People are busy finding the best ways to keep healthy in modern day. Low carb diet is one of the alternatives for those who want to lose weight and maintain their health. However, before you start, here are some facts you need to know about low-carb diet.
Low-carb diet can be defined as a diet method that limits carbohydrate consumption to 20 percent. Moreover, low carbo meal plan is also described as a diet that limits carbohydrate intake to less than recommended portion, according to Dr. Jennifer Fitzgibbon, New York’s Stony Brook Hospital Cancer Center a registered oncology dietitian.
The trend started in 1972 after cardiologist Robert Atkins published his book “Dr.Atkins’ New Diet Revolution”, as quoted by Mayo Clinic. It was then known as the Atkins’ Diet and became popular throughout the world as an effective way to lose weight. An article published by the British Medical Journal said the book was the best-selling diet book of all time and has been updated and revised many times. While other diet-related books have elaborated this diet more detail as well. After that, we know some latest incarnations of the low-carb diet such as the Zone Diet, Paleo Diet and Eco-Atkins. Those diet plans have similar goals.
Now, let’s talk about the benefits of low carb diet. Here they are:
- Low-carb plan leads to faster weight loss
If you want to lose weight faster, cutting your carb intake is the most effective way to kick out extra pounds from your body. According to a study in 2014 by the National Institutes of Health, , low carb meal plan is more effective than low fat diet. In addition, low carb diet is faster to reduce heart disease than low fat diet, as indicated by 148 adults who followed the plans for more than 12 months.
When we eat sweet food and carbohydrates, our body releases insulin as a reaction to build up blood glucose (sugar). Insulin is also dubbed as “fat-storage hormone” because it tells cells to store available energy as much as possible. Initially, the energy is stored as glycogen from the blood sugar in carbohydrates, as glycogen is our “main” energy.
By cutting carbohydrates from your meal plan and maintaining glycogen stores low or almost empty in our body, insulin will not store fat and be released. Therefore, this diet plan is often the best alternative for people with type 2 diabetes. In a a study, 95.2 percent of people with type 2 diabetes were able to lower or eliminating blood sugar-lowering medication within six months.
- Lower your blood pressure
Hypertension can lead to other disease such as heart failure, strokes, kidney and others. By following this diet plan, you will reduce risks of getting these illnesses. Even cutting your carb is more effective in lowering blood pressure than weight loss supplements or medication, as stated in a study.
- Control Your Appetite and Hunger
When you are on a diet, it is hard to suppress your hunger. You get frustrated as you cannot eat anything you used to eat, and that’s the reason many people fail while on a diet. If you follow a low carb diet plan, you will manage to control your appetite (in a positive way) and you will reduce your craving, an article published in American Family Physician said.
Despite the benefits, low-car diet plan also has its flaws. Here they are:
- You get stressed easily
You might consider it a joke, but according to a study conducted by Australian researchers (and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine), low carb diet followers felt stressed out more easily than carb eaters. The researchers followed 106 dieters for a year. The result was carb-rich eaters are calmer, happier, and can concentrate more easily than low carb dieters. This is because carb boosts stress-relieving chemical in the brain and regulates our mood.
- It is not sustainable
It is harder to stick with low-carb plan than the high-carb one, a study stated. According to a Harvard study, which involved 322 dieters, only 78% of those on carb-deprived program could stick with their plan over the long term (up to two years), while nearly 90% of high-carb diet followers were still consistent over two years.
68 percent of low-carb dieters have problems with constipation, according to a study. Constipation is one of the most common side effects of carb-deprived eating style. Belly bloat is one of the main symptoms of constipation, National Institute of Digestive Diseases explained.
Is Low-carb plan right for you?
The answer depends on your health condition, lifestyle, and your goals. If you have diabetes and you are planning to follow low-carb dietary program, talk to your doctor to make sure whether you need to reduce your medication or not. Be ready for a lifestyle change.
Tips for beginners
There is always a first time for everything. It takes some time for you to get used to a new lifestyle. If you want to reduce your carb intake for the first time, here are some useful tips:
- Keep informed
Before you start, read information on low-carb diet, from books, journals, or reliable online sources. Make sure you know which food you should eat and avoid.
- Start from an easy change
Do not start with a drastic change first. You can start from something easy. For example, if you usually eat white bread for breakfast, turn to plain oatmeal or whole-wheat bread. Then, if you still want to eat white rice for your lunch, that is fine. But reduce the portion. After several times, you may change it with red rice.
- Plan your first week
If you have no idea what to include in your first week, make a plan. There are lots of delicious low-carb recipes you can choose. Include what to eat for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner.