What are Carbohydrates?
Essential to any low carb diet, is the strict reduction in the level of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are a readily available source of energy. Carbs are a vital part of your diet and provide you with essential vitamins and minerals.
When you eat carbohydrates your body converts it into calories that are
used for energy.
While most carbs are quickly and easily used by the body for energy or stored for exercise, consuming too much can lead to weight
The low carb diet methods of weight-loss, work on this assumption that too much carbs will cause your body to accumulate fat.
When you consume carbohydrates, the body converts them into sugar, which
then enters the bloodstream. There are essentially two types of carbs: (a) this category includes foods such as whole grain bread, fruit and vegetables. These types of carbs are harder to break down so they gradually release sugar into the bloodstream. (b) This category consists of sweets, pastries, soft drinks which have high sugar levels, are quickly digested, thereby releasing sugar more quickly into the bloodstream.
How do low carbohydrate diets work?
With the low carb diet method of weight-loss, emphasis is on reducing carbohydrates drastically. Taking a decision to start a low carb or low carbohydrate diet will mean replacing all or most of your carbohydrate consumption with fats and proteins.
While diets will vary in their recommendations, the carb diet low method of weightloss involves a high-fat and moderate protein intake. On low carb diets you are most unlikely to feel hungry, since high fat foods are very filling. In general, a low carb permits you to eat as much of these foods to satisfy your self at each sitting. Typical foods you can eat include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese, plus a limited amount of green vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, broccoli.
The fat burning process: Research has shown that fats consumed on low carb diet for weightloss, does not necessarily convert into body fat. Experts say that people who are overweight mostly become so because of hyperinsulinemia - which is effectively, elevated insulin levels in the blood. Consuming a meal high in carbohydrates increases blood sugar and stimulates insulin production by the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone that allows blood sugar to be used by the cells.
However, side effects of insulin is to cause fat to be deposited as well as stimulating your brain to produce hunger signals. These signals lead to eating more carbohydrates and it becomes a never ending cycle.
Using the low carbohydrate diet method, which effectively restricts your intake of carbohydrates stops this cycle, since this reduction leads to decreased insulin levels and increased glucagon - which is a hormone that causes body fat to be burned and cholesterol deposits to be removed from the arteries.
When carbohydrate intake is severely restricted, as in the low carb diet weight loss scenario, the body goes into what is called 'ketosis', which then classifies your diet as a 'ketogenic diet';
which (incidentally, is the same as the diet used to control some forms of epilepsy).
It is in this state (ketosis), that the body starts to burn
fat, which in turn produce ketones in the blood. This is the point that the body is said to be in 'ketosis' - As blood sugar levels stabilize and your insulin level drops, you begin to burn fat.
This is a very high efficiency state of metabolism, since your high fat and low carb diet tells your body it is'nt in starvation, your metabolism remains at a normal level. How do you know when you're in 'ketosis?' You can test your urine, using ketone strips which you can buy from pharmacies.
Types of low carbohydrate diets
There are several kinds of low carb diet variations of weightloss. Each will typically restrict specific food types and/or amounts of foods that can be consumed. Many promises and miraclous claims are often being made as to quick weight loss that can be achieved with equally as many 'fad' diets.
Be warned! Many of these will prove ineffective, since they work on the assumption that everyone who subscribe to a particular diet will benefit from it. This is not the case, since there are many factors to consider. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another, due to the fact that your metabolic rate and your personal lifestyle is unique to you.
Do also bear in mind that any weightloss dieting, irrespective of whether or not it's the carb diet low method, should not be carried out over the long-term for safety sake, unless of course you are being medically supervised.
Additionally, it has been established that while
dieting can prove an effective form of weight loss in the short-term, it becomes less so over the long-term. This is because, when you cut down on the amount of food your body has grown accustomed
to, it responds defensively by storing excess fat to stave off starvation.
The following is an overview of the three most popular carb diet low
methods of weight loss you might want to research further.
By far, the Atkins diet is probably the most popular and well known of all low carbohydrate weight loss, although as a meat protein diet, it is unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans
You can pick up a Free atkins recipe ebook here, that details atkins allowable foods, atkins allowable desserts, an atkins food list and a carb gram counter.
Other well known carb diet low weight loss programs include: the South Beach and Zone diets. The theory behind all these carb low diets is that they reduce insulin levels, which in turn
cause the body to burn its own fat for energy.
Under these low carb dietary programs, foods that contain carbohydrates such as: sugar, grains, and starches are either restricted
or they are replaced with protein foods and fats. Vegetables, are favoured as being more healthy over grain-based carbohydrates, even though they too are considered to be carbohydrates.
These types of low carbs weight loss are not a new phenomena - they have been around for years, but from time to time there is a resurgence of interest as a result of changing trends. While there has been controversy and many a challenge by nutrition experts and other health professionals as to their safety, there is strong evidence to suggest that a carb low diet can help people achieve successful weight loss in the short-term.
Several independent clinical trials have shown that a carb diet low in carbohydrate can in fact help people to lose weight. While the trials found that in the short-term, risk factors for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes improved despite the increase in consuming saturated fats and cholesterol, the trials were short-term and were therefore not able to measure any long-term health effects of the carb diet low method of weight loss.
Differing theories on low carb diets
What all reduced carbohydrate diets have in common, is that they agree unanimously on the amount of carbohydrate intake and on the method used to determine which sources of carbs should be consumed and which should not.
While in general they all agree that processed sugar should be eliminated or at least be significantly reduced, they often differ on the recommended levels of grains, fruits and vegetables allowed in the carb diet. In general though there
is broad agreement on their hierachy of importance - i.e. vegetables are
deemed better than fruit and fruit is better than grains - (all of which
of course are sources of carbohydrates.
Choosing the right diet for you
It is important to remember that a diet that limits portions to a very small size or that excludes certain foods entirely to promote weight loss (as in the case of the carb diet low method), may not be effective over the long term. It is also very much easier to maintain a diet that takes into account the foods that you like and dislike. It is equally important to ensure your chosen weight loss diet also includes sufficient nutrients for your overall health.
Here are some of questions you might just want to ask yourself, prior to starting your weightloss diet goal, regardless of whether it's the carb diet low method or not:
Will the weight loss diet food requirement fit with my eating preferences?
What level of calorie intake will be appropriate for me?
What do I know about the diet's nutritional balance?
Will I need additional vitamin or mineral suppliments?
How easy or difficult will I find it to prepare and/or access meals, e.g. perhaps after a busy day at work?
How practical is it for me to start and stick with this
diet - especially if cooking for the family?
What is my weekly target weightloss and how healthy is this?
How do I plan on maintaining my weightloss upon ending my diet?
(i.e. setting a healthy eating goal and/or regular exercise etc.,)
Self-help: carb diet low
Before you start on a carb diet low method of weightloss or any other diet for that matter, it's a good idea to
seek professional advice and guidance. It is especially important to ensure you're getting the right amount of nutrition for your health and that any additional nutritional suppliments you might
need, is researched thoroughly. Please don't either be swayed by claims that a product is 'natural. being natural does not automatically guarantee it is safe and will not cause
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Low Carb Diets: Facts
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Now that you're armed with knowledge as to the carb diet low method of weightloss and how it works, there is nothing stopping you from pursuing your weight loss goal. If you need guidance on setting a weight- loss or any other of your personal health goals, then you'll find some
relevant information and guidance at Activity Goal Setting.
Should you decide on a less restrictive low carb diet
supplemented with exercise, you'll find the information
specific to weight loss and exercise of great help.
ever you decide - take action!
"Inside me STILL lives a skinny woman crying to get out. But I continue to shut her up with cookies"?
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