You might have heard the diet called by many names, including ketogenic, LCHF or Atkins, but all of them have one thing in common: They limit carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are found in grains, fruits and …
Low Carb Diet – A Fast Track to Weight Loss
You might have heard the diet called by many names, including ketogenic, LCHF or Atkins, but all of them have one thing in common: They limit carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are found in grains, fruits and starchy vegetables. The body uses this macro nutrient as its first and preferred form of fuel. When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into glucose, or sugar, for immediate energy. Any unused glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver or muscles, and whatever cannot be stored in your muscles and livers is put into long-term storage as fat.
Low carb diets focus on high-fat and high-protein foods while restricting carbohydrate intake. The different versions of the diet allow for different types or amounts of carbohydrates for flexibility and variety so that you can still enjoy your favorite foods while losing weight. Typically, they encourage higher consumption of protein and healthy fats with limited or no grains, legumes, pasta and processed foods. Starchy vegetables may also need to be avoided, but you can usually eat high-fiber veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower. With low-carbohydrate diets, the idea is to provide your body with little or no glucose to store as fat and inducing a special process called ketosis, which is the real key to fast and lasting weight loss.
What is Ketosis?
Ketones are the by-product of the fat-burning process and are used as fuel. Unlike calorie-restricted diets that require people to count and reduce calories to lose weight, carb-restricted diets simply require you to reduce your carb intake until you are in ketosis. Once you become keto-adapted, your body no longer needs to rely on glucose but will instead use your stored fat. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process unlike ketoacidosis, a similar sounding but much different condition signaling uncontrolled diabetes.
With a low carb diet, not only is your body’s fat-burning furnace switched on high, but your satiety signals are also activated. Ketones are believed to help suppress the appetite, so they not only help you power through the excess fat; they can also help you feel fuller longer.
The Benefits of Going Low Carb
Any balanced diet that helps you lose weight can help improve your health. Because many people find carb-restricted diets easier to maintain than calorie-restricted diets that limit how much you can eat, you might find that weight loss is both easier to initiate and maintain. Another benefit of carb-restricted diets is a more balanced blood sugar. Fewer carbs require less insulin. This reduces wild blood sugar swings and the cravings that often accompany hypoglycemia. Less insulin and steadier blood sugars also mean less insulin resistance and a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, lower A1C levels and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Some studies have linked low- and moderate-carb diets with lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, too.
When starting a carb-restricted diet, many people will experience a dramatic shift in weight. This occurs because carbs require water for storage. As bloat and water retention declines, so will weight. Sticking to the diet might help you get control over your sugar cravings and your appetite and shed unwanted pounds.