by admin

November 1, 2021

There are thousands of competing diet plans with new ones coming out every day. However, many of the most popular and successful diets of the last few decades share a single characteristic -they emphasise reducing carbohydrates.

There are good reasons that low-carb eating is advocated by so many doctors, nutritionists, and other health experts. 

Why Low Carb Diets?

Why limit your intake of carbohydrates? Carbs aren’t bad per se. In fact, to some extent, they are necessary to provide you with energy. There are, however, several key benefits of reducing carbs.

  • Helps you enter ketosis. When you eat a typical high-carb diet, your body is busy burning these carbs. Ketosis simply means that your body starts burning fat rather than carbs. This is the basis of the popular ketogenic diet, though that’s only one of many low-carb diets.
  • Provides more stable energy. When you first start limiting carbs, you may experience a certain letdown. However, after a few days, your blood sugar levels will stabilise, giving you more consistent energy throughout the day.
  • Your appetite decreases. Another benefit of cutting back on carbs is that you’ll be less hungry. Reduced appetite means you’re less tempted to overeat and you’ll reduce your intake of calories naturally. 
  • Simpler than many other diets. When you reduce carbs, you don’t have to count calories. Nor do you have to eat highly specialised foods, such as pre-packaged meals. In a restaurant or at home, you can stick to protein and vegetables while skipping the bread and potatoes. 
  • Additional health benefits. Reducing carbohydrates can increase your HDL (or good) cholesterol, which helps reduce LDL (or bad) cholesterol. Some studies indicate that reducing carbs can help control blood pressure. 

 Carbohydrates, Good and Bad

Not all carbohydrates are the same. You may have heard of carbs being separated into the “good” and “bad” categories. Another, more scientific, distinction is between complex and simple carbs. Some people assume that simple carbs are bad and complex carbs are good but the truth is a bit more complicated.

Simple carbohydrates are sugars. They provide a quick spike in energy as well as glucose levels. Most of the foods considered to be bad carbs fit into this category such as soda, candy bars, chocolates and the actual sugar you might add to coffee or cereal. Yet fruits, which are healthy in moderate amounts, also contain simple carbs. 

Complex carbs provide longer-lasting energy by increasing blood glucose levels for longer periods. At the same time, many foods that contain complex carbohydrates, such as white flour, aren’t especially healthy.

The healthiest or “good” carbs are unprocessed foods that are high in fibre such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to limit the consumption of even these good carbs. 

Types of Low Carb Diets

There are quite a few diets where the main principle is reducing carbohydrates. Here are a few of the most popular diets. 

  • Atkins. The Atkins Diet was the first well-known diet that advocated cutting carbs. It’s a fairly straightforward diet that’s low in carbs while letting you consume as much protein and fat as you want. 
  • Ketogenic diet. As noted, any low-carb diet can help stimulate ketosis. There’s also a diet known as ketogenic or keto, which combines low-carb and high-fat. There are also cyclical keto diets that let you eat carbs once or twice per week. 
  • Zero-carb. As the name suggests, this is a diet that completely excludes carbohydrates. A similar idea is the carnivore diet, which is all meat. These extreme diets also exclude fruits and vegetables, which most health experts believe are beneficial. 
  • Paleo diet. Paleo diets purport to recreate the diets of primitive, pre-agricultural societies. While there are several variations, a paleo diet eliminates processed foods including bread and pasta, so it tends to be low-carb. It does, however, allow a certain amount of vegetables, seeds, and fruits.

Tips for Sticking to Your Low-Carb Diet

Above are among the best-known low-carb diets. You can find endless variations within each of these as well. If you want to reduce carbohydrates, you can research these diets and choose one that most appeals to you. Or you can simply cut back on carbs and create your own customised low-carb diet. What really counts, however, isn’t the name of your diet but how well you can stick to it. 

Research shows that people tend to lose weight by reducing carbohydrates. However, studies also indicate that the majority of dieters end up returning to their old eating habits.

Low-carb diets aren’t complicated. You don’t have to live on special meal packets or shakes or subsist on exotic foods and you don’t even really need to watch your caloric intake. However, it does help to have a strategy. 

  • Have realistic expectations. Many people lose weight quickly when they begin limiting carbs. However, the rate at which you shed pounds may level off after a month or two. Approach your diet as a long-term strategy rather than a quick fix. 
  • Allow yourself at least one “cheat” day per week. If your diet is too strict, it’s more likely that you’ll quit it at some point. Cheat days, which are built into some diets, allow you to partake in your favourite foods so you don’t feel deprived.
  • Plan ahead. Low-carb diets are easier to maintain than many other diets. Nevertheless, it’s easier to stick to any diet when you do some planning. Carry low-carb snacks so you’re not tempted by fast food and vending machines when you’re out and about. When eating out, research the menu ahead of time. 
  • Combine exercise with dieting. Research consistently shows that dieters have greater success when they exercise. As with dieting, consistency is the most important principle. Find a type of exercise you enjoy or can at least tolerate, and set aside time for it at least three times per week. 

Reducing carbohydrates can help you lose weight and improve your overall health. In order to achieve long-term results, it’s best to devise your own low-carb diet. You can draw on existing diets, such as the ones mentioned above or others. What counts is that you find a diet, preferably backed up by exercise, that suits your needs and lifestyle.

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