The Right Way to Approach Low-Carb Dieting

The Right Way to Approach Low-Carb DietingYou’ve heard it before. A diet low in carbohydrates is an effective way to shed some unwanted pounds. And for the most part, that is correct. The intake of simple sugars will raise the amount of glucose in your bloodstream and trigger insulin production. The more sugar in the bloodstream, the less your body uses fat reserves for energy. Put another way, the less simple carbs you consume, the easier it is for your body’s fat-burning processes to work. But for health and safety reasons, it’s important to understand how low-carb dieting works.

How Lowering Carbohydrate Intake Burns Fat

A distinction must first be made between fast and slow carbohydrates. For example, fast carbs are simple sugars that are contained in foods like bread, pasta, white sugar, or honey. Slow carbs are contained in foods such as beans, peas, or lentils. So when you hear “low-carb diet”, it is referring to decreased amounts of fast carbs. Slow carbs are not an issue in losing weight because the glucose that they contain is released very slowly into the bloodstream.

Fast carbs cause glucose to be released very quickly, causing the release of insulin by your pancreas. The less sugar in the form of simple carbs you consume, the less glucose circulating in your bloodstream and the less insulin you will produce. When insulin is not present, hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) is produced.

HSL turns on a process in your body that triggers a fat burning mechanism. HSL is responsible for transforming triglycerides or fat molecules into free fatty acids. In simple terms, when the body needs energy and insulin absent, HSL is enabled to break fat molecules apart into usable form. If insulin is present, this process is impeded. You can think of insulin and HSL in terms of a see-saw. When one goes up, the other automatically goes down.

In the modern American diet, most people consume way too many carbohydrates in the form of cereal, baked goods, rice, pasta, corn, or potatoes. These foods have an insulin-spiking affect on your body, making weight loss a struggle, at best, and impossible, at worst.

Low-Carb Does Not Mean High-Protein

Many people mistakenly assume that low-carb diets and high-protein diets are the same thing. They are not. Lowering simple carbs and increasing protein intake can be a very dangerous proposition. If your daily caloric intake consists of more than 50% protein, especially from meat, you should be aware of these health concerns that have been positively linked to very high-protein diets:

• Kidney failure. Protein in excess puts a severe strain on the kidneys, which can lead to renal failure.

• Osteoporosis. Diets high in protein cause people to excrete large amounts of calcium in their urine. Over time, this leads to porous bones.

• Ketosis. Low-carb, high-protein diets are notorious for causing the body to go into ketosis. While ketosis is not detrimental to health in the short term, it can cause problems if prolonged.

Nutrition in a Low-Carb Diet

Instead of focusing on increasing protein as many people do when they embark on a low-carb diet, try putting the emphasis on nutrition instead. Consuming tons of veggies, especially greens, will yield fantastic results. Not only will you lose weight, but your health will not be compromised. In fact, you will probably become healthier.

Another consideration on a low-carb diet is fat. Many people believe that fat is the enemy. It’s not. Studies show that nutrients are more readily absorbed when healthy fat is present. Try to include healthy fat such as olive oil or avocado at every meal.

Contrary to traditional low-carb philosophy, fruits should also be included as part of a low-carb plan. Low-glycemic fruits such as strawberries, grapefruit, or blueberries provide antioxidants and phytonutrients needed for optimal health.

In summary, low-carb diets do work if you work them right. Keep in mind that low-carb does not mean exorbitantly high-protein. The emphasis should be on decreasing simple carbs such as bread, pasta, and rice and increasing nutrient-dense foods such as greens, healthy fats, and certain fruits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “The Right Way to Approach Low-Carb Dieting

  1. Love this article! I am trying to follow this plan every day. I do still have my daily oatmeal in the am which I know is high in carbs but hoping its not as bad as a true fast carb like bread, pasta, etc

  2. Just for the record, low carb done right has always included plenty of low sugar/high fiber fruits and veggies in addition to healthy fats and the amount of protein each individual needs to maintain LBM and support their activity level. What you see and read in the press is NOT low carb but the presses’ misinterpretation of low carb ;o).

  3. There is indeed a lot of misinformation in the media, and amongst government officials as well. For anyone who wants to read the history of the research on this topic area, from the 1800s onward, in a very clear, detailed, and unbiased fashion, read “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. I have read a lot of articles and books on this topic area and have seen nothing better than this. He also has a second book which is a more casual read (half the size), but still thorough. I have no affiliation or reasons to push this; I am a computer science professor at a university.

  4. Great article on low carb dieting. Too many time you see low carbs used as an excuse to change one type of bad diet for another – swapping sugar rich carbs for processed meats.
    Having said that, I have found a low carb diet done properly is the best way drop that unwanted fat.

  5. I have eaten white bread and/or wheat bread just about every day for the last 20 years(mostly white bread) and I am still the same size. What is always left out of the equation is that when you pair a high glycemic food with fat, it changes the total glycemic level of the food and therfore doesn’t effect your insulin levels as quickly as eating white bread (high glycemic carb) by itself! I grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sanwiches on white bread and I was never fat! I have been a physically active person all of my life, placing exercise as a top priority because I have always had a passion for health. Eating a wide variety of healthy foods combined with physical activity is what keeps the figure looking it’s best and the body it’s healthiest.

  6. Tracy you are absolutely correct. Altho I would always advocate using whole grains rather than white refined grains, still that so called “glycemic” effect of carbs doesn’t work when eaten in combination with fat, fiber and protein. Also, never, ever heard of a “slow” carb! Did you mean complex vs simple? And why rule out all grains when whole grains are an essential part of any healthy diet…

  7. Everyone I’ve ever known on a low carb diet has been absolutely obsessed with carbs and they constantly beat themselves up and feel guilty about eating carbs. Not to mention talking about carbs EVERY time they go out to eat. I wouldn’t want to live like that. And I don’t want to hear about it when I’m enjoying a nice dinner out. Life is too short, people!

  8. I’ve lost 40 pounds recently and have done it by counting calories, sticking to about 30% fat (healthy fat if possible) and working out with Cathe’s dvd’s. I went from size 12 to size 2 – 4. I have since gained back about 8 pounds and am again starting my “lose weight” routine. I came across this article and I am going to give it a good try to lose those 8 pounds by cutting back on baked goods, rice, Pasta, corn and potatoes. I’ll see if it really makes a difference.

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