According to government statistics, more than two-thirds of the American population in 2009 are obese or overweight. The Centers for Disease Control called this as an epidemic, which poses the question about weight control methods that can effectively the crisis.
Obesity or being overweight increases the risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancers. High cholesterol levels, gastrointestinal diseases, allergies, neurological disorders, inflammatory and immune disorders, and cardiovascular disease are other common health issues that that can develop speedily due to food choices and type of diet.
Though there have been scientific studies supporting the effectiveness of low-carbohydrates diet in weight loss, many medical authorities, majority of which are mainstream, still recommend low-fat diet programs. It’s been proven that low-carb diet is far better than low-fat diet particularly in improving health, which leads to better blood sugar level, triglycerides and blood pressure.
In this article, we’ll discuss what low-carb diet is, what are its risks and health benefits, and why it works.
- 1 What is Low-Carb Diet?
- 1.1 Improvement in Glycemic Control
- 1.2 Effective in Losing Weight
- 1.3 Bump in HDL Cholesterol
- 1.4 Drop in Triglyceride levels
- 1.5 Natural Occurrence of Calorie Restriction
- 1.6 Alteration in LDL Cholesterol Patterns
- 1.7 Neurological Function Protection
- 1.8 Reduction in Inflammatory Foods Intake
- 1.9 Foods That Trigger Weight Gain and Sensitivities are Highlighted
- 1.10 Sharpened Focus on Whole Foods
- 1.11 Very Easy to Follow
- 1.12 Improvement in Physical Performance
What is Low-Carb Diet?
There is no definitive rules about the meaning of “low-carb” particularly in terms of the amount of carbohydrates allowed for consumption.
One crucial point is the translation between carbs and calories. It can be confusing because many low-carb diet plans does not focus on calories but rather on grams of carbohydrates.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ 2010 version recommended that around 45% to 65% of the total calories you consume daily should make up the carbohydrate you take. If you eat 1,800 calories daily, half of the calories, if you follow government recommendations, would come from carbohydrates. This translates to around 200-300 grams of carbs.
One crucial aspect also is the source of carbs. For example, eating nuts, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are effective in reducing weight while other carbs sources such as processed foods, refined grains, sugar and potato chips are found to increase weight.
There is a list of foods you need to avoid when you follow a low-carb diet. On top of the list is high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners, along with white flour and other refined grains.
Ketoacidosis happens when there is uncontrolled diabetes. The blood is flooded with glucose and ketones, which requires immediate medical attention. This is different from ketosis, which is about the use of fat for fuel instead of carbs. This happens when you follow a low-carb diet with less than 50 grams every day.
Below are 12 reasons why you may want to consider low-carb diets and its risks and benefits.
Improvement in Glycemic Control
A UK study, which lasted three months, revealed that low-carb diets are effective for both non-diabetic and diabetic patients in losing their weight. The diabetic patients were given the option to follow a “healthy” diet or low-carb plan. However, patients who followed both plans were able to lose more weight.
It seems that low-carb diets have more benefits to diabetics. This is because glucose can’t be admitted in their cells. When they eat carbs, the blood glucose levels rise, which is very toxic.
There are cases that diabetics that follow dietary therapy reduce insulin intake by as much as 50% of their dose, just after the first day of the diet plan. This sounds like an incurable disease is curable after all. There are diabetics who were able to discontinue medication after several weeks or months of following low-carb diet.
Effective in Losing Weight
Over a 6-month period, there is a dramatic drop in Body mass Index (BMI) in low-carb diets than in restricted calorie diets that source 30% of calories from fat. In the trial, the low-carb group lost more weight than the low-fat group. The group lost around 8 pounds, 5 pounds of which was body fat, without harmful effects on the cardiovascular system.
Another study, which lasted for 13 weeks, involved adolescents. The results showed significant reductions in BMI.
With low-carb diets, the abdominal area loses more fat. So, deeply embedded fat linked to higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes is targeted.
Bump in HDL Cholesterol
You may think that cholesterol is bad and can’t be good. Well, HDL is a good kind of cholesterol, which favors your health when it increases. An HDL sub-type moves cholesterol to the liver from the body’s peripheral areas. When in the liver, the cholesterol can be excreted or re-used. Thus, problems like arterial plaque build-up are avoided because there are no unwanted deposits of cholesterol.
In the development of coronary heart disease, one of the risk factors’ dependable marker is the ratio between triglycerides and HDL, which is improved when you follow a low-carb diet. You keep your heart healthy if you have a better ratio.
Drop in Triglyceride levels
Unlike low-fat diets, low-carb diets are consistent in keeping a low triglyceride level.
You have a high chance of developing cardiovascular disease if you have high blood triglyceride levels. If you follow a low-fat diet, you may lose weight but you may suffer from high levels of triglyceride due to high carbs intake.
Natural Occurrence of Calorie Restriction
There is a tendency to consume fewer amounts of calories during every meal. This naturally happens because the focus of low-carb diets are consumption of high-fiber vegetables and proteins without restriction on fat consumption. This makes low-carb diets very satisfying.
There is greater satiation factor in low carb-diets, which allows for non-regulation of portions of the diet.
Alteration in LDL Cholesterol Patterns
LDL cholesterol is a bad type of cholesterol. When on a low-carb diet, it’s a risk factor that doesn’t change significantly. There two types of LDL cholesterol. One is like a BB gun ammunition and is dense and small. The other is like cotton balls, fluffy and bigger.
The dense and tiny LDL particles can contribute to the development of heart disease when they are oxidized, which is not good. This happens when the particles penetrate the walls of arteries. This means that more fluffy particles is better than more BB particles.
With low-carb diets, the circulatory system is protected with the increase in number of beneficial particles, even when reading of LDL cholesterol don’t drop. This happens because the ratio and pattern of LDL cholesterol in the blood changes.
Neurological Function Protection
A ketogenic diet is has been used to help epileptic patients for more than 80 years now. The diet reduces the incidence of an epileptic patient’s seizure activity because the patient has restricted carbohydrate intake.
The risk of the development of neurological disorders can significantly drop if you follow a low-carb diet. It is also useful in modifying the brain’s abnormal electrical activity.
There are latest studies that show the promise of low-carb diets in treating other neurological disorders, which include Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. There is an ongoing test about an extremely low-carb diet and its protective qualities on brain injury and stroke patients.
Grain Brain: the Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killer author and neurologist David Perlmutter expressed his belief that the brain suffers from chronic inflammation when there is too much carbohydrates in the diet. This results to headaches, depression, anxiety, dementia, and ADHD.
Reduction in Inflammatory Foods Intake
The low-carb diet restricts a lot of foods that are identified as causes of chronic inflammation, which is associated with inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, arthritis, rheumatoid, and other health conditions.
The health care system recognizes chronic inflammation as an enormous burden. The inflammation significantly increases the risk of developing and acquiring a long list of disorders such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, peptic ulcers, sinusitis and obesity.
The Arthritis Foundation listed inflammatory foods, which includes in its top 8 refined grains and sugar that are not included on any low-carb diet plan.
You’ll realize that a low-carb diet and anti-inflammatory diet have the same list of foods that must be consumed. There is an addition of omega-3 fatty acids rich nuts and fish in anti-inflammatory diet plans.
Foods That Trigger Weight Gain and Sensitivities are Highlighted
The best way to determine whether or not you are tolerant to certain foods is to remove them and add them back to your diet after a specified time. This prevents you from availing expensive testing and following elimination diet plans.
Even when temporary, cutting certain foods out of your diet will allow the low-carb diet to work at its best. Most commonly, sugar and wheat are the ones removed from the list. Then, you’ll feel the impact when you them back to your diet later.
Gluten intolerance is an issue for some. Others, as a response to sugar, become aware of glycemic changes in the body. However, a powerful motivator to make healthy choices in the food we eat is personal experience.
If you find it difficult to lose weight or achieve better health status because of certain foods included in your low-carb diet, then eliminating and reintroducing them is a priceless method. The results can be uncomfortable and dramatic but it’s worth the try.
You’ll find it difficult to understand how addictive sugar is until you remove it from your diet plan, and then reintroduce it again. The National Institutes of Health issued a report that states how compelling sweet and sugar rewards in eliciting biological response compared to cocaine.
Depending on your taste and preference, you’ll have a sharpened focus on the choice of whole foods you include in your diet. This is a result of cutting out refined and processed foods rich in carbs.
When we talk about “bad carbs” and “good carbs”, there are crops and vegetables that you must also eat in moderation. For example, instead of consuming more white potatoes it is better to replace them with yams and sweet potatoes, which are low in carbs but high in fiber.
The food pyramid from USDA shows wise choices of diet foods. Recently, this was transformed into an illustrative plate, which presents a plate half-filled with vegetables and fruits.
There is an abundance of low-carb vegetables in flavor, texture and variety. Acceptable also are fruits low in sugar, such as grapefruit and blueberries. You’ll be able to replace the “bad” carbs if you consume more of these low-car high-fiber foods. Every diet classifies this measure as “healthy”.
Very Easy to Follow
According to data from the comparison of around 20 diet plans, it was revealed that many are able to consistently follow a low-carb diet.
The success in losing weight is attributed to strict implementation of the diet plan. Don’t follow other people who quit with their diet plans because they end up having the same weight and unhealthy conditions.
Improvement in Physical Performance
It’s amazing how athletes discipline themselves to achieve improvements in their performance levels. The same can be achieved through the adoption of a low-carb diet plan. Studies with 20-year timeframe have proven this similar effect of low-carbs diet.
Athletes are able to use their body fat for ongoing energy needs when they follow a low-carb diet. This allows glycogen to be stored and remain stable in the muscles, while the body converts fat to fuel. This results to a body composition that is desirable for endurance- and stamina-requiring physical endeavors.
The availability of oxygen hugely affects the level of athletic performance. When in a low-carb diet, athletes have an enhanced ability to have access to sufficient amounts of oxygen, which are need to support physical effort in its maximum level.
Low-carb diets have been branded as “fad” diets and, for decades, there have been fuzz about it, but the fact is there is no research study that support these views. But one thing stays true: You can improve your health and stay away from portion control or hunger pains when you’re on a low-carb diet.
There is a wide range of options if you want to adopt a low-carb diet plan that will help you lose weight, protect neurological function, reduce the risk of developing and acquiring modern disorders and diseases, and restructure your body composition.