Low-carb diets are a popular way to lose weight and manage chronic conditions. These diets focus on limiting carbohydrates, including grains, fruits and vegetables.
They can be helpful for people with diabetes who want to improve their blood sugar and insulin levels. However, it’s important to consult with a medical professional before starting a low carb diet.
Definition of Low-Carb Diet
A low-carb diet is a weight loss program that restricts the amount of carbohydrate foods you eat. These types of diets generally limit grains, legumes, fruits, breads, sweets and pastas.
These diets can help you lose weight by reducing your daily carbohydrate intake, which is the main energy source for your body. A low-carb diet may also help you improve your triglyceride and lipid levels.
Many people have also reported improvements in their mood, satiety and energy levels after a low-carb diet. However, it is important to remember that low-carb diets can also be unhealthy if you don’t make sure you are getting enough nutrients.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your brain, so limiting them can cause fatigue and brain fog. They also contribute to oxidative stress, which can promote the growth of cancer cells.
A low-carb diet is one of many popular diets followed by celebrities and regular people who want to shed weight.
Purpose of Low-Carb Diet
Low-carb diets can have a variety of benefits for people with obesity, diabetes, or metabolic disorders. They can help patients achieve their weight loss goals, improve blood glucose control, and improve lipid levels.
Those who are considering adopting a low-carb diet should speak with their health care provider about the right foods to eat and the type of diet that may be best for them. Typically, a low-carb diet includes less than 50 grams (g) of carbohydrates per day.
Many people choose to follow a lower-carb diet when they want to lose weight or manage their diabetes. The diet limits sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed foods, replacing them with healthy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
However, a low-carb diet does not guarantee you’ll get all the nutrients your body needs. It is important to eat a variety of foods to ensure you are getting the proper vitamins, minerals and fiber.
A good way to keep your low-carb diet balanced is to include a lot of protein. Lean meats like turkey, beef and skinless chicken breast are all good options. Pair them with roasted veggies and side salads for a meal that will help you stay on track.
Types of Foods to Eat
There are many foods that can be eaten on a low-carb diet, but some can be avoided altogether. These include bread, pasta, potatoes and other starchy vegetables; grains such as rice and corn; beans and lentils; milk; sugar; and sweets such as cookies, candy and ice cream.
Some high-carb fruits are also acceptable to consume on a low-carb diet, as long as you limit your intake to no more than three servings per day. Fruits with a high sugar content, such as bananas, grapes and apples, should be consumed in moderation as they can increase your blood sugar levels.
Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are good sources of immune-boosting vitamin C, calcium (important for bone health) and potassium. They also lower inflammation and protect against cardiovascular disease, says London.
Cauliflower is a great source of vitamins A, B, C, E and K, as well as minerals including magnesium, iron and zinc. It’s also a good source of fiber, which supports gut health and helps control weight.
Cheese is another food that can be included on a low-carb diet, though you should limit yourself to one or two servings a week. It’s also a great source of protein and can help lower inflammation, says Cassetty.
Types of Foods to Avoid
Low-carb diets are popular with many people who want to lose weight or maintain their current weight. However, some people should avoid these types of diets because they may experience problems with their metabolism and insulin response.
To avoid these issues, you should eat nutrient-dense foods and limit your intake of processed food, sugar and starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, pasta and rice. This will help to improve your metabolic health and reduce the risk of developing diabetes or prediabetes, Cucuzzella says.
You should also make sure that you are eating a variety of healthy fats and proteins, says Evans. This will help to reduce inflammation, lower your cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease.
You can add small amounts of these foods to your daily dietary plan, especially if you are on a low carb diet. But be aware that beans and legumes can have a negative impact on your blood glucose levels so you should choose them carefully depending on your personal tolerance level and the amount of carbs you are allowed to eat each day.
Who Should Not Follow a Low-Carb Diet
Low-carb diets can be a helpful weight loss tool, especially for those who have struggled to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. However, some people may not benefit from these diets.
The main goal of a low-carb diet is to limit your intake of foods high in carbohydrates, including sweets and starchy vegetables like potatoes, bread, and pasta. Often, this is done to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels.
But cutting back on carbs can cause other health problems, including fatigue and a lack of energy. For this reason, people who have chronic health issues such as diabetes should speak with their doctor before they start a low-carb diet.
Additionally, people with a history of eating disordered behaviors such as compulsive overeating and bingeing should also avoid low-carb diets. These disordered behaviors can be extremely triggering, and they could lead to health complications if left untreated.
If you’re overweight and want to lose weight, low-carb diets can help you achieve your goal. Research shows that they are also beneficial for people with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
A healthy low-carb diet can improve blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase HDL cholesterol. In addition, some studies have shown that low-carb diets can reduce symptoms of depression and improve self-esteem.
Another potential benefit of a low-carb diet is improved energy. This can result in increased physical activity and a reduced need for medications to manage diabetes or high blood sugar levels.
However, a low-carb diet can cause nutrient deficiencies. In particular, experts say you’ll likely have trouble getting enough folic acid and calcium.
Eating a variety of foods is important when following a low-carb diet. Whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and seafood are all good choices. You should also drink plenty of water and avoid sugary beverages when possible.
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for most people, and they play a key role in supporting the body’s many vital functions. This includes regulating blood sugar, insulin metabolism and assisting in triglyceride and cholesterol metabolism.
Generally, dietary guidelines recommend that individuals fill about 45-65% of their diet with carbohydrates. This includes a variety of foods, such as whole grains, fruit, and vegetables.
When it comes to low-carb diets, however, the exact amount of carbohydrate grams that a person should consume depends on their health goals and their daily activity level. Most low-carb diets limit carbohydrate intake to fewer than 130 grams per day on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet.
There is no right or wrong way to follow a low-carb diet, but it is important to eat a variety of healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Some examples of quality low-carb foods include non-starchy vegetables (like broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower and green beans), lean meats, legumes and small amounts of fruits.
Low-Carb Diet & Cholesterol
The low-carb diet has been associated with concerns about its impact on lipids, specifically LDL cholesterol. However, recent systematic reviews show that low-carb diets may have a neutral to small increase in LDL, but also a reduction in triglycerides and an increase in HDL cholesterol. There is evidence that some lean individuals may have a hyper-response to low-carb diets and higher LDL levels, known as lean mass hyper-responders. Due to the individualized response to low-carb diets, it’s recommended to have a baseline fasting lipid profile, periodic testing, and to make decisions about the diet in collaboration with a healthcare professional. (National Library of Medicine)
Effects on Mortality
Studies have linked low-carb diets to increased mortality, with some showing that a carbohydrate intake less than 40% may be linked to a higher risk of death. However, the PURE study, which involved over 135,000 participants worldwide, found that a higher fat intake was associated with lower mortality and higher carbohydrate intake was linked to increased mortality. Another study found that both healthy low-carb and low-fat diets were linked to lower mortality, but unhealthy versions of both diets were associated with higher mortality, indicating that the quality of food is important, not just the macronutrient itself. The long-term effects of these diets are still unclear and more research is needed. (National Library of Medicine)