Low carbohydrate diets are commonly stated as the go-to option to lose a lot of weight and be healthier. Is there any truth in these statements?
The fact is that low carbohydrate diets can be good for you. This is as long as you follow them properly and look after your body while you do it. You can’t just start cutting out carbs and hope to lose weight. Your whole lifestyle needs changing if you want to lose weight.
At the same time, low carb diets can be good for the overall health. This again is as long as you follow the diets properly. You need to make sure you follow advice from your doctor and make sure you get the energy through other methods. After all, carbs are important.
Read up on the essentials on the low carbohydrate diets courtesy of our friends at Positive Health Wellness.
Low Carb and Not No Carb!
Let’s make one thing clear when we’re discussing low carb diets. We’re not talking about cutting all carbohydrates out completely. This is about cutting down on the amount of carbs that we eat.
Our bodies need the carbohydrates. These are what give us the energy we need throughout the day. Sure, there are diets like the keto diet that cut the carbs down but increase the fat to help create the ketones needed for more energy, but that doesn’t mean this type of diet is right for everyone.
In most cases, people will follow a low carb/high protein diet. These types of diets will also include lower saturated fats but still include some healthy fats. The aim is to have an overall healthier lifestyle while focusing on weight loss.
So, we need to get some carbohydrates in our systems. But there are two types of carbohydrates: simple carbs and complex carbs.
Simple carbs tend to be those in white pasta and rice, white bread, refined and processed products, and other similar items. They break down quickly, sugaring in the blood. That sets off the insulin response that can lead to you getting a sugar crash.
Complex carbs are the starchy options that have more fibre in them. They include the likes of brown pasta and rice, brown bread, and potatoes. They break down slowly over time and don’t create the high glucose response as their partner. You can end up with more energy throughout the day, as well as benefits to your digestive system.
Complex carbs are the ones that you want to get more of on a daily basis. You’ll find that the majority of low carbohydrate diets will encourage you to eat the complex options when you are allowed to eat them.
There are some diets that will cut out carbohydrates completely. Something that you need to consider when it comes to these is how you diet is going to replace the function that carbs has. You’ll also find that these diets are extremely restrictive and won’t even allow fruit! Yes, fruit has carbs in it!
Some of the very restricted diets are no-carb for a short period of time. They’ll allow a few carbs after that, but you’ll still find that you’re very limited and some fruits may still be completely off the list.
It’s really up to you which type of low carbohydrate diet you want to try out. Just how far are you willing to go?
Is a Low Carbohydrate Diet Good for You?
There are plenty of claims over low carb diets. People say that they will help you lose weight and others claim that you’ll live a healthier lifestyle.
There are two main low carbohydrate diets that people will follow: Atkins and paleo. Both of them certainly have their high claims when it comes to health and weight loss. Are any of these claims true? Well, let’s break them down.
You Can Shed the Pounds
The diets will tell you that you can lose weight while following them. There’s no doubt that you will be able to lose some weight while you follow these diets. But that is because we change the foods that we eat.
Rather than focusing on the high sugar foods, we start to eat more of the protein and fibre. These are two food groups that give us the feeling of being fuller for longer. They don’t release the same insulin response in our bodies, and we tend to eat far less regarding calories throughout the day.
Think about it carefully. When you opt for oatmeal rather than toast on a morning, it will make you feel fuller for longer, right? This is because the fibre takes longer to break down in the body. Even if you have brown toast, you’re getting a more filling and substantial breakfast by opting for oatmeal.
So, the diets do work and will help you lose weight.
Will they help you keep it off, though? This is where it’s all debated. To keep the weight off, you will need to keep following this new lifestyle—and that’s what these low carb diets are. They change your eating habits. If you go straight back to eating what you once ate, you will find that your weight will pile back on.
I’m going to let you in on a secret, though. This isn’t just the case with low carb diets. It’s the case for any type of diet!
Your Hypertension Will Become a Thing in the Past
Did you know that doctors originally designed the Atkins diet for those with hypertension? Scientists found that the high carbs were making blood pressure worse. It could have also been some of the fats that were in the foods, but a low carb, high protein diet seemed to do the trick.
Now doctors will recommend more protein and fewer carbs when it comes to changing the lifestyle for patients with hypertension. This is because it really does work.
The cholesterol levels are lowered, especially the bad cholesterol. This means that the vessels are protected so blood doesn’t clot as much. Hypertension becomes a thing of the past, and there are lower risks of stroke and heart disease.
At the same time as the diet, you will need to follow an exercise regime. This is important if you want to fulfill your healthy lifestyle aims.
Your Gut Will Thank You
Low carb diets are often recommended for those who have digestive problems, especially irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and other similar dietary problems. This is because of the ingredients that are found in carbohydrate-rich foods.
Those who recommend the Paleo diet say that it’s because our bodies weren’t designed for these types of foods. Our bodies were designed to live off the land. There’s no secret that we noticed more dietary problems once we started farming our own crops and creating products, but that could just be due to not having a full knowledge of problems from the Palaeolithic period.
It actually possibly isn’t the carbs, but the amount that we eat that cause a problem. Carbohydrates don’t really fill you up that much. You end up consuming them quickly and in portion sizes that are far too large for your needs. You end up consuming far too many calories, and your gut has to deal with everything.
There are mixed opinions over this benefit. People have certainly found that their stomach issues are eliminated by not eating so many carbs. They don’t suffer bloating as much and don’t have to deal with constipation that often.
Your Blood Sugar Levels Will Thank You
Another area you will see a benefit is in your blood sugar levels. When you eat a low carb diet, you will considerably cut down on the simple carbs; the ones that sugar very quickly.
There aren’t as many blood sugar rises throughout the day, which means your pancreas doesn’t need to release as much insulin. And what does this mean? You reduce your risk of an insulin problem leading to diabetes.
Your body will also become less dependent on carbohydrates, so you won’t crave for them as much. In fact, you’ll get to the point where you forget that you even had them on a daily basis! Your focus is on a healthier diet that you feel more satisfied with.
Your Body Gets More Macronutrients
Right now, your body is struggling to get the nutrients that it needs. This is because you’re over-consuming the carbs. When you cut them down, your body instantly requires more food. Instead of reaching for the bad stuff, you reach for the healthy stuff that has far more nutrients within them.
The risk of becoming nutrient deficient is a thing of the past. Well, there are some nutrients that you can still end up deficient in, but this is nowhere near as bad as when you consumed all those carbs.
And yes, you will naturally eat more of the macronutrients. You’ll get more iron, calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidants in your system. Even if you cut down on the fruit you eat, you’ll still get more of the nutrients through vegetables and dairy products. Vegetables are actually the best options for you since they’re so much lower in carbs but so much higher in the good stuff.
You will still need to watch the amount that you eat. It’s usually harder to consume too many proteins and fibre because they are so filling. However, it is still possible if you don’t think about it. You need to tell yourself to stop eating when you’re full, and you need to follow your own orders. If you consume too many calories compared to the amount that you burn, then you will still end up gaining weight!
Your Mind Will Be Happier
The more carbs you eat, the more sugar, crashes you’ll have. You get this sudden boost of energy, but it disappears completely soon after. You’re left craving more sugar just to give you a temporary boost.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get out of this cycle? Well, by cutting out the carbs you will. And this will mean your mind benefits. You’ll start to eat more long-term filling foods. Satisfaction throughout the day becomes easier, so you’ll find that you have fewer cravings throughout the day.
This isn’t going to come easy for some. You may have to deal with sugar withdrawals with your low carbohydrate diet, so be prepared for them. Just remind yourself that this is one of the best things for you.
By having more energy throughout the day, our mind remains in a happier place. We don’t wonder when we’ll get our next load of food and worry that it won’t keep us satisfied. Hunger pangs or even just the thought of going hungry sends the brain a message to release the wrong hormones. Being satisfied encourages it to send the happy hormones throughout the day.
Oh, and if you follow an exercise routine with your low carb diet you’ll benefit even more! Exercise helps the body release more endorphins and serotonin, so we feel happier and more pain-free throughout the day.
Can You Even Stick to a Low Carb Diet?
There are many worries that the low carbohydrate diet isn’t sustainable or a good lifestyle choice. This really depends on the person.
Sure, there are some who can’t live a low carb lifestyle. Just look at Oprah Winfrey who admits that she loves bread. She can’t do without it. A low carb diet would be the worst thing in the world for her.
But what if you’re not that interested in bread? What if you prefer to get your energy from vegetables, dairy, meats, and more? You could actually find the low carb approach much more suitable for your lifestyle. At this moment in time, you may already be well on your way to living a long term low carb life.
We’re all different. We all think differently and have different preferences when it comes to food. Something you need to decide is whether you need to have carbs in your life—and I really mean need. Will your mind hate you for even suggesting the idea that you cut down on them? Will you get the jitters with the idea or could you at least try it to see if it works for you?
Most sugary foods are high in carbs. It’s not likely the carbs but the sugars that you’re addicted to. Once you get through the withdrawal stage, you will be able to live your life free from them. You can cut down on the carbs that you eat.
As for the long term, there are people who follow these diets forever. They view the diets as lifestyle choices, and this is something you need to consider. Are you just doing a diet temporarily to lose weight or do you want to overhaul your lifestyle?
There is a risk of overeating afterwards. You tell yourself “no” that much that you just crave and crave and crave. The only thing you have on the brain is carbs. When you have that one bit of carb, you may lose control and eat far too many. This will depend on how you deal with cutting down on your favourite foods, but a lot of women experience this issue so it’s worth being made aware of it.
You Could Suffer Negatively
As I said, carbs aren’t always easy to give up. We get that feeling that our bodies need them. In fact, giving carbs up completely isn’t good for us. I’ve already told you that we need carbs for energy throughout the day. If we cut out or cut down too much, there are risks of negative things happening to our bodies.
The first problem is a change in personality. By getting rid of the energy, our bodies start to feel sluggish. Not only do we feel hungry but we also feel tired, and that really affects our mindset. There is the risk of mental illnesses like anxiety or depression setting in. It’s so important to find a way to replace the energy that you’re taking out.
You could also find that your digestive system is negatively affected. There is the risk of getting rid of far too many carbs and adding far too much fibre into your diet. You could end up with more bloating rather than less. You may find that your stomach has to deal with more cramping and constipation than ever before.
There are also risks of vitamin and ketosis deficiencies or problems with getting enough insulin in your body. Yes, you can go too far the wrong way. This is why it’s worth discussing your diet plans with your doctor or at least listening to the warning signs your body is trying to tell you.
And you know that it’s not all about diet. You also need to exercise. One of the best types of exercises for weight loss is high-intensity interval training. But you’re not going to be able to complete one of these sessions without that many carbs in your body. Remember the carbs fuel the body! There is a higher risk of you collapsing and even being dehydrated.
Think carefully about your diet. Make sure you put your health first before you try to make a complete lifestyle change.
Preparing Yourself for the Low Carbohydrate Diet
Before you even think about starting your low carb diet, you will need to get ready for it. This is going to be a major change to your lifestyle. A lot of your favourite foods will be on the banned or restricted list.
Read through any type of diet you decided to follow. This will help you get ready for certain stages and understand more about the type of diet you’re following. You’ll be able to do your research into it all and make sure it is the best option for your health.
It’s also worth setting up some goals. What do you want to achieve by following this diet? Is it just for your weight loss or do you have health goals that you also want to achieve? Make sure you are able to achieve your goals on a diet. Find out how others have done and look into the claims that the diet makes.
Write your goals down or have pictures up to help you along your way. These will remind you of what you’re striving towards when you have a bad day, and you just want to pack it all in.
Bear in mind that there will be times that you will go off the diet rails. You’ll sneak in those few extra carbs, or you won’t get out for your run. There’s no need to throw in the towel completely. You haven’t completely ruined your efforts. One bad day doesn’t stop you from reaching your goals. It’s what you do after that bad day that will make the difference.
Pick up a small journal or book to become your journal for the diet. You’ll appreciate being able to write about your journey, making a note of your accomplishments and sharing what has been hard. This is also a great place to make a note of everything you’ve eaten throughout the day to make sure you can stay on track. You can also track the exercise you do and your weight loss journey.
Low carb diets can be good for you. Your body certainly benefits but only if you follow the diets correctly. This isn’t about cutting out on all carbohydrates, but about cutting down to a sustainable amount. Your whole diet shouldn’t be focused on getting as many carbs as possible or fitting other food groups around your carbs. You want to use these types of foods to supplement your lifestyle.
A low carbohydrate diet could be dangerous. Do your research into the diet that you’ve found to make sure it is good for you, and there are people who have benefited in the way that you would like. Only then should you try the diet out for yourself?
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