The low-carbohydrate diet was popularized in the 1990s with the introduction of the Atkins diet by Dr. Robert Atkins. This particular plan fell out of favor, however, because its high-protein, high-fat method led to other types of health concerns, even as it reduced body fat. While a completely carb-free diet is extremely difficult to achieve — many healthy foods contain some carbohydrates — low-carb diets that focus on balance and nutrients in addition to reducing carbohydrate-rich foods are gaining in popularity, and for good reason. Many experts agree these new approaches are healthy and effective for those looking to maximize fat loss.
How Does It Work?
Our bodies run on glucose, or as it’s more commonly known: sugar. The body can only store sugar for around 24 hours, at which point it needs to find a different source of energy. This is when we begin to burn fat. Therefore, by reducing our glucose intake, we can help our bodies melt away that excess fat. Carbohydrate-rich foods are high in glucose and give our bodies glucose — often too much — which leads to fat build-up.
Will I Be Hungry?
The constant and frustrating hunger pangs that come with most traditional diets are reduced significantly with a low-carb diet. Diets that focus exclusively on the reduction of calories and control over portions lead to hunger. However, when you begin to consume more proteins and fats — as opposed to simply reducing the overall caloric intake — you may find you’re comfortable eating fewer calories.
First, low-carb diets often work to reduce water and bloating within the first few few weeks. The reduction in insulin production enables the kidneys to get rid of excess sodium, leading to a decrease in water weight. In addition, the reduction of glucose helps the body consume the glucose that resides in the body fat already. Finally, increasing protein often leaves dieters feeling more full.
A Temporary Lifestyle?
Most advocates of the low-carb diet prefer to think of this method more as a lifestyle than a diet. The term ‘diet’ implies a temporary period, a practice abandoned once the goal weight is reached. Authentic low-carb diets work to improve overall nutrition and offer a way to maintain a balanced, healthy eating style. This is also how many people keep weight off permanently.
If your biggest irritant is that excess fat around your waist, low-carb may be for you. Studies consistently show that a low-carb diet is ideal for targeting abdominal fat. A build-up of fat in the midsection is threatening to health because it leads to reduced insulin absorption, which in turn leads to heart disease and diabetes. By targeting your abdominal region, low-carb diets can improve overall health.
Triglycerides are fat molecules which, when elevated in the body, are proven to be major contributing factors in the development of heart disease and stroke. In some low-fat diets, triglycerides actually increase. This is likely due to the fact that carbohydrates are the main engine for increased triglyceride promotion. Therefore, focusing on a low-carb, high-protein diet can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Blood and Sugar
Diabetes is one of the major health concerns in the United States and around the world. Due to the wide availability of processed foods and sugary products, this disease threatens people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Low-carb diets reduce blood sugar levels, preventing the onset of diabetes. They can even work to effectively manage existing diabetes.
When combined with a proper exercise routine, low-carb diets can also lower blood pressure, a central contributing factor in heart attacks and strokes. The diet has been shown to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol and increase beneficial HDL cholesterol.
High-carbohydrate diets can lead to a sugar rollercoaster, combining enormous highs — after consuming carb-heavy meals — with drastic sugar crashes. These effects can be severe enough the body requires sleep to recover, leading to fatigue. By reducing carbohydrates, you will step off the rollercoaster and have a more balanced, energetic day.
Comfortable Eating Out
Unlike many hyper-specific diets, the low-carb diet ensures a smoother transition to a new lifestyle. The balance and ease of the low-carb diet means that eating out need not be a delicate process of choosing the right restaurant that caters to your specific dietary needs. Continuing to enjoy eating out with family and friends can ease the transition into this new lifestyle.