In the last twenty years, there has been a sharp increase in the prevalence of low-carb diets. People are seeking to cut down on their carbohydrates while simultaneously increasing the amount of fat, protein, and vegetables they eat as a means to combat obesity, inflammation, and chronic medical conditions. Do some low-carb diets stand out above the rest?
It is a fact that not every low-carb diet is equivalent. In this article, the distinctions among five well known low-carb regimens are examined, the plusses of each are suggested, and an individual’s method of deciding which one is suitable is explained.
What Is Considered a Low-Carb Diet?
A low-carb plan focuses on bettering general wellbeing as well as losing weight by decreasing the number of carbohydrates found in processed products, and instead eating more fats and food sources abundant in protein. A diet with lower levels of carbohydrates may focus on meals that have a greater concentration of either fat (as is the case with the ketogenic diet) or protein (similar to the South Beach diet), and the number of carbs needed may alter.
Low-carb diets can be divided into three types:
- Liberal: 100–150 grams of carbs per day. Liberal carb consumption is best for weight maintenance, people who exercise regularly or are sensitive to carb restriction. The Eco-Atkins and Zone Diet are good examples of liberal low-carb diets.
- Moderate: 50–100 grams of carbohydrates per day. Moderate carb consumption helps people lose weight at a gradual rate while controlling blood glucose levels. The Atkins 40 diet is a prime example.
- Strict: 0–50 grams of carbs per day. Strict carb consumption is ideal for people who want to lose weight quickly and enter ketosis to use ketones as energy instead of glucose. The ketogenic and Atkins 20 diets are good examples.
5 Risks of Eating Too Many Carbs
The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose which is then used as the primary energy source for cells. When you consume a banana or a sandwich, the glucose from the carbohydrates are taken up into your bloodstream.
Next, your pancreas produces insulin. Insulin regulates your carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Consuming an excessive amount of carbohydrates can interfere with the equilibrium of insulin and sugar, increasing the probability of a few enduring issues.
#1: Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
When the cells of your body fail to acknowledge insulin, it’s called insulin resistance. In this state, the cells are unable to efficiently draw in the sugar that insulin is trying to carry into the bloodstream. To compensate for it, your pancreas produces increased levels of insulin. Over time, this results in an increase in both your glucose and insulin concentrations.
The development of insulin resistance can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and pre-diabetes. Insulin resistance is closely associated with obesity, yet one can have the condition without having an excess of body weight.
#2: Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
A susceptibility to insulin is a hazard for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disorder. Since insulin is responsible for controlling the breakdown of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, it triggers the production of fat.
When you consume carbohydrates, your liver puts away extra sugar as fat. Excessive fat production by the liver can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the most prevalent long-standing liver disorder among adults and youngsters in America.
#3: Weight Gain
Research demonstrates that when compared to low-fat regimens, low-carb eating plans tend to be more successful for shedding pounds. It is still true even when people do not watch the number of calories they eat while on a high-fat diet. It seems that a diet that is high in fat and low in carbs is a better way to burn fat, particularly reducing the fat around the abdomen area.
#4: Cardiovascular Disease
Eating a diet that is high in carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance, which has a negative impact on your cardiovascular health. A buildup of insulin resistance places you in considerable danger of various types of cardiovascular ailments, such as hypertension, congestive heart breakdown, cardiac arrest, and stroke.
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#5: Energy Crashes
Foods that are high on the glycemic index contain a greater amount of carbohydrates and are more prone to causing low energy levels. A research project revealed that people who had a meal high in glycemic index showed greater blood sugar and insulin concentrations, causing them to nod off much faster than those that ingested food low in glycemic index.
Health Benefits of a Low-Carb Diet
The following are four extraordinary advantages of adopting a low-carb diet.
#1: Rapid Weight Loss
Studies have revealed that fast weight reduction can be achieved through a low-carbohydrate diet, which is advisable for those with obesity or elevated cholesterol levels.
A diet that is low in carbohydrates can decrease hunger, reduce cravings and change food choices, resulting in natural weight reduction. Eating a strict low-carb diet with 20 or fewer grams of carbs per day has been shown to reduce cravings, increase satiety, and make you feel fuller, longer:
#2: Enhanced Exercise Performance
Having a diet low in carbohydrates for five to six days each week and then boosting the level of carbohydrates on one day to replenish glycogen stores has been proven to enhance athletic performance. Athletes who obsessively limited their carbohydrates relative to their other diet choices saw improvements in performance and burnt more fat without risking the reduction of their glycogen stores, which is important for muscle growth and functioning. These athletes saw an improvement in their stamina as well as their ability to burn fat.
#3: Improved Mental Clarity
The body produces ketones as a result of fat being used as an energy source. Fat can be advantageous for mental activity in ways that glucose cannot. When your body receives energy from fat-generated ketones as fuel, your cognitive abilities are enhanced because glutamate is present in low quantities in your brain. Too much of the neurotransmitter glutamate can lead to harm and destruction of neurons. Ketones effectively flush them out of your brain.
#4: Disease Prevention and Treatment
A diet low in carbohydrates can aid in stopping the development of, as well as helping to treat, numerous medical situations. Research has demonstrated that an eating pattern low in carbohydrates and high in fats, for instance the keto diet, decreases someone’s possibility of getting heart affliction, type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Research has demonstrated that it has a powerful effect on minimizing inflammation, and inflammation is known toresult in many illnesses.
What You Can Eat on a Low-Carb Diet
Here is a compilation of foods that can be consumed on the healthiest low-carbohydrate diet. Certain items are not allowed, but this list will serve as a general guideline. You will be eating beef, poultry, greens, legumes, and grains along with some dairy products.
- Red meat, including grass-fed beef, venison, pork, lamb, deer, organ meats, and bone broth
- Poultry, including chicken, turkey, duck, and eggs
- Seafood, including salmon, halibut, cod, trout, sardines, shrimp, and flounder
- Dairy, including soft and hard cheeses, butter, milk, yogurt, kefir, and sour cream
- Fats and oils, including coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil
- Nuts and seeds, including almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds
- Non-starchy veggies, including broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, zucchini, and bell peppers
- Low-sugar fruits including blueberries, lemons, limes, and raspberries
- Herbs, spices, and zero-sugar sweeteners
From the beginning, be aware that most of the trendy low-carb diets lack scientific proof. This means that much of what is claimed as beneficial has not been confirmed, and could be based solely on testimonies of certain individuals. With those limitations in mind, here’s a look at 12 popular low-carb plans and how they work:
1. A Basic Low-Carb Diet
According to Schmidt, there is not a specific set of rules that determines what a low-carbohydrate diet would be. Generally, it is thought that a basic low-carb diet consists of consuming between 50 and 100 grams of carbohydrates per day. In other words, it’s all about having a lower carb intake than you would normally have. The benefit of this scheme is that it is tailored to each person, thus enabling you to consume the amount of food that is right for your body. You have the freedom to decide which carbohydrates to have in your diet (fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds), rather than having to follow a strict plan which tells you exactly what to eat and when. Someone who enjoys having autonomy and does not want to invest the effort in calculating the carbohydrates of their food is the best fit for this.
There may be benefits to following this traditional plan. In a study published in June 2019 in the publication JCI Insight, a cohort of overweight individuals who exhibited symptoms of metabolic syndrome (a combination of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and too much fat around the tummy, which escalate the possibility of coming down with coronary illness and type 2 diabetes, as per the Mayo Clinic’s explanation) were subjected to varying levels of carbohydrate intake for four weeks. Those in the low-carb group experienced a fall in their triglyceride levels, an increase in their “good” HDL cholesterol, and marked improvement in their “bad” LDL cholesterol, regardless of their weight loss.
2. The Ketogenic, or ‘Keto’ Diet
This diet strategy is one of the most rigorous ones for those following a low-carb diet. This regime requires eating foods that add up to no more than 50 g of carbohydrates per day; however, some specialists suggest going under 30 or even 20 g, according to Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDCES, a dietician that specializes in low-carb diets located in Hollywood, Florida. She states that the majority of people ought to remain within 30 grams of carbs, but individuals who are active can go slightly over that. Furthermore, you will be eating a considerable quantity of fat – a maximum of 80 percent of your diet.
Switching to a keto diet changes your body’s energy source from carbohydrates to burning fat. One of the main attractions of this is that you can shed a considerable amount of weight in no time, and it can be fairly enthralling to observe those outcomes come about so swiftly. The con to this diet plan is that it is quite restrictive – you are primarily consuming fat sources, a little bit of protein, and some non-starchy vegetables. This makes it rather challenging to maintain and is usually meant to be a temporary diet, instead of a permanent change.
3. A Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet
This is reminiscent of the ketogenic diet; however, this program encourages the consumption of more carbohydrates so that the body is not in the fat-burning mode as found in keto and entails eating less fat. Approximately one quarter of your calories come from carbohydrates, whereas more than 60 percent are composed of dietary fat. The researchers of a June 2018 article published in the European Journal of Nutrition declared that it is much easier to stick with a keto diet when one allows for a liberal carb intake of about 100 to 150 grams per day. The authors accepted that consuming a low-carb, high-fat diet is effective for weight loss. Nevertheless, the effects it has on health in the long run remain unverified and need further investigation.
A large number of people follow a low-carb diet with the aim of having improved results during physical activity. Supporters believe that it can train the body to burn fat for energy, giving continuous energy throughout endurance activities. It is yet to be known whether the specified diet actually improves performance, as proposed by a report issued in November 2015 by Sports Medicine. If you are an athlete who is looking into this type of nutrition, it is advisable to chat with a nutritionist who focuses on sports nutrition to find out what is the best option for you. “HOW Keto Diet Could Affect Your Exercise Routine”
4. The Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet provided the initial impetus for the surge in popular interest in low-carbohydrate eating. Spritzler noted that Dr. Atkins discovered early on that restricting carbohydrates and incorporating unrestricted amounts of protein and fat made a huge difference on hunger and insulin levels.
This plan begins with a low-carb, keto-like diet and then slowly introduces carb sources such as vegetables and fruit. Spritzler warns of a misjudgement when people eat more carbohydrate-containing foods, resulting in an increase in weight, then believing that the diet isn’t functioning correctly. For example, while fixing things, you probably ought not to be consuming bread.
Spritzler recommends that if one is doing a low-carb diet, it is best to focus on eating whole foods rather than relying on pre-packaged snacks and meals, even if they are marketed as being low-carb. When compared to other diets, this one might be the most successful, particularly in the near future. In September 2014, a meta-analysis of 59 trials on different diets was published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association; it showed that individuals who follow the Atkins diet shed an average of 22 pounds over the course of six months.
5. Modified Atkins, Modified Keto Diet
This dietary plan necessitates consuming 10 percent of one’s daily caloric intake from carbs, 30 percent from proteins, and 60 percent from fat. Studies are being conducted to determine if this diet can be beneficial in treating epilepsy, but some individuals are looking towards the ‘moderate’ version of it for slimming down. “Keto means that you’re in ketosis. For many individuals, limiting their carb intake to 10 percent would not enable them to be in a metabolic condition, and this approach is more similar to a low-carb diet. Ginger Hultin, a member of the Academy of Nutrition and owner of ChampagneNutrition based in Seattle, remarks that it will be beneficial for certain individuals. Your aim of achieving ketosis should be undertaken with assistance from a professional dietitian to guarantee that you are consuming the proper ratio of macronutrients (sugars, protein, and fat) to reach that state, or by keeping track of your blood ketone amounts.
The Best Low-Carb Diet Is the One That Works Best for You
You may now be curious to find out which of the most well-known low carbohydrate diets would be the best choice for you.
The most suitable low-carb diet for you is the one that fits into your daily routine. Pick a diet regimen that has scientific evidence of being effective for weight loss and is easy to maintain in the long term without feeling overly limiting.