Low Carb Diets are meal plans that are low in carbohydrate content, moderate in proteins and fat contents. Usually, such meals have reduced carbohydrate content like sugar, grains, tubers, starchy vegetables, and fruits.
For fitness enthusiasts like myself, you could be curious if low card diets are the way to go. Researches have shown that low carb diets are linked to weight loss, reduced appetite, low blood sugar level, improved brain performance, reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Low Carb Diet, Fact or Myth?
There are a lot of misconceptions about low carb diets which can be traced back to the 1950s. Let us examine some concepts about low-carb diets.
Low-carb Diets Are Good For Heart health – Truth
What if I told you that your heart would be head over heels in love with you if you reduce your carb intake?
In the 1950s, more people suffered from heart diseases in the US. Researches were conducted to find the cause of the increase in heart attacks. Do you know the criminal behind all this cardiac menace? The result of the research showed that people suffering from heart-related issues had high cholesterol levels.
However, these studies erroneously labeled dietary fat as the culprit behind the high cholesterol levels responsible for heart attacks. This erroneous theory led to the development of low-fat guidelines. Well, we couldn’t keep loitering forever in such laughable misinformation.
Researches were conducted much later, which showed that linking dietary fat to heart attacks was an association, not a cause-effect relationship!
As at the time these researches were conducted, smoking was a well-accepted social vice and sugar consumption was on the increase, which led to insulin resistance in the body as a result of sugar intolerance. Such a scenario resulted in the conversion and storage of glucose as fats in the body.
Hence, it is now believed that sugar, not dietary fat as earlier claimed was a major driving force of high heart attacks as experienced in the US in the 1950s.
Low Carb Diets Are Poor In Nutrient Supply – False
I could tell you many lies, but none would be as blatant as telling you that low card diets are not nutritious.
It was previously believed that low carb diets are poor in nutrient supply. These illusions led people into excluding vegetable contents from their low carb diet while focusing on boosting the fat content of their diet.
This was a misconceived move because vegetables (non-starchy) are rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals, and micronutrients.
For diabetic people, it is advisable to consume meals with low carb, high vegetable content to get the daily recommended amount of vitamins and minerals.
Low Carb Diets Are Not Restrictive – Truth
It is falsely claimed that low carb diets are unrealistic ways of eating because they restrict some groups of food which automatically increases the cravings for such food causing people to do away with their diets and regain lost weights.
The goal of a low carb diet is to suppress the intake of foods that can raise blood sugar levels like rice, bread, fizzy drinks, potatoes, and sugary snacks. While focusing on unsaturated fat sources, some types of legumes and protein sources like egg, fish, and meat are quite filling and make people a lot less hungry.
Cutting down on carb-rich foods lowers the blood sugar level of the blood. This causes the insulin level of the blood to drop, therefore causing the body to switch over to fat as the source of fuel. This may result in weight loss, reduced food intake, and an increased feeling of satiation.
From researches conducted, it has been proven that low carb diets are effective in controlling cravings, which is the major reason for people abandoning their dietary plans. Therefore, there is no scientific evidence that claims that low carb diets are restrictive.
You Can Consume As Much Fat As You Want – Truth
With a low carb diet, you can consume as much fat as you want without worrying about calorific value. This can help you to eat more naturally.
However, people on a low carb diet struggling to lose weight can be as a result of consuming way too much-saturated fat or protein content. Some foods like cheese and nuts are rich in fat and protein contents.
Low Carb Diets Are Fad Diets – False
Now, let me tell you something about fad diets. The first Atkins book published in the ’70s showed that low carb diets are not fad diets, but are diets that are very effective for weight loss.
Further back in history, William Banting published the first book on a low carb diet in 1863. The book gained much popularity as at that time. Also, more than 20 scientific findings proved the effectiveness of low carb diets, therefore dismissing the idea that low carb diets are fad diets.
Most Weight Gain Comes From Water – True
When glucose molecules are converted to glycogen for storage in the liver and muscles, the glycogen molecules are bound together by water molecules. When the body’s glucose levels drop, glycogen is converted to glucose, this leads to a tremendous loss of water, resulting in the reduction of water weight which hitherto is the cause of over bloating. Also, cutting down on high carb diets leads to a drastic drop of insulin level in the blood. This makes the kidney to excrete excess sodium and water. Excess sodium loss can be replenished by sodium intake in meals.
Studies show that low carb diet plays a role in the reduction of fats in the liver and abdominal regions and responsible for gaining muscle mass.
Ketosis Is Not Good For The Body – False
Consuming less than 50 grams of carbohydrate per day results in a reduced level of insulin in the blood. This leads to the release of fat from the fat cells which are converted to fatty acids. The liver converts the fatty acids to ketones, which serve as an alternative energy source for the brain and the rest of the body.
The process of breaking down ketones to yield energy in the body is known as ketosis. This process has been proven to be effective in combating conditions like epilepsy and further studies on the use of ketosis to combat cancer and brain diseases like ‘Alzheimer’s ‘Huntington’s, Lou ‘Gehrig’s diseases, etc.
Your Brain Can Function Well On A Low Carb Diet – True
It is often claimed that the body needs about 130g of glucose daily to function well. This is true; the glucose source does not have to come from carb diets. For the glucose requirement of the brain to be met on a low carb diet, the body converts Amino acids or fatty acids to glucose (depending on the most readily available source).
This process is known as gluconeogenesis. It should be noted that it is only a part of the brain that requires glucose for proper functioning. The rest of the brain can function well using ketones as an energy source.
There are reports low carb diets improve brain functioning once the body has overcome the initial adaptation phase.
Low Carb Diet Improves Performance In Physical Activities – True
Cutting down on carb intake at first can reduce performance in physical activities because the body is trying to adjust to using fat as a source of fuel. However, there is a boost in physical performance once the body is well adapted to using fat as an energy source for its activities.
It can take up to 3 weeks for the body to be well adapted to a low carb diet. Studies have shown that low carb diets favour physical activities and also boosts muscle mass and strength.
Food to Eat When You Are on a Low Carb Diet
- Vegetables: if you are confused about the type of vegetables to eat, a simple rule can be used to determine the type of vegetables you can eat. Eat above-ground vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, tomato, avocado, spinach, lettuce, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, Brussels sprout, broccoli, kale, green, red and yellow pepper. Below ground vegetables like carrot, onion, beetroot, rutabaga, celeriac, potato, sweet potato, parsnip, etc. should be avoided because of their high carb content.
- Fish and seafood like lobster, crabs, crayfish, etc.
- Natural fats like butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.
Foods to Avoid on a Low Carb Diet
- Fruits like Banana
- Chocolate bars
- Rice and other grainy foods.
- Sweeteners in foods
Peas, beans, lentils, quinoa, and corn contain a relatively high amount of carbohydrates. They are not advisable for a low carb diet. However, these foods can be included in a moderate carb diet.
What to Drink on a Low Carb Diet
- Water is the best liquid to consume on a low carb diet. Coffee or tea with a little amount of milk without sweeteners is good.
- A glass of wine occasionally is good too.
- Spirits like vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, etc. do not contain carbs.
What to Avoid Drinking on a Low Carb Diet
Beer: consuming beer leads to an increase in abdominal fats. It is not a good option for weight loss or diabetes reversal.
The bottom Line
Low-carb diets can be a good choice for people who want to lose weight, or have metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. If you are in good shape, and you just want to go for a healthy lifestyle, low-carb diets also fit well. However, there are many healthy diet plans out there, why not try some of them, and see which fits your time and lifestyle better?
- https://draxe.com/diets/low-carb-diet/ – Low carb diet: A ‘beginner’s guide
- https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb – A low carb diet for beginners
- https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin-resistance.html – Insulin resistance
- https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/low-carb-diet-fat-fiction/ – Fact or fiction?
- https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/low-carbohydrate-diets/ -The nutrition source
- https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diet/low-carb-diet-myths.html – Low carb diet myths
- https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-myths-about-low-carb-diets – 9 myths about low carb diets