If you’ve been searching for the most effective ways to lose weight, you must have come across low-carb diets. As a matter of fact, most health gurus tell you that if you are dead-serious on shedding off those excess pounds, a low-carb diet is the way to go.
But what exactly is a low-carb diet? And can you really lose weight on a low-carb diet? A low-carb diet is basically a diet that restricts or limits carbohydrates such as those found in grains, bread, pasta and sugary foods. Instead, it emphasizes foods that are high in protein, fats and healthy vegetables.
How does a low-carb diet help you lose weight?
Although studies show that a low-carb diet results in weight loss and improve health markers, the principle behind it is almost always easily misinterpreted. It is common knowledge that carbohydrates (simple or complex) which are the main source of fuel for the body are higher in calorie content compared to fats and proteins.
During digestion, complex carbohydrates such as starches are broken down into simple sugars and then absorbed into the bloodstream where they are now known as glucose or blood sugar. Consuming foods that are rich in carbohydrates will cause your body to produce more glucose which in turn triggers the body to release insulin that helps glucose enter your body’s cells.
While some glucose is utilized by the body to fuel all your activities, extra glucose is either stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for future use or converted to fat. The principle behind a low-carb diet for weight loss is that decreasing carbs stabilizes your blood sugar and decreases the level of the fat-storing hormone insulin which causes your body to burn stored fat for energy that ultimately leads to weight loss.
“Low carbohydrate diets can help with weight loss because they stimulate a much lower insulin release.” – Holly Klamer
Starting with the basics
Weight loss is the primary reason people go on a low-carb diet but it can also reduce sugar carvings, according to Cassie Bjork. She said that since carbs turn to sugar in the body eating fewer carbs can actually reduce sugar cravings and helps with weight loss.
However, simply going on a low-carb diet does not guarantee you’ll lose weight. You need to make sure that you’re not taking in excess calories by overdoing it on burgers and cheese because that could ultimately lead to weight gain. You should start on a low-carb diet responsibly, which means not loading up on high protein foods such as cold cuts, steaks and cheese and not thinking carbs as the enemy.
You can start by just changing your snacks. Instead of biscuits, pastries and juice, go for nuts and seeds, or low carb fruits such as berries. Know which foods are high in carbs and then build with your plate with protein, a fruit or non starchy vegetable, a healthy fat and a whole grain. Have half a cup of brown rice rather than a whole cup or a small sweet potato.
One mistake that people on a low-carb diet make is forgetting to add good fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil into their meals. Healthy fats keep you full and will take the place of some of the carbs you used to be eating.
So, can you really lose weight on a low-carb diet?
Absolutely! A low-carb diet aids in weight loss. But it is important you understand that a low-carb diet is not a magic solution as it maybe detrimental to your health if you take its principles to the extremes. While a low-carb diet helps with weight loss, you don’t want to go too low.
Make sure you still consume carbs from healthy sources like vegetables, fruits and whole grains as carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients necessary for a healthy, balanced diet.