The Real Story Behind Low Carb Diets
Weighing-In On Low Carbohydrate Diets
One word that you will hear often when you are researching low carbohydrate diets is confusion. Confusion reigns on the internet with conflicting data that is too often used incorrectly to try and sell a specific diet plan. There are also instances when questionable interpretation is used to either hype or condemn the effectiveness or safety of a low carb diet. Putting confusion aside for a moment there is one fact about low carb diets that is not in dispute. Regardless of the diet plan being used there are over 30 million Americans that are following some version of a low carb diet.
Should Your Diet Plan Cut Out Carbs?
For years medical professionals have said that the abnormally high quantities of carbohydrates in a typical diet have led to an explosion of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other weight related diseases. While some critics of low carb diets claim that the lack of certain foods can cause deficiencies in nutritional health others claim that the overall benefits far outweigh any nutritional defects. Advocates of low carb eating counter this argument by pointing out the easy availability of nutritional supplements.
Most diet plans will help you lose an impressive amount of weight in the early stages. Part of this is due to the enthusiasm that a new dieter often has. They have made the decision to lose weight and they are ready to do whatever it takes. They eat only the recommended foods and, for the first time in years, have started exercising. The problems that arise for most dieters will happen after that initial enthusiasm wears off. This is where you need to be alert and prepared for difficulties. A very good diet plan will have a strategy to help you maintain a healthy diet for a long time, with the results being a significant and healthy loss of weight and an improvement in your overall health.
Low carb diets have been proven to be effective weight loss tools, but there are many types of low carb diets. Here are some tips to help you choose the low carbohydrate diet that is best for you.
There Are Different Low Carb Diets
If you Google the phrase “low carb diets” you will find that over 230 million sites have been found for you. That number is mind boggling and the results are so jumbled that you may not even want to check out more than 3 or 4 sites. To be successful with a low carb diet you will want to find a plan that helps you reduce the amount of both carbohydrates and calories that you consume every day.
Two popular plans that severely restrict the intake of carbs are the Atkins diet plan and the Protein Power diet. Both plans remove carbs from your diet to the point that your body goes into a state called ketosis, a condition where your body can’t find carbs to burn for energy so it burns fat. There are some other plans that are less limiting in the foods that can be eaten, but they also can be less effective in the long run. Other plans will concentrate on removing sugars from your diet.
Studying A Low Carb Diet
While there have been numerous studies to determine that validity of low carb diets, almost all of those studies have focused solely on carbohydrate intake and weight loss. There are wide differences in the participants who were studied and the length of time that they were studied.
The major shortcomings of most of the low carb diet studies have involved the age of the subjects and the length of time that the study covered. There is very little data available regarding the effectiveness of a low carb diet for people over the age of 55 (now the largest segment of the US population) and very few of the tests were carried out for more than ninety days.
Low Carb Diets And Exercise
Exercise needs to be a part of every successful diet but until recently most studies haven’t monitored that amount and quality of exercising while dieting. Some studies don’t even mention it to their subjects and leave the idea of exercise up to the participants. This lack of inclusion can lead to some very misleading results. A subject who exercises vigorously will probably show very different results when compared to a subject that didn’t exercise at all.
Another issue that is often confusing when looking at low card diets is the idea of consuming less calories while on the diet. Some plans, like Atkins and South Beach, don’t focus on calorie intake, their emphasis in on reducing or eliminating carbs. Burning more calories during the day than the amount of calories consumed is a cornerstone of weight loss but is often not addressed with low carb diet plans.
Until recently there has been very little research on the long range effectiveness of low carb diets. This lack of research also applies to the long term health safety of the diet plans. Researchers are just now adjusting their studies to address long term consequences of low carb diets. A long term healthy result is what every dieter is after but the research is very vague on outcomes over 90 days. While there haven’t been unfavorable results from a low carb diet in the areas of cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes issues, the long term effects are still unknown.
There has been a demand for more long term studies of the viability of low carb diet plans. Some health professionals are concerned about the safety of low carb diets if they are followed for long periods of time. Too many of these diets ignore that amount of fat consumed and, while weight loss is achieved, there is no research done on the effects of following these high fat diets for extended periods.
Because most low carb plans will trigger a state called ketosis a dieter must be aware of the physical side effects that can arise. While in ketosis, the body is changing its source of energy from carbs to fat and this process can lead to muscle aches, mild fatigue and occasional irregularity. Many low carb diets need some supplemental assistance to add vitamins and fiber to the diet.
3 Key Low Carb Diet Points
The success rates for most low carbohydrate plans is similar and the results over 60 days are quite consistent, as long as the dieter has followed the plan.
There is a lack of research that examines that long term effectiveness of following a low carb diet.
Very strict low carb diets are difficult to maintain over an extended period of time. Boredom is the number one problem and it is difficult to avoid carbohydrates completely.
Every health professional agrees that a successful diet plan needs to be a lifestyle plan of better eating and exercise. You may reach your weight loss goal quickly but you will need to take steps to help you keep that weight off. Make sure that you have studied closely that kinds of foods that you are allowed on your diet plan. If you can’t see yourself eating those foods for months at a time you may want to look at a different plan.
You are choosing a plan with will be a roadmap for not only weight loss but also for improved health. The benefits of eliminating some foods will overcome that loss of some foods but it is a lifestyle change and it will be challenging. Low carb diets will severely reduce that amount of sugars that you consume, meaning that even a few cookies as a snack will set you back. You also have to realize that you need to adapt new foods such as whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Low Carb Shouldn’t Mean High Fat Only
The Atkins plan has been evolving recently and is now recommending that it’s followers limit their diets to 20% of the calories coming from red meat and dairy products. This is a major change for Atkins and is a recognition of the health issues involved in eating such a high level of calories from saturated fat. It also is a result of competition, many low carb diets have sold themselves as a healthy alternative to Atkins. Too many people perceived Atkins as a license to eat all of the red meat that they wanted to.
Another option that has arisen as a result of low carb eating is a modified low carb plan. The focus of this plan is to eliminate some, but not all, carbs from your diet. This plan allows more fruits, some potatoes and whole grains while eliminating most sugars found in processed foods. The weight loss results are slower but many people find it easier to give up fewer foods all at once.