Could a low-carb diet give you an edge in losing weight? Help you keep weight off permanently? Here’s what you need to know about the low-carb diet.
What Exactly is Low-Carb Diet?
A low-carb diet limits carbohydrates — such as those found in grains, starchy vegetables and fruit — and emphasizes foods high in protein and fat. Many types of low-carb diets exist. Each diet has varying restrictions on the types and amounts of carbohydrates you can eat.
Why do People go for Low-Carb Diet?
A low-carb diet is generally used for losing weight. Some low-carb diets may have health benefits beyond weight loss, such as reducing risk factors associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Should you Follow a Low-Carb Diet?
You might choose to follow a low-carb diet because you:
- Want a diet that restricts certain carbs to help you lose weight
- Want to change your overall eating habits
- Enjoy the types and amounts of foods featured in low-carb diets
Check with your doctor or health care provider before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have any health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
What does Low-Carb Diet Contain?
As the name says, a low-carb diet restricts the type and amount of carbohydrates you eat. Carbohydrates are a type of calorie-providing macro-nutrient found in many foods and beverages.
Many carbohydrates occur naturally in plant-based foods, such as grains. In natural form, carbohydrates can be thought of as complex and fibrous such as the carbohydrates found in whole grains and legumes, or they can be less complex such as those found in milk and fruit. Common sources of naturally occurring carbohydrates include:
- Legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
Food manufacturers also add refined carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of flour or sugar. These are generally known as simple carbohydrates. Examples of foods that contain simple carbohydrates are white breads and pasta, cookies, cake, candy, and sugar-sweetened sodas and drinks.
Your body uses carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Sugars and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. They’re then absorbed into your bloodstream, where they’re known as blood sugar (glucose). Fiber-containing carbohydrates resist digestion, and although they have less effect on blood sugar, complex carbohydrates provide bulk and serve other body functions beyond fuel.
Rising levels of blood sugar trigger the body to release insulin. Insulin helps glucose enter your body’s cells. Some glucose is used by your body for energy, fuelling all of your activities, whether it’s going for a jog or simply breathing. Extra glucose is usually stored in your liver, muscles and other cells for later use or is converted to fat.
Does Low-Carb Diet Really helps?
Most people can lose weight on diet plans that restrict calories and what you can eat — at least in the short term. And low-carb diets, especially very low-carb diets, may lead to greater short-term weight loss than low-fat diets.
But most studies have found that at 12 or 24 months, the benefits of a low-carb diet are not very large. A 2014 review found that higher protein, low-carbohydrate diets may offer a slight advantage in terms of weight loss and loss of fat mass compared to a normal protein diet. At a year, the difference was only about a pound (about 0.4 kilograms), though, and those who had the greatest benefits stuck to the diet long term.
Cutting calories and carbs may not be the only reason for the weight loss. Some studies show that you may shed some weight because you eat less on low-carb diets because the extra protein and fat keep you feeling full longer.