets:
- Nutrient Deficiencies
Cutting out whole food groups, such as carbohydrates, can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Carbohydrates are a key source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and by reducing carbohydrate intake, you may not be getting enough of these essential nutrients. It’s important to ensure that you are still getting enough vitamins and minerals through other sources, such as non-starchy vegetables and supplements if necessary.
- Lack of Energy
Low-carb diets can lead to a lack of energy, especially during the initial stages of the diet. When you eat fewer carbohydrates, your body has to switch to using fat for energy, which can take some time to adjust to. This can lead to feelings of fatigue and lethargy, which can make it difficult to exercise or be productive.
- Difficulty Maintaining the Diet Long-Term
Low-carb diets can be difficult to maintain long-term, especially if you are used to eating a diet high in carbohydrates. It can be challenging to find low-carb options when eating out or attending social events, and this can make it challenging to stick to the diet. Some people may also find the restriction on carbohydrates too difficult to sustain over time.
- Increased risk of heart disease:
While low-carb diets may help reduce certain risk factors for heart disease, they may also increase levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease in some individuals.
- Difficulty with sustainability:
Low-carb diets can be challenging to maintain over the long term, and many people find it difficult to stick with them. This can lead to weight regain and other health problems.