low carbohydrate diets


Curious about low carbohydrate diets? Here are some facts about low carbohydrate diets that may assist you in your dieting choices.

Low-carbohydrate diets or low carb diets, are food diet programs for weight loss and dietary health that advocate restricted carbohydrate consumption, based on research that ties carbohydrate consumption with increased blood insulin levels, and increased insulin with obesity.

Under these various dietary programs, foods containing carbohydrates (like sugar, grains, and starches) are limited or replaced in favor of foods containing more protein and fat. Vegetables, though classified as carbohydrates, are thought to be far healthier than grain-based carbohydrates. Programs such as the South Beach, Atkins and Zone diets, are claimed to "work" because they reduce insulin levels, which in turn causes the body to burn its fat for energy.

As a process, these kinds of diets have been in and out of fashion since the Banting diet appeared in the 19th century. But long before modern scientific invention, anecdotal and holistic prescriptions, containing passages about limiting certain foods, including foods of mostly carbohydrates, have appeared throughout history. Although strong evidence suggests, and general agreement claims, that low carb diets can help achieve weight loss, some have been controversial among nutritionists, and their relative safety has been challenged.

Differences between low-carbohydrate diets

Low-carb diets are largely distinguished by the proportions of carb intake they recommend, and the method or methods used to determinine which source or sources of carbohydrates should be consumed and which should be avoided. While all agree that processed sugar should be eliminated, or at the very least greatly reduced, they often differ on the recommended levels of grains, fruits and vegetables, though there is broad agreement that, in general, vegetables are better than fruits, and fruits are better than grains.

The recent rise in western obesity rates has coincided with a widespread belief in low-fat, high-carbohydrate as a healthy way of eating. By contrast traditional, high-fat French cooking has led to a much lower incidence of obesity, morbid obesity and chronic heart disease than the high-sugar American diet, despite overall energy intake and exercise levels being the same.

Side effects

Critics contend that low carbohydrate diets are not without harmful side effects. Very low carbohydrate consumption can lead to the metabolic state called ketosis, which may cause headaches, tiredness, nausea, dehydration, dizziness, and an unusual sweet-smelling breath odor. The lowered intake of dietary fiber that often accompanies dramatically reduced carbohydrate intake can result in constipation if not supplemented. For example, this has been a criticism of the Induction stage of the Atkins diet (note that today the Atkins diet is more clear about recommending a fiber supplement during Induction).

These are just a few small samples in both positions regarding low carb diets. Be sure to continue your research to make an informed decision.


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