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A low-carb diet came as a breath of fresh air after the madness of the low-fat (and high-carb) diets that preceded them. Do you remember the low-fat cookies, the light cakes, and all that stuff where the fat was gone?
With low-carb diets, people could suddenly gorge themselves on bacon and lose weight as long as they agree to eat their burger without its bun and give up sandwiches and spaghetti. They were surprised at how effective these diets were. They were losing weight very quickly, sometimes within a few days. And surprisingly, it always seemed to come with health benefits: lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, triglycerides (a blood fat linked to heart attacks), etc.
The most extreme low-carb diet remained pioneered by Dr Robert Atkins, whose first book, Dr Atkins’ Dietary Revolution, was released in 1972. It promised us fast and lasting weight loss and protection against chronic diseases while allowing us to eat fat-packed steaks and ice cream. Since then, other, less drastic low-carb diets have allowed us to eat smaller amounts of high-carb foods, but continuing to ban most starch-containing grains and vegetables – even fruits were discouraged.
The Disadvantages of the Low-carb Diet
The Atkins diets and other low-carb avatars that followed ultimately turned out to be less effective and less healthy than promised. People often regained their pounds and, at the same time, high cholesterol and hypertension regained the hair of the beast.
And the followers of these diets also told themselves that they did not want to spend their lives without ever eating pasta again. So let’s see what happens if you follow one of these highly low-carb diets.
Low-carb Diet You will feel Wicked
Low-carb diets typically include an “insertion” phase during which almost all carbohydrates remain eliminated. Sometimes you will only consume 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. That’s less than 100 calories – the equivalent of a bun. On a 1200-calorie diet, that’s only 8% of your daily calories. Be aware that, according to experts’ recommendations, carbohydrates should make up 45% to 60% of our daily ratio. These foods are low in calories and tasty!
When our carbohydrate intake falls below 100 grams daily, the body attaches glycogen (stored sugar) from the muscle tissue. Once these glycogen stores remain depleted, the body burns body fat. But this is a very inefficient and complicated way for him to produce blood sugar.
The body only gets there when it has no other choice (when it dies of hunger, for example) and for a perfect reason. Turning fat into sugar has a price: ketone production. It’s a ketone that gives your breath that sour smell when you fast. It can also cause you fatigue, dizziness, headache and nausea. Feeling miserable will eventually cut off your appetite, but there are better ways to achieve this.
Once your body remains drained of all its sugar, you may also experience problems with concentration. The situation estimated that the human brain needs 130 grams of carbohydrates daily to function optimally – and that’s a minimum.
Your Health Could Even Suffer
If you’re overweight or obese and have insulin resistance – especially if you’re prediabetic or diabetic – reducing your carbohydrate intake can immediately benefit your health. Your blood sugar and insulin levels will drop, as will your triglyceride levels and blood pressure, while your HDL levels, the “good” cholesterol, could go up.
But a low-carb diet could also wreak havoc on your body. When your body has to fetch sugar from your lean tissues (muscle) to produce energy, your metabolism slows down because muscle tissue consumes a lot of calories. It probably explains why the lost pounds come back when you have discarded carbohydrates for a while.
Paradoxically, a low-carbohydrate diet could even impair your insulin sensitivity. It is indeed possible that to produce insulin (which helps control blood sugar) and to function well, your pancreas needs a certain amount of sugar. So, beware of signs that show that you are suffering from a glycemic deficiency.
You will Develop Deficiencies due to Low-carb Diet
You’re not going to feel deprived just because you don’t eat bread, fruit, and everything else. However, your body’s determination also remains deprived of foods and nutrients essential to its health. Here are some of them:
Whole grains: protect you from metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Fruits and vegetables: plants prevent heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Most vegetables are very satiating and low in calories, so they can help you reduce your calorie intake without experiencing a deficiency.
In addition, studies show that the more fruits and vegetable people eat, the thinner they are.
Beans: Rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamin B and soluble fibre, beans do not contain saturated fat. They also contain chemical compounds that protect against heart disease and cancer.
Low-fat dairy: You can eat butter and cream while on a low-carbohydrate diet, but you won’t get enough calcium or protein. Low-fat kinds of milk and yoghurts are excellent sources of these nutrients.
Fibre: Eating fibre-rich foods helps reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Beans and many fruits and vegetables are exceptionally high in soluble fibre, which helps lower your blood sugar, feeling hungry, and LDL cholesterol levels.
Vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals: whole grains, for example, are rich in components such as lignans, which would protect against diabetes. And without fruits and vegetables, you’ll have difficulty absorbing enough vitamin C and other good antioxidants to fight the disease.
You’ll Absorb Too Much “Bad” Fat
The original Atkins diet was hugely successful because it allowed people to eat foods that most other diets prohibited – like cheeseburgers without bread, for example. More recent versions of this diet have remained amended to incorporate healthier fats such as fish, olive oil, and other low-carb diets that have also distanced themselves from saturated fats.
However, when you stop eating bread, fruit and beans, it becomes straightforward to compensate by absorbing too much animal fat. And it makes sense: how much food can remain removed from a diet before it is no longer balanced?
The original Atkins diet recommended up to 26% of its calories in the form of saturated fat, while experts suggest not to exceed 10% – they are bad for your health. Saturated fat is suspected to be primarily responsible for raising LDL cholesterol levels.
Let’s add that the latest version of this diet makes a prominent place for lean poultry and seafood, except that most people attracted to this diet are attracted because it allows them to eat bacon and butter.
The Pounds Will Come Back
Two major studies on low-carb diets published in the New England Jouof Medicinrnale followed obese men and women who followed either a low-carb, high-fat diet or a low-fat, high-carb diet to the letter, both of which limited calorie counts.
You will be surprised to learn that keto diet followers never eat these foods.
Take The Good, Leave The Bad
The good news? The success of the low-carbohydrate diet may have nothing to do with carbohydrate restriction. Instead, it is because it makes you eat more protein – and you can add to your diet without drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake. Protein-rich foods can help you control your weight. One possible explanation: the body consumes more calories to assimilate protein than it spends to burn fat and sugars.
The main reason, however, is that protein helps to control hunger better. When people eat protein-rich foods, they feel full longer, and when they go on a diet, they consume fewer calories and lose more weight. So, according to doctors, you need to know about weight loss.
A recent study puts this into perspective. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle put volunteers on a diet where 50 per cent of the calories came from carbohydrates. It’s not a low-carb diet, but not very sweet either. It is a good balance, consistent with what we are proposing.
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