What is a Low-Carb Diet and Is it Right For Me?

Why do we have such a love-hate relationship with carbs, and how can we use them to our advantage?  Carbs. They fill us up. They taste so good. The...

Why do we have such a love-hate relationship with carbs, and how can we use them to our advantage? 

Carbs. They fill us up. They taste so good. They spike our blood sugar. 

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the low-carb eating philosophy. But low-carb diets have been around for a long time and are still popular today. From Atkins to Keto, low-carb eating can help us:

    • manage our blood sugar 
    • lose weight
    • decrease the risk of heart disease

So how can someone develop a healthy relationship with carbohydrates, and still keep their blood sugar in balance? Let’s unpack the world of low-carb eating to see if it’s a good fit for you.

What is a low-carb diet?

Eating carbs can fill us up quickly, even give us a little boost of feeling satisfied. But the sad truth is carbs tend to be lacking in the nutrients that, long-term, keep us healthy and happy. They may fill you up, but with a lot of nothing. 

Enter the low-carb diet.

A low-carb diet doesn’t eliminate carbs from your diet entirely, it just invites you to make smart food choices about the quality of carbs you’re eating and how much. It also emphasizes replacing carbs with nutrient-dense foods that will not only leave you feeling satisfied, but will make your cells sing. 

The added bonus is when fewer carbohydrates are available in your body, it’s forced to use its fat reserves as an energy source. This means you’ll also lose weight!

Potential benefits of a low carbohydrate diet

Low-carb diets promote weight loss and better health indicators. Reducing carbohydrate intake generally lowers your glucose levels, which can benefit your A1C, or two- to three-month average blood glucose levels. A big benefit for folks trying to manage their blood sugar!

“A daily limit of 0.7 to 2 ounces (20 to 57 grams) of carbohydrates is typical with a low-carb diet. These amounts of carbohydrates provide 80 to 240 calories. Some low-carb diets greatly restrict carbs during the initial phase of the diet and then gradually increase the number of allowed carbs.” [1]

A low-carb diet restricts carbs, primarily found in bread, pasta, and sweet foods. You concentrate on eating veggies and nutritious foods high in protein instead of carbohydrates.

Types of low-carb diets

You can create your low-carb diet by determining what works best for you, but you can also stick to well-known programs. Some of the well-known programs are listed below.

Atkins

The Atkins diet consists of four phases that begin with very low carbohydrate consumption and gradually increase your intake of items high in carbohydrates. It's beneficial for those who like a more organized plan.

Keto

Keto is considered the hardest plan, allowing you to consume much more fat and fewer than 50g of carbohydrates daily. The bonus is you get to eat extra protein, which fills you up almost as quickly as carbs do. This diet is well-liked for losing weight.

Paleo

Lean protein, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are common components of a Paleo diet. These foods were once available through hunting and gathering. Foods that were cultivated after 10,000BCE are restricted on the Paleo diet. This means dairy, legumes, and grains are not on your shopping list if you’re eating Paleo.

South Beach

Compared to a regular diet, the South Beach Diet has fewer carbohydrates, but not as few as a strict low-carb regimen. Approximately 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories come from carbs while following a regular eating plan. The equivalent is around 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Carb-Cycling

Switching back and forth from high-carb days and low-carb days is known as carb cycling. Even "no-carb" days could happen. You often consume more carbohydrates when you want to engage in vigorous exercise. 

You might consume 2 to 2.5 grams of carbohydrates for every pound of your body mass on those days since your body requires additional fuel.

Tips for a Low-Carb Diet

With any new diet, it might be challenging to stay on track. Here are some suggestions to help you stick to a low-carb diet.

Be adaptable. Transitioning to the Ketogenic state takes three to five weeks, and you probably won't feel amazing during this period. As you give your body longer to adapt, this new eating strategy can be challenging. Your hunger will decline as soon as you get acclimated to eating fewer carbohydrates.

Pick healthy foods. Consider nutrient-dense leafy greens, premium proteins, and adequate amounts of electrolytes and fluids. When possible, consume more unsaturated fat from vegetables, nuts, and seeds and less saturated fat from animal sources.

Watch what you eat. Use an app to keep during the first two weeks of a new diet.

Do light exercise. Light-intensity movement, such as leisurely strolling or casual bicycling, can lower your risk of chronic diseases and help balance your blood sugar.

Think about a supplement. If you follow a low-carb diet, you can skip out on fiber and several minerals. Discuss adding a supplement containing multivitamin or fiber to your regular regimen with your healthcare physician. Try a natural supplement like CuraLin to support energy, metabolism, and more.

It’s all about adaptation

Find a diet that works for you and experiment with it. Pick a diet based on your needs, metabolism, preferences, or circumstances. Educate yourself about what’s in the foods you're eating, as much as what to eat and when. Ingredient lists are your friend!

And remember, before making any major dietary changes, consult your doctor and educate yourself about the diet you are testing. Sometimes you have to experiment to lose weight. 

If you're considering a low-carb diet, it's crucial to speak with a professional to ensure that it's right for you, that you're eating a good, balanced diet, and that you're finding substitutes for fiber, energy, and vitamins that carbs offer.




References:

[1]https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831#:~:text=A%20daily%20limit%20of%200.7,the%20number%20of%20allowed%20carbs.