Low Carbohydrate Diet: The Basics For Diabetics
Low-carbohydrate diets or low-carb diets are dietary programs that restrict carbohydrate consumption usually for weight control or for the treatment of obesity. Foods high in digestible carbohydrates (e.g. bread, pasta) are limited or replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of proteins and fats (e.g. meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, tree nuts, and seeds) and other foods low in carbohydrates (e.g. most salad vegetables), although other vegetables and fruits (especially berries) are often allowed. The amount of carbohydrate allowed varies with different low-carbohydrate diets. These diets can be very successful and have certainly helped a lot of people to lose weight.
The most drastic way to reduce caloric intake is to stop eating completely. After a few days, body fats and proteins are metabolized to produce energy. The fats are broken down into fatty acids that can be used as fuel. In the absence of adequate carbohydrate, the fatty acids may be incompletely metabolized, yielding ketone bodies and thus ketosis. Prolonged fasting is unsafe, because it causes the body to begin to digest proteins from its muscles, heart, and other internal organs.
Low-carb dieting is a matter of choosing foods and strategies that put you on the path to success. Eating low-carb means knowing how to estimate portion sizes, choosing the right snack foods, and stocking your pantry with low-carb items.
What Foods Are Eaten On A Low Carbohydrate Diet?
Eating the low-carb way means building your diet around lean proteins along with vegetables and fruits prepared fairly simply. If you were a meat-and-potatoes eater, focus on the meat more than the carb-heavy potatoes. The tips in the following list offer advice on what foods to choose:
Build your meals around fruits, vegetables, and lean protein food sources.
Choose whole grains or legumes for your daily carb choices. Minimize your intake of processed foods.
Choose very low-fat milk and dairy foods.
Choose monounsaturated rather than saturated fats.
Eat three or four meals per day. Never starve yourself and never skip meals. If you eat between meals, eat healthy foods that are also filling, such as apples or oranges.
Do not eat a full meal right before bedtime. A bedtime snack such as nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit is okay.
Drink plenty of water — eight glasses a day
Exercise moderately 30 to 60 minutes at least five times a week.
Practice the 90-percent/10-percent rule: Follow this plan 90 percent of the time, and treat yourself to a favorite food 10 percent of the time.
Most low carb diets will start off with a 2 week induction phase where carbohydrates are cut down to around 20g net carbohydrate per day. Most foods contain some carbohydrate, so this means either counting carbs using an online diet journal or following rules about how much of each food group you can eat.
For example the induction phase of the Atkins diet allows unlimited meat, fish, eggs, butter and vegetable oils; 2 cups of salad veggies and 1 cup of other vegetables per day (excluding starchy vegetables); and a maximum 4 oz of cheese. Heavy cream is also allowed, but limited.
Milk, nuts, beans, fruit, alcohol, potatoes, bread, grains, pasta, corn etc are all banned during those first two weeks. Milk, nuts, beans and most fruit, plus some alcoholic drinks, are added back in limited quantities in phase 2. Whole grains and their products such as whole grain bread, along with corn and potatoes, are allowed when you are close to your goal weight.
Most low carb diets recommend that you never again eat large quantities of foods that contain refined flour and sugar. Even when you reach your goal weight, if you go back to old eating habits, you will gain weight again.
What Else Is In The Plan?
At the same time that you follow the eating plan, you must drink at least 8 x 12 oz glasses of water spread through the day, do a little exercise every day and take a good multi vitamin and mineral supplement. These points are just as important as the food rules, and they apply to all phases of the low carbohydrate diet.
Are There Any Risks?
There have still not been enough studies to be sure about risks. Low carb diets go against the 'received wisdom' that says that we should eat less fat to lose weight. On a low carbohydrate diet you can eat more fat, but still lose weight.
Opponents of the low carbohydrate diet point to research that shows that a higher intake of red meat and saturated fats can lead to increased risk of heart disease. You should speak to your medical adviser before starting a low carb diet plan, to check whether this might be a risk for you.
Supporters of the low carbohydrate diet refer to other studies which show cholesterol levels dropping on low carb diets. They point out that the people who were studied in that type of research were almost never on low carb diets. They were eating large amounts of red meat and saturated fats, plus large amounts of carbohydrates.
So it could be the combination of high fat and high carbohydrate that is unhealthy. This seems to make a lot of sense, and if it is true it would mean that a low carbohydrate diet can be healthy as well as being effective for weight loss.