It seems that lately low carb diets have been the hottest trend in weight loss. If you are considering a low-carb diet, you may be wondering exactly what it consists of. There are several different versions of the low-carb diet to choose from. Some of the low-carb diets can be very strict and harder to follow, while some others allow you room to enjoy some favorite foods without feeling guilty and like you have failed your diet completely. The key to sticking to a diet is finding one that you feel you can actually maintain. Although all diets require you to make adjustments to your everyday eating habits, some can seem more like a chore than others. If you are thinking of trying out a low-carb diet, it is important to choose one that fits your lifestyle.
The purpose behind a low-carb diet is either to eliminate carbohydrates from the diet or lessen the amount of carbohydrates that are consumed. Carbohydrates are foods such as grains, breads, rice, starchy vegetables and fruits. Each type of low-carb diet has different ways of eliminating carbs from the diet. Some diets believe that you must eliminate certain carbs while others are still considered safe to eat. Depending on the diet you choose will determine which foods you are able to eat.
Low-carb diets focus on lessening carbs but increasing the amount of proteins and healthy fats in order to lose weight. The reason the diet eliminates carbs is because carbs are responsible for raising blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar level is high it causes insulin to be released. Insulin can then force blood sugar into the body’s cells and keeps the cells from being able to breakdown fat. When carbs are eliminated from the diet, the sugar levels are never too high. Therefore the blood sugar levels remain constant and the cells are able to burn fat the way they should be.
There are some ways to help the body achieve weight loss by just changing a few of the things you eat and instead of eliminating all carbs you can just make a few modifications and still see results. One major rule of thumb is to avoid foods that are made of refined grains. These foods are considered the “white food group”. Foods such as regular pasta, white breads, and white rice are all examples of foods that are made from white flour and other ingredients that are not so healthy. By switching your carbs over to whole-grain pastas and breads, brown rice and healthy cereals, you can still eat some of your favorite foods without feeling guilty. The body burns whole grains much quicker and they also offer much nutrition that your body craves. If you look at the food pyramid you will see that we are supposed to eat a certain amount of these foods daily in order to maintain a healthy, well balanced nutrition plan. By eliminating all carbs you are essentially robbing your body of some important vitamins and nutrients. And since low-carb diets also discourage you to eat potatoes and certain fruits and vegetables, they can allow for you to miss out on other vital nutrients as well.
Although low-carb diets are popular, they may not be the best diet plan to follow. Depending on your diet needs and your physician’s recommendations you should try to find a well rounded diet that restricts fats, sugars and unhealthy food options rather than cutting out an entire food group. The main problem with sticking to a low-carb diet is that once you start you have to maintain the same diet or else once you start adding the carbs back into your diet, you will notice the pounds creeping back on. By eating a few healthy choices from each food group, maintaining a healthy caloric and fat intake, and cutting back on junk food, you may see the same type of results without having to give up any of your favorite dishes.
Jackie Hogan, MS, RD is a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles. She is a member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND-LAD) and the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Practice Group and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jackie has been featured on Women’s Health, Fitness Magazine, Women’s Fitness, and Men’s Fitness magazine.