One of the most common ways that adults aim to lose weight is to shift to a low carb diet. While it is a widely debatable topic, reducing the amount of carbs you consume on a regular basis can help you to lose weight, improve health, and to prevent obesity. However, what can a low carb diet offer that other diets cannot? The content ahead details a low carb diet, some of the foods that are considered to be low carb, as well as the health benefits of making this lifestyle change.
What is a Low Carb Diet Plan?
A low carb diet is one in which your carbohydrate intake is reduced. Most commonly, carbs that come from grain sources are generally cut out as a way to improve health, avoid energy crashes, or to lose weight. In the setting of weight loss, a low carb diet may be a good option, so long as carbs are the issue in your current dieting habits. Let’s take a look at some of the most common low carb diet plan options on the market and how they may be able to assist with weight loss.
The Paleo Diet
Widely becoming popular in the fitness industry, the Paleo diet encourages no consumption of grain-based carbs. This means that any food that came as part of the farming industry is typically off limits. Fruits and vegetables are highly encouraged. Generally, the Paleo diet limits the amount of carbs to less than 50 grams per day.
Considered to be one of the founding low carb diets, the Atkins diet consists of four phases that you progress through. Phase one is where you have a sharp avoidance of carbs (usually less than 25 grams per day), followed by two phases that slowly reintroduce it back into your diet plan. Phase four is meant to last the rest of your life, but it still encourages no more than 100 grams of carbs each day.
The keto diet is another low carb diet that aims for nearly zero grams of carbohydrates throughout the day. The keto diet largely focuses on consuming fats, with moderate amounts of protein as well. The keto diet can sometimes reach as low as five grams of carbs during the program so keep this in mind.
Generalized Low Carb Diet
Sometimes, a low carb diet has no name and it simply refers to consuming fewer carbs than what you normally eat or what is recommended. Many adults tend to shift towards this kind of dieting pattern as a way to promote fewer calories consumed with each meal. Consider this option if you desire having fewer restrictions on what you can eat.
Is a Low Carb the Same as a No Carb Diet?
Many adults on weight loss programs often think that eating a low carb diet means no carbs at all. While some diets may encourage as few carbs as possible in each feeding, the truth is they differ quite a bit. Let’s look at some of the differences between a low carb and a no carb diet.
Low Carb Diet
A low carb diet is described exactly as it is above; it is consuming fewer carbs throughout your usual meals. Generally, adults flock to this kind of eating pattern as a way to lose weight, which will be described later on. A low carb diet typically is defined as eating carbohydrates from what is recommended by nutritional authorities. The standard adult looking to maintain body weight should aim for about 200-250 grams of carbohydrates throughout the day, but for some this is too much. A low carb diet may be as low as 25 grams of carbs and as high as 200 grams; it all depends on the low carb diet program you are on.
No Carb Diet
In contrast to a low carb diet, a no carb diet is also exactly as it seems; it is a diet that contains no carbohydrates. Generally speaking, the only purpose for shutting carbs from your life is to lose weight fast. Currently, there is no research to suggest that a no carb diet is safe and it should not be attempted unless directed by a doctor or qualified healthcare provider.
What are the Benefits of a Low Carb Diet?
Now that you have information on what a low carb diet is and the types that are common, consider what this kind of diet can offer you. Listed ahead are some of the most common health benefits of a low carb diet.
Cancer is currently the second leading cause of death in the U.S. and currently there is no cure. While a cure has yet to be found, there are some holistic elements that some adults can utilize to reduce risk. For example, a low carb diet may potentially reduce the size and growth of certain malignant growths, suggesting that a low carb diet may help in cancer therapy. This is encouraging for anyone looking to stack the deck and to lower overall cancer risk.
The leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease. Currently, about 800,000 people (or one in every three deaths) die in the U.S. due to heart disease each year. With that said, finding resources to help prevent heart disease risk is vital to reducing your potential risk burden. Research has found that a low carb diet may help with reducing overall cardiovascular risk. A recent study looked at obesity among various adult participants and found that a low carb diet not only allowed for weight loss, but it helped to reduce overall heart disease risk among these individuals. If you are at risk of heart disease, consider discussing a low carb diet with your doctor to see if it is for you.
Another reason that adults jump on a low carb diet is to reduce fat on the body. Fat is stored as triglycerides in the body and the total amount of triglycerides can be monitored with a blood test. Typically, a low fat diet is recommended to shred fat from your body, but it seems a low carb diet may work just as effectively. A recent study found that low carb diets are similarly effective to low fat diets in weight loss and improving overall metabolic health. This can be encouraging for adults looking to improve health.
The final health benefit listed here is weight loss. It seems that most adults who shift to a weight loss program often go on a low carb diet. The logic of this is if you restrict calories from your daily eating habits, you give yourself better chance to lose weight. Since carbohydrates are often overconsumed, it is only logical to reduce the amount that you eat regularly and thus it should lead to weight loss. This is just one element in a weight loss program, but eating fewer carbs is a major part.
Are Low Carb Diets Effective for Weight Loss?
Before jumping into this topic completely, the answer is yes. However that answer comes with some discussion because low carb diets for the purpose of only weight loss have had mixed results.
When you consider the overall goal of losing weight (let’s say 10 pounds for now), your goal is to reach that in any way possible. Cutting calories from your diet works well for weight loss and usually cutting 500 calories from your daily diet can lead to about one pound of fat loss each week. Do this over the course of 10 weeks and you will reach your goal in theory.
However, what happens once you reach that goal? Many adults tend to shift right back to old eating habits, only to find that a low carb diet caused significant weight loss followed by greater weight gain. This is where many adults find trouble in weight loss and especially in low carb diets.
The idea is that when you go on a low carb diet, you are doing it for the rewards, so making it a lifestyle change is vital. Consider adding some carbs back to your diet once you reach your goal, but do not consume as much as you once used to (if weight loss is your ultimate goal).
Low Carb Foods
Assessing low carb foods is generally pretty simple; foods that contain protein and fat generally have precedent. However, foods generally vary in the quality. Consider the food groups below as a quick guide to get you started on a low carb diet.
If you are going to enjoy a low carb diet, it is important to have good options in vegetables. Generally, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, chard, and mushrooms are all options that you should consider.
If you are on a paleo diet, this is not a section that you will enjoy often or at all. However, low carb diary includes eggs, unsweetened yogurt and milk, cheese, as well as milk varieties that have no sugar added. Be mindful that milk generally has some sugar in it, but the amounts included are considered sufficient for low carb diets.
This is the easiest food group to enjoy when on a low carb diet. Generally speaking, most meat options are allowed. However, you should avoid consuming breaded meat, deep fried and fried meats, and you should aim for grass-fed or lean options.
Nuts and Plant Fats
Another important element in a low carb diet is the nuts group, or plant fats. Many of the fats in these foods contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are very effective for heart health protection. If you are on a weight loss program, you should be aware that over consuming nuts and plant fats can quickly add up your daily calories and moderation is important in this food group. Consider enjoying almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, cashews, and any other seeds available for best results.
Is a Low Carb Diet For you?
Deciding to go on a low carb diet involves some thought and consideration. If you are looking to lose weight and initially hit results then a low carb diet may be right for you. However, many low carb diets tend to cause more weight gain once your usual lifestyle is incorporated so finding a low carb plan that involves this is vital. In addition to weight loss, changing to a low carb diet may be important for reducing other health risks including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Taking these aspects into consideration is important when making any lifestyle change, but especially important when shifting to a low carb diet.