With the popularity of the Atkin’s diet, low-carb diets have been a favorite of dieters for the past few years. There are many variations when it comes to low carb diets and finding the best version you can be challenge.
Why is a Low Carb Diet Effective?
To answer that question, you have to first understand what “carbs” are. Carbohydrates (the real name for carbs) are sugars, fibers, and starches that come from milk, fruits, veggies, and grains. It is one of the three macronutrients (along with protein and fats), and one of the most important nutrients for your body.
Carbs provide your body with energy it can use quickly. This is good in most cases; however, if the food is TOO high in carbs, it can cause a spike in your blood sugar level. This in turn causes your body to produce more insulin to control blood sugar. Insulin increases fat storage, turning sugar into stored fat. The more insulin your body produces, the more fat you are likely to store.
The point of a low-carb diet is to limit the amount of carbs you consume. This will help to reduce blood sugar spikes, thereby preventing an increase of insulin. By keeping blood sugar and insulin levels under control, you make it easier for your body to activate and burn stored fat.
Low-carb diets have been proven to be highly effective for weight loss and fat management, even more so than low-fat diets. Some of the benefits of a low-carb diet include:
- Suppressing your appetite. Fat is much harder for your body to break down and absorb than carbs. A high-fat diet will force your body to work harder to turn food into energy, and will slow down digestion. The longer your stomach is full, the less hungry you feel.
- More belly fat loss. Did you know that most of the fat around your guts comes from carbs turned into stored fat? By reducing carbs, you encourage your body to activate those fat stores every time you work out.
- HDL cholesterol rises. HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol responsible for controlling the “bad” LDL cholesterol. On a low-carb diet, your HDL cholesterol rises, making it easier for your body to manage bad cholesterol on its own.
- Blood sugar control improves. Not only does a low-carb diet lead to less insulin production, but it can also promote insulin sensitivity (meaning it takes less insulin to have a greater effect).
As you can see, a low-carb diet has many benefits beyond simple weight loss. As you cut carbs and eat mostly low-carb foods, you’ll feel much better, drop weight, and improve your overall health.
What does “low carb” really mean?
- Almost all food will contain carbohydrates along with proteins and fats.
- Foods that are considered high in carbs have 50-70% carbohydrates.
- Foods that are considered moderate in carbs have 40-50%.
- Foods that are considered low in carbs have 0-25%.
Veggies and proteins are two low-carb foods. Fruits tend to have a higher carb content thanks to the natural sugar, as does milk (lactose). Nuts and seeds are usually fairly low-carb, though there are a few exceptions.
We’ve put together some low carb diet tips if you are looking to try a diet low in carbohydrates. We’ve also put together a great list of various low carb diets so you can find the one that suits you best.
- The Super Atkins Diet: a diet that consists of five phases and focuses on counting calories and healthy, wholesome eating.
- Anabolic Diet: the weightlifters choice, which alternates between low and high carb intake.
- The Hampton’s Diet: A diet that focuses on very healthy, nutritional food.
- The Ketogenic Diet: A diet that is low in carbs and rich in protein and fats.
If you’re thinking about trying any of these low carb diets make sure to consult with a nutritionist first.