We all know how important it is to maintain the right weight and BMI (Body Mass Index). However, most of us juggle work and home, finding no time for a healthy diet or exercise. In such circumstances, a low-carb diet can be a helpful weight loss strategy.
What is a Low-Carb Diet?
As the name suggests, a low-carb diet involves limiting the intake of carbohydrates and focuses on incorporating more proteins and fat. In this process, the person restricts the use of starchy vegetables, grains, and sugary fruits.
How does a low carb diet help to reduce weight?
Before understanding how a low-carb diet helps to reduce weight, let us first understand carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are of 4 types:
- Simple Natural Carbohydrates. Found naturally in food, i.e., as lactose in milk and fructose in fruits.
- Simple Refined Carbohydrates. Primarily in the form of table sugar.
- Complex Natural Carbohydrates. Available in whole grains and beans.
- Complex Refined Carbohydrates. Found in white flour.
Our body takes more time to digest complex carbohydrates. During the process, these carbs break into simple sugar, i.e., glucose, which is released into the blood and is called ‘blood glucose.’ It is the insulin that helps glucose to enter the cells and provide energy. The liver and muscles contain the remaining glucose, and the rest is stored as fat.
When one restricts carbohydrates in the diet, the body uses this stored fat for energy, hence resulting in weight loss.
A low-carb diet thus helps with weight maintenance and weight loss. The quantum of weight loss depends on the carbohydrate deficit implemented.
Apart from weight loss, a low-carb diet keeps blood sugar and blood pressure in check. Also, it increases the levels of HDL (high-density lipoproteins), i.e., good cholesterol, and also decreases triglycerides.
What are the Types of a Low-Carb Diet?
There are many variations of the low-carb diet.
- Low-carb Diet
Most people opt for the typical low-carb diet where they focus on reducing the intake of carbohydrates. A person who follows a regular low-carb diet consumes high protein to compensate for the lost calories.
- Low-carb High-fat Diet (LCHF)
This diet focuses on very low carbohydrate intake and taking food with high fat content. So, meat, fish, nuts, vegetables, berries, etc., will form an essential part of your diet.
- Ketogenic Diet
Here too, the person focuses on taking a meagre amount of carbohydrates and increasing the fat levels in the food. The extremely low levels of carbohydrates force the body into ‘ketosis’. In this diet, a large amount of fat is released into the liver where it turns into ketones that become the source of energy.
- Low-carb Paleo Diet
A Paleo diet refers to eating food available in the Paleolithic era. Hence, the diet revolves around food available before the agricultural and industrial revolutions. The key foods include fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. Dairy, legumes, grains, etc., are eliminated in this diet.
- Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet follows a strict food plan that avoids high-carb foods and increases the proteins and fat. The diet plan is in 4 phases, starting with an intake of 20 gms of carbohydrates and eventually adding more once you start reducing weight.
- Eco-Atkins Diet
The eco-Atkins is the vegan version of the Atkins diet. The diet involves plant food intake.
- Zero-carb Diet
As the name suggests, carbohydrates are eliminated . In this diet type, people eat meat, fish, animal fats, etc., to meet calorie requirements.
- Low-carb Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes reducing carbohydrates. It mainly focuses on high-fat food rather than lean meat. So, fatty fish will be included in this diet.
When Should I Opt for a Low-Carb Diet?
A low-carb diet is a recommended process to achieve various health benefits. You can opt for it in the following conditions:
- To Lose Belly Fat
When the body does not receive a requisite amount of carbs, it burns stored fat. The fat is mostly visceral fat from the belly.
- To Maintain Heart Health
High intake of carbs triggers the triglycerides levels. These are the fat molecules that circulate in the bloodstream and may lead to blockage. When the carbohydrate levels decrease, triglycerides also diminish, contributing to heart health.
- To Increase Good Cholesterol
HDL or good cholesterol can increase when you take a low-carb diet.
- To Lower Blood Sugar
A low-carb diet can lower blood sugar and insulin levels. It is beneficial for patients of type 2 diabetes.
- To Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a reason for many ailments. You may control surges with a planned low- carb diet.
When Should I See the Doctor Regarding a Low-Carb Diet?
If you do not suffer from any disease, it is okay to go for a low-carb diet. However, if you take regular medication for ailments like diabetes or high blood pressure, it may be beneficial to first contact your doctor.
If you are thinking to go on a low-carb diet,
Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment
What are the Risk Factors of a Low-carb Diet?
In the initial phases of carbs reduction, you may face a few side effects, such as:
- Hunger pangs
- Muscle cramps
Also, opting for a low-carb diet for a long duration may cause deficits in the vitamins and minerals levels in your body. Hence, it is recommended to pursue a low-carb diet for not more than 6 months if in perfect health. Visit the doctor in case the body shows any abnormal reactions.
Your body may also present with some severe conditions if the low-carb diet is continued for a long time. These include:
- Kidney Problems
A low carb diet means increasing the intake of protein, which can strain the kidneys. It may thus adversely affect your health.
A high protein diet will lead to more calcium accumulation. This may create kidney stones.
- High Cholesterol
Few proteins and dairy products may increase fat levels, and there are chances for a rise in cholesterol levels. This may lead to heart diseases.
A low-carb diet is a way to lose weight. However, it is always a better idea to visit a doctor or nutritionist before going on any diet as they are the expert who can provide you with a proper diet plan.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. How Many Calories Should be Reduced So That I Lose 1 kg of weight?
A1. You can reduce anywhere between 500 to 700 calories to lose 1 kg.
Q2. Is There a Chance That I will Not Lose Weight Even After Opting for a Low-carb Diet?
A2. Taking too many nuts and lots of dairy products, less sleep, etc., may be reasons for your inability to lose weight even with a carb reduction.
Q3. How Important is Exercising While on a Low-carb diet?
A3. Exercising is an integral element of a healthier self. You must opt for moderate exercise during low-carb phases.